"Little Mermaid" actors beat the heat in Zilker musical

The musical is based “under the sea,” but unfortunately, for the 28 actors putting on the show, the performance is on land -- and in the Texas heat. 

This summer marks the 61st anniversary of the Zilker Summer musical. This year’s show is Disney’s “The Little Mermaid.” 

“You can probably see, I’m dripping as we’re doing this interview.” laughed director Scott Shipman. 

Shipman says much of staying safe comes down to common sense. 

“You’ve gotta replenish your water. You’ve gotta make sure you are resting,” Shipman said. “Use sunscreen because you know, sunburns are gonna exacerbate any of the heat that you’re making. You know being smart about what you’re drinking.”

For actor Katya Welch, things are a bit more intense. She spends the production in a full body suit dressed as a seahorse. Most of the show she spends tap dancing. 
“It’s not too bad actually, I was a little worried when I saw the costume for the first time and I [know Texas has] a reputation, you know, of triple digits.” she remarked. 

Head draper and costume shop manager Virginia Egal says costumes like Welch’s would typically have ice packs built into them -- but this year that didn’t happen. 

“Because the people that are in the hottest costumes right now actually have the opportunity to go backstage and sort of get out of their costumes to cool down,” Egal. 

When Egal says “backstage,” she is referring to the dressing rooms, which are air conditioned. 

“I drink water, anything with electrolytes, staying in our dressing room which is air conditioned.” Welch said. 

Summer scares aside, most of the cast and crew say they’re drawn back to the venue each year. 

“Oh it’s the people! Every night on the hillside, under the sea, like right when the song starts when you hear that opening two notes, everybody just starts applauding,” gushed Megan Hudson who plays Ariels sister “Arista.” 

The show is free. It runs Thursday through Sunday evenings until August 17. It has an 8:15 p.m. start time in Zilker Park, near Barton Springs.