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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 9, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 50
Make The Little Mermaid part of your world
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
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Make The Little Mermaid part of your world

by Eric Andrews-Katz - SGN A&E Writer

THE LITTLE MERMAID,
THE MUSICAL
THE 5TH AVENUE THEATRE
Through December 31


Disney's The Little Mermaid is the full-length animated feature that signified the Disney-animation reemergence in 1989. The classic fairy-tale, originally written by Hans Christian Anderson and published in 1837, has been explored in many artistic vehicles. Becoming another staple in Disney's classic vault, the animated musical was made into a Broadway musical in 2007. Now the live-action production is being presented at The 5th Avenue Theatre.

The storyline is close to the movie (with a few adaptations), which is, in turn, based on the original fairy-tale (with notably several more adaptations). Ariel is the youngest of the seven mermaid daughters of King Triton. She possesses a beautiful singing voice and an independent spirit with a rebellious interest in the above human world. Despite warnings from her friends Flounder, Scuttle, and Sebastian, Ariel falls in love with the human prince, Eric. To become 'part of his world,' Ariel trades her voice, and underworld life, for a pair of human legs to live in Eric's kingdom. But there is a catch, she only has three days to make him kiss her, and has no voice to communicate.

The voices in this production are all excellent, and thanks to the new sound system put into the 5th Avenue Theatre, it is a pure pleasure to hear the cast sing. There isn't a single disappointing member of the show, and each character does an excellent job, especially the main side-kicks, Scuttle, Flounder, Sebastian, and Flotsam/Jetsam; they all add their support to the leading players and never try to steal scenes - unless, in Sebastian's case, it is written that way. The dopey seagull Scuttle (Jamie Torcellini) is played like living animation. His character is written for comic relief and Mr. Torcellini delivers, especially in the added song - written for the stage production - 'Positoovity.' Flounder (Connor Russell) plays the fishy best friend in a very cute way with the stage script changing his 'best friend' role to one of romantic interest in Ariel. Sebastian (Melvin Abston) gives a new dimension to the crabby role of the King's advisor and composer. His voice is perfect for the Caribbean crooning of 'Kiss the Girl,' and the audience responds very well to the production number. Flotsam (Brandon Roach) and Jetsam (Frederick Hagreen) both add a wonderful touch as the smarmy assistants to Ursula, the Sea Witch. Their new song, 'Poor Child,' brings the perfect amount of subtle sinister charm needed by a Disney villain to seduce Ariel into visiting Ursula.

The main characters of the show do very good jobs representing their Disney caricatures. Ursula (Jennifer Allen) plays the villainess larger than life, if not going too far with the 'Disney shtick.' Ms. Allen brings all the cunningness of the beloved baddie but tones down the character's menacing presence for the family-friendly production. The death scene is perhaps a little anti-climactic in comparison, changed from the Disney animated feature. Prince Eric (Matthew Kacergis) is the perfect representative of a Disney prince being clean cut, exuberating an optimistic persona, and has a good singing voice. The added songs 'Her Voice' and 'One Step Closer' give good platforms to let Mr. Kacergis' voice shine with a strong presence. There is no doubt as to why Ariel (Diana Huey) is the lead. Her face is expressive, her eyes wide and bright, and she takes full control of the character's songs. Ms. Huey makes the show's anthem 'Part of Your World' her own with her strong vocals, and delivers the crowd-pleasing number with full force.

The show is a definite crowd pleaser and perfect for the 'family-friendly event' of the holiday season. The costumes are all vibrantly colorful and the 'underwater' sets add to the illusion of fantasy. (To further represent the illusion of being in water, ALL 'ocean characters' constantly sway back and forth. Bring a low dose of Dramamine if you are easily motion sick.) There are many characters suspended on harnesses to represent 'swimming' or flying through the air (there are more things flying through the air than a Ridley Scott film) to delight audience members of all ages. The songs definitely do not disappoint (original songs written by composer Alan Menken and lyricist the late Howard Ashman) and the new additional songs (composer Alan Menken and lyricist Glenn Slater) do their job and add to the storyline. The show definitely has a built-in audience as those familiar with the movie broke out in applause at the first chords of any of the recognizable songs.



The Little Mermaid was written by the famed children's author/storyteller Hans Christian Anderson. It has taken many different incarnations with the Disney adaptation in 1989. The Disney film was nominated for several Academy Awards, and won two; Best Score and Best Song 'Kiss The Girl.' ('Under the Sea' was also nominated for Best Song.) The production opened on Broadway in November 2007, eventually receiving two Tony nominations. Disney has announced plans for a live-action film production.

For tickets to The 5th Avenue Theatre's production of Disney's The Little Mermaid, call 206-625-1900 or visit https://www.5thavenue.org/

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