3 min read

Oklahoma City University Brother Stars in The Little Mermaid Production

Shackelford pictured second from right. Photo courtesy of Broadway World.

James Shackelford was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri and went on to become a musical theater major at Oklahoma City University.

When he was younger, Shackelford’s was inspired by his mom, who was a semiprofessional performer and helped kick start his interest in the arts. She encouraged him to participate in talent shows from a young age, and he has been performing in school musicals every year since he was in 6th grade.

After falling in love with theater, Shackelford decided to pursue it in college and began to build a career out of it.

Shackelford’s favorite production that he performed in was called “Hair”. The show was based in Sacramento,  and Shackelford fell in love with the setting of the city and felt a personal connection to the show.

“As far as a company coming together and relaying a message to the audience, the show did an amazing job and was just a very moving and and effective piece of theater,” explains Shackelford. “It was very special to a lot of us and we are still very close.”

Now, he is touring with Kansas City’s “The Little Mermaid” and has been doing so for the past four years. He plays a total of five roles including a sailor, a chef, Prince Eric’s understudy, and his favorite, Prince Eric’s double.

In the show, Shackelford actually plays Prince Eric for one of the scenes.  After Prince Eric’s ship crashes, he falls into the ocean and starts to drown. Shackelford is hooked to a harness and ascends across the stage as Eric, while Ariel’s double comes to save him.

When Shackleford is not touring with “The Little Mermaid” production, he spends his time volunteering for a non profit organization called the United Service Organizations that helps aid the military. Shackelford travels around the country, as well as internationally, performing for the military and their families.

Shackelford credits his time as a Lambda Chi at Oklahoma City University with allowing him to learn how to better communicate and teaching him the ability to balance his priorities.

“I met my best friends in Lambda Chi, it really laid a foundation for me and provided me with people who I could go to with questions about work and life,” Shackelford discusses. “I learned how to organize myself and how to balance getting my work done while networking, talking to people and meeting with people. It helped me create a foundation professionally and taught me how to be responsible.”

To fellow brothers who might be interested in pursuing an arts career, Shackelford encourages them and believes the challenges are worth the gratification of success. Although, he warns them that it must be their main focus.

“I would encourage them to continue to pursue it, but at the same time it has to be the only thing you are passionate about; it has to be the one thing that you think about 24/7,” says Shackelford. “So many people ask what my Plan B is, and I would say if you have an answer to that question, do that thing. If you aren’t completely committed to it, there are a ton of people with no Plan B who are waiting to take your spot.

It is completely worth it 100%.”