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The Little Mermaid

Dive under the sea with Ariel the mermaid in this splashy Disney musical.

Fresh Face: The Little Mermaid Star Sierra Boggess

Age: 25

Currently: Becoming part of Broadway's world in her debut as the title character in Disney's The Little Mermaid.

Hometown: The bubbly Boggess was raised in Denver, where she created the role of Ariel during The Little Mermaid's pre-Broadway run at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. "Who gets to do that?" she says incredulously. "That was the coolest thing, because everyone I knew growing up got to be there—the people who knew you when you were in middle school and wore baggy T-shirts every day and didn't look that great. They keep you in your place!"

Vegas, Baby: The path to Broadway for its newest star was at once bumpy and altogether charmed. "I got my Equity card as soon as I graduated from Millikin University [in Illinois], and I've been lucky—I never had to get a day job," Boggess says. Still, she expected to make her Broadway debut before now. Her first post-college musical, David Zippel's Princesses, failed to make its planned move to the Great White Way after two out-of-town runs. Boggess quickly moved on to the national tour of Les Miserables as the Cosette cover, followed by a gig opening the Las Vegas production of The Phantom of the Opera as Christine, opposite her Princesses co-star Brent Barrett. "It was a little weird, because when Brent was playing the dad in Princesses, I was playing this flat-chested chorus girl; all of a sudden I'm Christine opposite his Phantom," she says with a laugh. "I loved doing Phantom, but living in Vegas is not for me. The only thing there is to do is nightlife, but you can't participate when you're doing shows at 10pm. And I don't gamble,! It's weird to walk from your car and see grown people stumbling around. I wouldn't trade it, but it was bizarre!"

You're Hired! The spunky soprano used her Phantom vacation week to visit New York and was called in on her final day to audition for the role of Ariel. Three months later, Disney invited her back on three days' notice. "My flight [from Las Vegas] was like $700, and I called my agent and said, 'Is it really worth it?' She said, 'Yes. They want this to be the last call.'" Boggess' audition proved intense: "I was in for about five hours, so by the end, I knew I had given everything. I was singing the songs, dancing and reading with a bunch of different Erics. I was even on Heelies [the skate-like shoes that allow actors glide across the stage]. I was like, 'This is it!'" And so it was. "I was at the dentist when I found out," Boggess says with a giggle. "I'm a biiig Barbra Streisand fan, so whenever anything amazing happens, I listen to this song from Yentl called 'This is One of Those Moments.' It's so cheesy, but it's what I do! I listened to it, and I cried. After that, I went to a lot of Bikram Yoga so I could be ready to wear some shells on stage," she says with a laugh.

Hello, Sherie: Winning the starring role in one of the season's biggest musicals was only the first step: "I'll tell you, I felt a lot of pressure and anxiety walking into the first day of rehearsal because it is a Disney show," Boggess admits. "Plus, I'm such a star-struck person, and meeting Sherie [Rene Scott, who plays Ursula] was huge. She got off the elevator, and I was like, 'Ok. Do I introduce myself now or do I wait?' Just freaking out! But I felt at ease right away, because I have all these great people around me."

Under the Sea: It also helps that Boggess immediately felt comfortable in Ariel's, fins. "Even though she's a mermaid and a cartoon, people feel this connection with her," the actress points out. "I just get her. She's independent and very stubborn, and a lot of things that I am. I'm not old, but you go through relationships and get a little bit like, 'Love? Whatever.' But when you're 16 and in love, you think this is it. I love tapping into that again. This story is so beautiful. It's not just about a prince and a princess—it's about being someplace you belong. Ariel represents anybody who feels they've been born in the wrong skin. It has to go that deep, and I'm so lucky to get to play a character like that."

The Girl Who Has Everything: Creating an iconic Disney role on Broadway leaves Boggess almost speechless: "Everything I say about this show can be kind of cliché—Ariel was my favorite Disney princess; it's my favorite Disney movie; these are my favorite songs. It's all really amazing. And it still is surreal for me." A major "oh-my-god" moment for the lovely young star comes during the show's second-act highlight, "Kiss the Girl." Notes Boggess, "I think that song is so beautiful, especially how it's done in our production. I'll be in the boat with my Prince Eric, hearing Tituss [Burgess as Sebastian] singing, and all of a sudden I'm like, 'I cannot believe I am doing this right now!' I mean, I can't even explain it. I had to play Ariel."

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