Performer David Light is a busy man.
“I’m playing a crappie fish, which is an unfortunate name, and I’ve taken a lot of ribbing; an eel; and — oh yes, a man as well,” Light says of his roles in The Little Mermaid, Ross Petty’s annual holiday production. “It was difficult in rehearsal, but now with the video-wall backdrop and all the underwater animation, it’s easier to embody animals swimming.”
Light is an accomplished dancer — he’s a true triple-threat: he was a finalist in CBC’s reality-TV competition Triple Sensation — and is comfortable with the routines. The chorus girls had a tougher time. Of course, they are on roller skates while trying to simulate effortless underwater undulations. “They’re looking very graceful now,” Light says diplomatically. “No bad falls for a few days now.”
Petty pilfers the score for his yearly pantomime from whatever songs are riding the charts; so is The Little Mermaid a Katy or a Gaga? “She’s more of a Kelly Clarkson,” Light says with a laugh. “Every song she sings is from a wholesome — except for Christina Aguilera — pop star. Actually, there isn’t a Lady Gaga number. I was shocked.” Light’s favourite bit is “The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?),” but he refuses to elaborate beyond saying, “It’s spectacular.”
The startling news is that Petty, always the villain, is “playing a man this year,” Light says. “A Canadian male sea monster.” Is tradition being broken because of Canadian content rules? Replacing the iconic Ursula with Ogopogo may disappoint and intrigue in equal measure, but Petty still plans to garner as many “boos” as possible. And Dan Chameroy will collect his share of laughs while picking up the genderbending anti-glamour slack with his outrageous alter ego, Dame Plumbum Von Botox. Light and his fellow fish will provide lots of eye-candy; no Speedos or strategically placed seaweed, alas, but he promises “skin-tight unitards, and the male lead takes his shirt off.”