Navy Pier had a chat with one of our favorite villains, Ursula, from the Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s production of The Little Mermaid. Played by the talented Rebecca Finnegan, this actress is no stranger to the Chicago acting scene. We spoke with her about the musical, her costume, and her eagerness to play the “bad guy.”
Welcome back to the Chicago Shakespeare Theater! You’ve done a few productions there – what’s been your favorite thus far?
Thank you! It’s great to be back. I’ve loved all the shows I’ve done here but I have say that The Little Mermaid is my favorite so far because I get to be Ursula!
You play Ursula in this season’s production of The Little Mermaid – do you enjoy playing a villainous character?
I LOVE playing the bad guy. Ever since I was a kid I would always root for the villain to win. I loved watching Vincent Price movies—He was my favorite.
What about that costume? What’s the makeup/prep time for this role?
This is the most elaborate costume I’ve ever worn…It is amazing!! Everyone wants to know if it’s heavy with all the tentacles but it’s actually very light. They are hollow and made kind of like a slinky which is why they move like they do. I do my own makeup for the show and it takes about an hour and a half. It’s the longest prep for a show I’ve ever had.
This musical is beloved by kids and adults – why do you think all audiences are enraptured with this performance?
I remember sitting in the theater when The Little Mermaid movie came out and watching the opening scene and just being transported and moved and thrilled by it. It took me back to being a child again. It was truly magical. And now kids can come see it in person!!! It’s a beautiful show and a beautiful story.
Do you have a favorite scene or song to perform?
Of course! “Poor Unfortunate Souls”!! I have wanted to play Ursula soooooo badly ever since I saw the movie.
Given that the theater is located on Navy Pier, do you have a favorite place to hang out before or after a show?
I like the Riva Crabhouse for a quieter dinner spot, and Billy Goat Tavern to sit outside and people watch.
What’s your next project after The Little Mermaid wraps up?
I’m going to bring my mom up to visit with me here in Chicago. That’s the most important project of all.
The Little Mermaid has been well received by critics and audiences alike for its entertaining, interactive, and family-oriented performance. You’d be a poor, unfortunate soul to miss it before it leaves the stage on August 16!