Theatre Review: ‘Disney’s The Little Mermaid’ at Lockport Palace Theatre

The cast of “Disney’s The Little Mermaid” at Lockport Palace Theatre.

Full disclosure: I’m not a big fan of Broadway’s current trend of movie-to-musical conversion. “Legally Blonde,” ”Shrek,” “Mean Girls,” “Groundhog’s Day,” “School of Rock,” “Newsies,” the list goes on. I prefer original stories, and am usually not thrilled to sit through a musical that originated as a movie I’ve seen a thousand times.  For that reason, I’d be lying if I said that I was over-the-moon excited to go see “The Little Mermaid” at Lockport’s Palace Theatre last night. But boy was I misguided; I can’t recall a time that I’ve had more fun at the theatre.

. . .exciting, engaging, and a fun night at the theatre for the whole family.

I pray to Poseidon that your childhood wasn’t so sheltered that you need a plot synopsis of “The Little Mermaid,” but just in case you were raised under a rock (or a reef): Set under and above the high seas, this classic Disney adventure tells the story of Ariel (Emily Prucha), King Triton (Kyle Beiter)’s youngest daughter, and her wish to become human. After falling in love with the handsome Prince Eric (Ricky Needham) in the world above, Ariel bargains with the evil sea witch Ursula (Taylor Clarson) to trade her tail for legs. But the bargain is not what it seems, and Ariel needs the help of her friends Flounder the fish (Rheanna Gallego), Scuttle the seagull (Robby Syruws), and Sebastian the crab (Jake Hayes) to restore order under the sea.

What a talented cast! Jake Hayes and Robby Syruws were completely hysterical, and perfect for the roles of Sebastian and Scuttle. Taylor Clarson’s Ursula was terrifying and her laugh gave me goosebumps; if you’re familiar with the character, you know that’s intentional. Emily Prucha’s acting, dancing, and beautiful voice soared during “Part of Your World” and other big vocal numbers.  Most particularly, this production’s ensemble singers and dancers wither superbly good, especially during “Les Poissons” and “Kiss the Girl.”

Director Christopher Parada and Choreographer Dyan Mulvey were quite creative in finding fun ways to depict fish, crabs, and birds on stage via human actors. Particularly clever was their choice to have Ariel, Sebastian, and many of the other actors wear shoes with wheels attached so they could gracefully “swim” on stage.  

Without a doubt, the strongest and most stunning component of this rendition of “The Little Mermaid” was the production design. Of all the community theatre productions that I’ve seen (and I’ve seen many), I’m hard-pressed to think of one that had more impressive costumes, lighting, special effects, and set design. I quite literally felt my jaw drop during “Under the Sea”, the show’s flagship musical number that featured multi-colored lights, bubble machines, and cast members entering the audience dressed as illuminated jellyfish.

This production wasn’t without its imperfections, albeit small ones. The ending felt a bit rushed, particularly the moment when it’s revealed that Ursula was actually responsible for the death of Ariel’s mother (up until this point in the show, Ariel thought her mother was killed by humans). Though it’s not a critical plot point, it was easily missed if you weren’t familiar with the show; in general the dialogue sometimes felt a bit rushed. There were also several instances throughout the show when the orchestra—though they sounded great—fully drowned out what was happening on stage. That all being said, these are small nitpicks that shouldn’t keep you from going to see this otherwise fantastic production.

Curtain Up’s production of “The Little Mermaid” at the Lockport Palace Theatre is exciting, engaging, and a fun night at the theatre for the whole family.

Running time: 2 hours 30 minutes with one 15 minute intermission.

“Disney’s The Little Mermaid” runs until March 18, 2018 and is presented at Lockport’s Palace Theatre. For more information, click here.

Theatre Review: ‘Disney’s The Little Mermaid’ at Shea’s Buffalo Theatre

The national touring company of “Disney’s The Little Mermaid.”

I was never a big fan of ‘The Little Mermaid’ growing up. It wasn’t because it was a bad movie, but by the time that I was old enough to watch it, it had already been around for five or six years. In my house “The Lion King” and “101 Dalmatians” reigned supreme. Those films were watched religiously and if you were like me, once you found a movie you liked, it was really hard to accept a new movie into your life. This is serious business after all. The movie you choose to like the most is a decision that will affect your entire life! Okay, perhaps that is a little extreme, but “The Little Mermaid” is a film that I have only seen once or twice. I am happy to say, that as a stage adaptation, the Pittsburgh CLO and Kansas City Starlight’s Production of this Disney classic is cute, and most importantly, entertaining.

Whether you are three, or one-hundred and three, this staging is fun for everyone.

“The Little Mermaid” tells the tale of Ariel (Diana Huey), the youngest mermaid in her family, who longs to explore the world above the sea, but while under the watchful eye of her father, King Triton (Steve Blanchard), is sheltered into staying in the kingdom. After disobeying her father (because if she didn’t, we’d have no story at all) she spots the man of her dreams, Prince Eric (Eric Kunze) who Ariel saves when he is thrown overboard of his ship. After coming to, Prince Eric falls for the girl with the pretty voice who saved him. Unfortunately, with Ariel being a Mermaid and Prince Eric being a human, King Triton won’t have it. In order to follow her dreams, Ariel makes a shady deal with her Aunt Ursula (Jennifer Allen), the banished sea octopus of the deep, to meet the man of her dreams. However, when things go south, Ariel has to decide what is most important to her, her family, or the love of her life.

Pittsburgh CLO and Kansas City Starlight’s production of this beloved Disney classic is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face. Whether you are three, or one-hundred and three, this staging is fun for everyone. Leading the show as Ariel is the very talented Diana Huey who possesses a voice like a Disney princess and does a marvelous job in this role. Huey defies everything I understand about singing, while being flown across the stage on a wire and supporting her vocal performance. She brings the innocence to the stage that is needed to successfully tell Ariel’s story and she does not disappoint.

Jennifer Allen is deliciously evil as Ursula. In true Disney fashion, the villain in the piece typically is awarded the goofiest story arc, and this is no different. Allen is funny, obnoxious, and over the top, yet is probably my favorite character in the show. She gets the laughs, hams it up on stage, and successfully portrays a Disney villain. She steals the show whenever she enters the stage.

Eric Kunze as Prince Eric is a nice choice. Kunze plays the role by placing a great deal of heart into it, without being a caricature of a prince, you could actually see Kunze being a prince in real life. He compliments Huey’s Ariel very well, and makes us believe that this budding romance between the two is happening.

Melvin Abston is hilarious as Sebastian, the crab and right hand man to King Triton. Abston has wonderful comedic timing and is instantly an audience favorite.

Amy Clark and Mark Koss’ costumes are spectacular. The creativity that is used to create these underwater sea creatures is wonderful. You will be in awe when you see what they have created for this production.

Kenneth Foy’s scenery design is beautiful and assists in creating an atmosphere for this wonderful production. Employing the use of the audience’s imagination is no easy feat, and Foy is able to give us just enough stimulation to allow us to fill in the rest ourselves.

Overall, this is a fantastic production. I loved every minute of it. Do yourself a favor, go see this show!

Running Time: 2 Hours and 30 Minutes with one 15 minute intermission.

“Disney’s The Little Mermaid” runs until August 20, 2017 and is presented at Shea’s Buffalo Theatre in Buffalo. For more information, click here.