Magic Happens Under the Sea
When Hans Christian Andersen first penned The Little Mermaid in 1837, little did he know that over 150 years later, a huge corporation would turn it into an animated movie. The 1989 film is probably one of Disney’s best creations. It features a strong female lead character and relies on an assortment of inspiration for the musical numbers, from heartwarming ballads to lively calypso. So it should be no surprise, based on this long history, that the same story should evolve into a live stage musical.
This production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid, now on stage at the Dunfield Theatre, Cambridge follows the same plot line as the Disney cartoon. And like the cartoon, it is directed at a young audience. My guess is that anyone in the 5 to 12 age range would enjoy this musical. I sat next to a precocious grade one student, who knew the story and all the characters’ names from the movie. But she was excited to learn that all those characters had “real” names. At intermission, she studied all the cast photos in the program, saying their character’s names, then trying to read their real names. Her delight was contagious, increasing my enjoyment of the show.
Drayton’s favourite leading lady Jayme Armstrong is Ariel, the red-headed mermaid who declares her wish to become human in the heart-felt lament “Part of your World”. Her Prince Eric played by David Cotton sings the beautiful love songs like a perfect Prince Charming.
Kristen Peace is suitably wicked (but not too scary for little children) as Ursula, the sea-witch octopus. Thomas Alderson as Jetsam and Gregory Pember as Flotsam are delightfully nasty as Ursula’s evil minions.
Scuttle the seagull, played by the always-funny Keith Savage, uses every malapropism known to Sheridan’s Mrs. Malaprop and then some. Savage handles the clever script with excellent comedic timing.
Marcus Nance is the strict King Neptune who eventually shows compassion for his youngest daughter, while Mark Cassius as Sebastian the crab nails the calypso songs “Kiss the Girl” and “Under the Sea” perfectly
Nick Settimi is hilarious as the frustrated chef trying to put Sebastian into boiling water, while 14 year old Aidan Tye is charming as Flounder the fish. Victor A. Young is the nervous Grimsby, Prince Eric’s guardian.
A bevy of beauties (What do you call a group of mermaids? School, like fish? Pod, like dolphins?) make up Ariel’s sisters: Anna Hurshman, Rachel Clark, Judy Kovacs, Anwyn Musico, Bethany Kovarick, and Amanda Struthman. Stephen Cota, Ryan Gifford, Dani Jazzar, Chad McFadden, and Nicholas Nesbitt complete the ensemble.
At one point the stage is filled with silly tap dancing seagulls, while at other times, there are various amazing sea creatures. The ensemble brings excitement and action to a new level creating mayhem as chefs try to capture the runaway crab dinner. Local kids have been cast as fish, turtles and other sea critters adding to the colour on stage.
Choreographer Lisa Stevens has great fun with tapping seagulls and undulating fish. Kudos to costume designer Leon Dobkowski for interesting, colourful costumes. And finally, credit goes to Director Anne Hodges for making this production a child’s dream come true. Magic really does happen under the sea – as demonstrated at Dunfield Theatre.
The Little Mermaid continues until December 21 at Dunfield Theatre, Cambridge. Tickets are available by calling the Box Office: 519-621-8000 or Toll Free 1-855-372-9866, or check http://www.draytonentertainment.com/
Photo: 1. Aidan Tye as Flounder, Jayme Armstrong as Ariel and Keith Savage as Scuttle. 2. David Cotton as Prince Eric, Jayme Armstrong as Ariel and Company. 3. Thomas Alderson as Jetsam, Kristen Peace as Ursula and Gregory Pember as Flotsam. Photos by Hilary Gauld-Camilleri, One For The Wall Photography
The Little Mermaid
Based on the Hans Christian Andersen story and the Disney film
Produced by Howard Ashman & John Musker
Written by John Musker and Rom Clements
Directed by Ann Hodges
Choreographed by Lisa Stevens
Musical Direction by Steve Thomas
Performed by Jayme Armstrong, David Cotton, Kristen Peace, Keith Savage, Marcus Nance, Mark Cassius, Thomas Alderson, Gregory Pember, Nick Settimi, Aidan Tye, Victor A. Young, Rachel Clark, Stephen Cota, Ryan Gifford, Anna Hurshman, Dani Jazzar, Judy Kovacs, Bethany Kovarick, Chad McFadden, Anwyn Musico, Nicholas Nesbitt, and Amanda Struthmann.
Produced by Drayton Entertainment
Dunfield Theatre, Cambridge
Nov. 21 to Dec. 21, 2014
Reviewed by Mary Alderson
Disclaimer – the blogger’s son is part of this cast.