The Little Mermaid The Musical
Kansas City, Missouri
July 23, 2013
Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Any time you’re hoping to replicate the success of a Disney production, you’re going to be automatically met with how well you stack up against the original. Even with a hazy memory of how the story to “The Little Mermaid” went, I still had a fairly good idea what to expect and I’m glad to report that not only does this Broadway-style production stays true to the 1989 classic, it is a delight to watch.
For those readers whose memory may be equally fuzzy, let me catch you up to speed. Ariel (Jessica Grove) is a mermaid and also the youngest daughter of King Triton (Edward Watts). Much to his dismay, she constantly visits the ocean’s surface and dreams of not only walking on the shore but living on dry land with the other humans. It doesn’t help when she rescues and falls in love with a Prince Eric (Nick Adams). Anymore information and I will have ruined the first half for those of you who haven’t seen the 1989 film or read the children’s story by Hans Christian Andersen.
The show gets off to a slow start with a song written for the production, but kicks into gear with the song everyone should know, “Part of Your World”. Grove is definitely talented and easily hits the high notes in the song. In fact everyone in the show is well cast in their roles. Still there are some low moments. The film’s most popular song, “Under the Sea”, doesn’t feel as epic or magical as it should in my opinion. My memory may have been blurry but I distinctly remember that song. I will add, in the show’s defense, that I’m sure it’s hard to create a sea alive with song and dance on stage. You could say it’s a tad villainous, but Ursula (Liz McCartney) almost steals the show. Any time she’s on stage, her presence is definitely felt and McCartney really belts out the lyrics in grand style, especially during the songs “Daddy’s Little Angel” and “Poor Unfortunate Souls”.
Major props to the men and women behind the scenes of this production. To add to the effect that they’re underwater and swimming the cast is literally whisked into the air and across the stage. One man who certainly deserves a lot of credit is John MacInnis, who choreographed the show. One of the best instances of perfectly matched movements is during “Sweet Child” when the eels, Flotsam and Jetsam (Scott Leiendecker and Sean Patrick Doyle), move as one entity. Though “The Little Mermaid” lacks a lot of big dance numbers, one thing that really impressed me was watching the the actors constantly “swimming” in place, even when they don’t speak a single word during the scene. On the negative side, someone should send a note to the sound guy. Often times the music was much louder than the singing and I often saw parents covering their children’s ears because of how loud the volume was. I even found myself wincing at the volume a couple of times.
I haven’t seen the animated film in almost 20 years but I may have to after seeing this show. There may be a few things from the film that the production didn’t do justice, but I can guarantee there are plenty they triumphed on. The cast of “The Little Mermaid” should be proud they did the original justice while creating new memories for children of all ages.
This production runs at Starlight Theater until July 28th. For tickets visit www.kcstarlight.com