Alison Woods is a natural redhead. On stage, she’s been blonde and brunette, but next week she’ll play a famous redhead, Ariel from “The Little Mermaid,” when the Disney musical comes to Bass Concert Hall Sept. 29 through Oct. 4.
When she was 5, she fell in love with the movie. “She made redheads cool,” Woods says. “I loved everything about it … that she stood up for herself and what she believed in. It’s got a great message. It’s one of those classics that’s so perfectly done.”
Woods began taking dance when she was 2 and later did choir, but musical theater and voice lessons came later.
She’s been in productions of “The First Wives Club,” “The Sound of Music,” and “42nd Street.” She was also used as an animation reference for Rapunzel in “Tangled.”
“The Little Mermaid” has fulfilled another dream come true: to fly on stage like Wendy in “Peter Pan.” Woods and “The Little Mermaid” cast swim in the ocean by flying above the stage.
“The first time they took me up, it did feel a little higher than you think you’re going to go,” she says. “But it’s pure fun for me.”
The flying has gotten easier as has working around her tail. Instead of it being a tail that goes straight down, the tail is actually a large skirt that is attached to her fingers. When she’s not flying, she’s moving on the stage floor as if she’s swimming. It can be a tripping hazard.
“All of us fell in rehearsal at some point,” she says.
One of the highlights of the play is, of course, when she changes from mermaid to human before our eyes.
“It’s really magical,” she says. “it happens right in the air. It’s one second and I have legs. .. It’s really pretty amazing.”
Like many in the audience, Woods was the kid who knew all the songs from the movie. All those songs are in the musical, but additional songs round out the show. There’s more about the father-daughter relationship between Ariel and King Triton, and there’s more about the prejudice between humans and mer-people. It makes the experience more relatable to the parents in the audience, she says.
For the kids, while Woods can’t actually see them, she says she can feel their energy. “They are laughing and they are talking to us,” she says. “That’s the best part. They are in the story with us.” She’s been told they are standing on their chairs and pretending to swim. “It’s really special to be part of something that brings such happiness to kids and parents. It’s very joyful, very alive and magical. It’s Disney.”
Woods knows she’s very lucky to be doing this show. She has to pinch herself to make sure it’s real.
“Anyone who knows me knows this is the ultimate role and experience,” she says. “It’s quite literally a dream come true.”
“The Little Mermaid”
When: 8 p.m. Sept. 29-Oct. 3, 2 p.m. Oct. 3, and 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Oct. 4.
Where: Bass Concert Hall, 2350 Robert Dedman Drive.
Tickets: Starting at $35-$115