Erik plays prince in The Little Mermaid

Erik plays prince in The Little Mermaid
DIRECTLINE By Boy Abunda (The Philippine Star) Updated May 27, 2011

Erik Santos has never had it so easy yet so hard at the same time.

Picked by director Bobby Garcia himself, to play Prince Eric in Atlantis Productions’ staging of Broadway Musical Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Erik didn’t have to undergo auditions. He was virtually assured of the role two years ago when Bobby, whom Eric has worked with in past concerts, gave the singer a CD containing songs from the project that spawned the well-loved tunes Part Of Your World, Kiss The Girl and the Academy Award-winning song, Under The Sea.

“Direk Bobby told me, ‘Listen to this because you’ll be doing this role one day,’” Erik recalled. “And it wasn’t as if he was asking me if I wanted to do it — he was telling me that I was his one and only choice.”

At the time, Erik didn’t have acting experience so although he wanted to do it, he had his reservations. Listening to the songs from The Little Mermaid, he also realized that these require a different vocal attack from the one he is used to.

“Syempre, pop singer tayo at sa pop, kahit saan mo hugutin ang boses mo, pwede. But these songs, they require a different placement and register. I’d have to take voice lessons,” he said.

More, he has to take speech lessons. According to Erik, songs from musicals put a premium on diction and enunciation and his very slight lisp (“a little issue with my L’s and R’s”) just won’t do.

“Theater is about perfection that’s why actors who have done theater, say that everything else that follows comes easy. I want to do this right not only because it’s my first time to venture into theater, but because this project is big.”

That’s no exaggeration. Disney’s The Little Mermaid, the animation movie, has grossed over $200M worldwide, making it one of the most popular films of all time. Based on the fairytale written by Hans Christian Andersen about the mermaid Ariel who gets her wish to live on land and ends up falling for Prince Eric, it spun off to a Broadway musical in 2007 that features songs not heard on the movie.

Two of these are Her Voice and One Step Closer, both of which Erik will sing in the Philippine staging of the musical. The first, Erik even plans to record a pop version of, for inclusion in his upcoming album.

“Inaaral ko na ang mga kanta this early and I already know many of these by heart. Ang gaganda kasi ng mga songs so there’s no effort on my part to learn them,” he said.

Even Bobby and Chari Arespacochaga, directors of The Little Mermaid, have been preparing for the production for some time now. The two were in Hawaii last year to take an Asian puppetry workshop which they will use for many of the sea creatures.

By the way, Eric doesn’t have an understudy so people will get to watch and hear only one Prince Eric/Erik when The Little Mermaid runs from Nov. 18 to Dec. 11 at the Meralco Theater.

And guess who’ll play Ariel? Rachelle Ann Go!

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