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‘Spells of the Sea’ promises pirates, monsters — and the smell of the ocean

The world premiere of “Spells of the Sea” is Sunday, February 5 at the Grandel Theatre in Grand Center.
Jennifer A. Lin
Metro Theater Company
“Spells of the Sea” tells the story of a 15-year-old fisherwoman and a grumpy lighthouse keeper who encounter mermaids, monsters and pirates in their quest to find the elixir of life.

In April 2020, Guinevere “Gwenny” Govea wrote a song about an old lighthouse keeper who was realizing his own mortality. “It was very dark; it was about loneliness and loss,” she said.

Metro Theater Company Artistic Director Julia Flood, right, and actor and choreographer Tyler White, left.
Emily Woodbury
Julia Flood is Metro Theater Company's artistic director. Tyler White is a choreographer and cast member of "Spells of the Sea."

It was also about adventure. The lighthouse keeper embarks on a journey to help a 15-year-old fisherwoman find the elixir of life for a loved one. “I just started writing because I couldn't really go anywhere, and this was my escape from all of that.”

One song developed into multiple songs, then a cast of characters, and eventually Govea’s work morphed into a full-blown musical that she produced as a podcast.

This month, her work makes it to the stage through Metro Theatre Company. The world premiere of “Spells of the Sea” is Sunday at the Grandel Theatre in Grand Center.

“Having a world premiere in St. Louis — which is such a great city [with] lots of families and a great appreciation for art — that's been really awesome to experience,” Govea said.

Choreographer and cast member Tyler White plays a mermaid, shopkeeper and monster in “Spells of the Sea.” She said the musical’s message will resonate with audience members of all ages.

“It's about expressing those feelings that we have had bottled up for so long during the pandemic. It's learning how to express those feelings and learning to appreciate the journey of life because everything is not a direct path. Sometimes you gotta take wavy lines [and] diagonals,” she said. “There's a lot of underlying themes that you really have to open your eyes, and open your ears, and open your heart to really understand.”

Julia Flood and Tyler White join St. Louis on the Air

“And open your nose,” Julia Flood, Metro Theater Company’s artistic director, added, referring to the use of olfactory design in the musical.

“Some people might notice it,” Flood said, “but some people might just feel like: ‘Oh, I feel like I'm in the open air. I feel like I'm by the seaside. I feel like there's magic in the room.’”

Related Event
What: Metro Theater Company’s “Spells of the Sea”
When: Feb. 10-March 5
Where: The Grandel Theatre, 3610 Grandel Square, St. Louis, MO 63103

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is produced by Miya Norfleet, Emily Woodbury, Danny Wicentowski, Elaine Cha and Alex Heuer. Avery Rogers is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr. Send questions and comments about this story to talk@stlpr.org

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Emily is the senior producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.