2024 Season

Becoming Sebastian: Meet Fergie L. Philippe of Disney’s ‘The Little Mermaid’

No matter where actor Fergie L. Philippe goes, when people find out he’s coming to St. Louis, they always ask, “Are you doing The Muny?!”

You first saw Fergie in Jesus Christ Superstar (2017), then in Legally Blonde (2022). Next up for the Miami native who now lives in New York: Disney’s The Little Mermaid.

Fergie L. Philippe as Sebastian in rehearsal for Disney's "The Little Mermaid" in 2024

The son of Haitian immigrants — Mom is a pediatrician; Dad has a Ph.D. and has “accomplished a million different things” — says he’s always known he wanted to be onstage. Here’s more from our conversation with the man who will become King Triton’s hilarious servant Sebastian this summer.

Q • How did you get your start in musical theatre?

A • I came to performing through puppetry. I couldn’t get enough of Jim Henson and all things Sesame Street as a kid. I even turned all my stuffed animals into puppets. Becoming a puppeteer was so specific and seemed impossible, but I always knew at least the performing was something I wanted to do.

I started taking acting classes at 10, went to performing arts high school and on to the musical theatre program at Elon University (in North Carolina). I spent a year and a half on the Hamilton national tour out of college, was in Hamilton on Broadway for three years and have been working ever since.

The Muny’s Production of Legally Blonde
Fergie L. Philippe, here as Emmett with Kyla Stone (left) as Elle in 2022’s Legally Blonde, says he always loves being onstage at The Muny.

Q • It seems only fitting that someone with a passion for puppetry is working on a show directed by John Tartaglia. Is this exciting for you?

A • John has been one of my inspirations for as long as I can remember. Avenue Q was my gateway into musical theatre because of the puppetry and seeing that actors don’t have to be just one thing. Tony-nominated lead actor; executive producer, writer, all things Fraggle Rock; Muny director — he is the perfect example of what being a multihyphenate creative can be.

When I got the call for Little Mermaid — with Johnny — I was speechless. There are truly no words to describe how exciting this is and how honored I am to be a part of this production.

Q • What surprises you about working at The Muny?

A • The Muny audience is here for the story! It’s amazing in a place of this size — with the trap lifts, turntable and 11,000 seats — that we are still able to find nuance in our characters. There were tiny little moments I tried to create as Emmett (in Legally Blonde) that I thought “no one is going to catch that,” but this audience always catches it!

I’m also blown away by the incredible sense of community. So many people have shared so many memories at The Muny. In a space where the scale is so large, you wouldn’t expect how connected you feel to the audience, crew and cast. It’s really magical.

Q • Why do you think supporting the arts is so important?

A • Institutions like The Muny are vital. Artists are as important to the community as doctors, teachers and farmers because they remind us why we are human and what we love about each other. We sometimes take art for granted — especially with how easy it is to consume it right now. But live theatre matters so much more than even the art itself. Live theatre helps us break away from our everyday lives and explore things from a different perspective. It’s a way for us to remember why we are all here in the first place.

Q • Do you have any “only in St. Louis” must-haves when you’re in town?

A • If I don’t get Imo’s, I didn’t go to St. Louis. It’s a staple — and a must — any time I’m in town!

This article originally appeared in the summer 2024 edition of Behind the Booms, a publication for Muny donors.

Categories: 2024 Season, Announcements, Muny News

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