"It's exhausting!" says actor Sean Palmer of playing dreamboat PrinceEric in the Broadway adaptation of Disney's The Little Mermaid,which opened last night at the Lunt-Fontanne Theater. "Most people are waitingfor their prince to come along once in a lifetime -- I come along eighttimes a week." It would seem that the broad-shouldered and swarthyPalmer, with his cartoonish (in a good way) good looks, was an obviouschoice to play one of the Disney canon's most beloved princes, butPalmer says it wasn't quite that easy.
Known for his role as Stanford's swoon-worthy underwear modelboyfriend Marcus in seasons four, five and six of Sex and theCity, Palmer moved out to Los Angeles after the show ended to focuson TV and film -- but high-tailed it back to New York and Broadway whenhe realized he didn't want to wait tables anymore. "[In New York] thepossibility of me starring in a Broadway show is always imminent -- itcan happen at any time -- that's how life is here. But in L.A., thereare so many doors to beat down and so many people to shake hands withthat I just thought, I don't want to start over right now. I'm just tootired."
Serendipitously, back in New York, Palmer fell in love with the roleof Prince Eric when he heard the ballad "Her Voice," one of the 11 newsongs written by Alan Menken (the Oscar-winning composer of the animatedversion) for the Broadway show. "It sort of sticks out. I thought it wasgoing to be this cheesy song and it really wasn't," says Palmer. After arollercoaster ride of an audition process, which included being toldseveral times by the producers that they were no longer considering himfor the role, he was offered the part at the "11th hour." Since then, hehas happily donned the pony-tailed wig, tall boots and billowy blousethat is synonymous with the land-dwelling Prince Eric -- a very normalget-up compared the elaborate contraptions worn by hisunder-water-dwelling cast mates, who spend hours before each performanceapplying glittery makeup, squirming into ornate costumes with mechanicalfins and lacing up their Heelys, that give them the impression ofgliding through the ocean. "I've been getting Heely envy lately. It'sjust really beautiful and you sort of want to have the freedom to justglide," Palmer only half-jokes. But after chatting with (and staring at)Palmer and seeing the show, the one to envy is Ariel (Sierra Boggess),who ultimately gets to kiss her dashing prince.