Monday, July 22, 2013

Review of “Little Mermaid” by a Mermaid Character

Review of “Little Mermaid” by a Mermaid Character

Our first review was from a real, live human, but this review is brought to you by a "real, live Mermaid character."

Getting to see Disney’s “The Little Mermaid “Broadway Show was like seeing the animated film as a child for the first time all over again. Only with this show, there are added songs and scenes that give the audience an even deeper look at the story and sticks even more closely with the original Hans Christian Anderson tale of two star crossed lovers and a ‘fish out of water’. The element of dance as “Ariel’s” way to win “Prince Eric’s” affections is pulled from the original story and used in a song about dance being a way of conversation, when one is without the ability to speak. There were explanations in the play that we missed out on in the movie version, which added back story to these already rich characters we know and love. For example, we find out that “Ursula” the Sea Witch is, in fact, “King Triton’s” older sister, whom he banished.
Christian Probst as Flounder and ensemble in Disney's
 The Little Mermaid, Pittsburgh CLO,  Photo Billy Bustamante
The sets were expertly and seamlessly changed as the audience switches back and forth from the ocean to land. The “Merfolk” ‘swam’ on wires and were in a constant state of undulation to simulate being deep in the sea. They were even able to sing beautifully while swinging above the stage and swaying with the faux currents.  The costumes were sumptuously made of silks and feathers which made them look as though they were swirling in the fathoms below. Black light reactive fabrics were used to give the villains a more sinister appearance.

The entire cast was wonderfully talented but there were two absolute stand outs among them. Liz McCartney who donned an evening gown replete with tentacles was fabulously nasty as “Ursula the Sea Witch”. Ms. McCartney oozed all over the stage and absolutely brings this classic villain to life, her vocals were nearly spot on with the original voice talent. The other stand out was Alan Mingo Jr. in the role of “Sebastian the crab”,  after a rousing rendition of “Under the Sea” I believe the general audience feel was “Sebastian just brought it on home!”.

If you have ever looked out on the Ocean and had thoughts of “Merpeople” or that maybe the sea creatures are doing dance numbers, then this one is a must see for you. Kids of all ages can enjoy the heartwarming message of Love conquers all obstacles.

Dancing Nancy, twirler of things aflame at Self, Donsin' Munkee, Jingle Shaker, Cow Bell player. And Mermaid, complete with tail and a sea shell bikini top here.

Take a Trip Back to Childhood,Fun and Fantasy with “Little Mermaid"

Take a Trip Back to Childhood,Fun and Fantasy with
 “Little Mermaid.”
By Lauren Brutscher

Pittsburghers who attended the premier of Disney’s The Little Mermaid on July 9 got to experience a undersea adventure before the flooding.  This beloved tale of a teenage mermaid courageous enough to dream the impossible has been beautifully adapted to the stage and is a must-see event this summer, for children and adults alike. As it follows the familiar story we all know from the Disney version, many elements from the classic Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale are represented, making it a little darker of a tale than we all remember. 

Jessica Grove as Ariel/Courtesy of CLO 
The story begins with a young mermaid princess, Ariel, who longs for a home in the sun and a prince, Eric, who would rather be a sailor than a king who are so close to each other, yet so far.  Ariel, played by seasoned Broadway starlet Jessica Grové, feels like she just isn’t meant to fit in with her father, King Triton, and her six musical mersisters. She spends her time learning about humans and human things from her two best friends, Flounder the Fish (Christian Probst) and Scuttle the Seagull (Matt Allen), instead of staying below the surface with the rest of the merfolk.  In fact, her obsession with life out of the ocean causes her to miss a celebration, in which she was to honor the memory of her late mother for the whole underwater kingdom with her beautiful voice.  Her desire to live out of the ocean grows even stronger after she does the unthinkable: she saves a human from drowning and falls in love with him! No matter how much Sebastian the Crab (Alan Mingo Jr.) and the other sea creatures try to show her all of the wonderful things under the sea, she is still desperate to be with her prince.

She becomes so desperate that when the electric eel twins Flotsam and Jetsam, played by Scott Leiendecker and Sean Patrick Doyle, offer to take her to the sea witch, Ariel obliges.  When Ariel visits Ursula the sea witch (Liz McCartney), she is given the chance to bargain her soul in exchange for a fully human body for three sunsets.  The catch: Eric has to fall in love with her and prove it with a kiss.  The price: her voice.  Ariel makes the trade and takes the chance!  With her voice locked inside Poseidon’s magic shell, she washes up on shore near Prince Eric’s castle and is treated to a heartwarming pep-talk from her friends about staying positive.  The rest of the story is action-packed, dramatic, romantic and much different from the Disney take on it.  To catch all of those surprises, you’ll just have to see it for yourself!

The music in the show was spectacular, including all the familiar songs from the movie and new musical numbers which showcased the vocal talents of the entire cast.  Grové’s talents were showcased in the nostalgic number “Part of Your World” and in another song called “If Only”. 

Sebastian brought the house down with a visually stunning and all-around impressive rendition of everyone’s favorite Disney party song: “Under the Sea” and Scuttle had the audience laughing with the not so familiar song “Positoovity”, performed with a hilarious, tap-dancing, harmonizing, snazzy-dressed group of gulls!

The music in this production is without a doubt what one would expect from Broadway, and the costumes and the sets are just the same.  They did a really good job of setting the mood for each scene, especially of Ursula in her home during her ballad “Poor Unfortunate Souls”.  Ursula’s giant costume was controlled with the help of Flotsam and Jetsam.  And their costumes lit up in bright green flashes as they zipped around the stage in wheeled shoes.  The use of the stage rigging to elevate actors to simulate swimming or flying added so much to the show, making it an imaginative and unforgettable trip back to childhood.

The Pittsburgh CLO presents Disney’s The Little Mermaid played at the Benedum Center until July 21.  If you would like to revisit childhood for a couple hours, or if you’d like to make a new memory with the next generation, Little Mermaid Is perfect for the whole family.  Don’t miss this opportunity to see this beloved “tail” come to life!

Lauren Brutscher is a Pittsburgh based  Quality Assurance Inspector, graduate of Bidwell Training Center and West Mifflin Area High School.   

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Lady Wildermere’s Fan Review

Lady Wildermere’s Fan
By Oscar Wilde,
Pittsburgh Irish Classical Theater at the Charity Randall Theatre
JoAnn R. Forrester
Empress of Biz, Listen, Learn & Prosper
S. I. Business Associates

The opening night presentation of Lady Windermere’s Fan by Oscar Wilde was a satirical delight.  Alan Stanford adaption of the play, changing the time period from the 1880’s to 1947 was just the right thing to do. It is still a time where the British upper class clings to the Victorian values with all its trappings and hypocrisy and yet the setting is a bridge to 70 years later in the 21st century.

In Lady Windermere’s Fan the “appearance “of things are so important.  Good women, like children, are to be seen, but not heard.  They are to play their part, hostess, mothers, daughters with the main goal of preserving and enhancing the family status…as the “right kind of family”.   Jodi Gage is delightful as Lady Windermere, the trusting, naïve, trusting, non-thinking wife who is dedicated to all the ideals of a proper upper class wife.  In the opening act everything is so perfect, so proper, so refined…you know her life is bound to be disrupted…and of course it is.or we would not have this tongue in cheek romp. 

Lady Windermere husband so aptly played by Leo Marks is rumored to spending a good bit of time and money with a certain woman, a Mrs. Erlynne, wonderfully played by Nike Doukas, a woman with an uncertain reputation.  Through a series of maneuvers Mrs. Erlynne and Lady Windermere meet and the turn of affairs is fascinating to watch.  The woman of questionable reputation and much “charm to men” and the ideal wife form a fascinating relationship where one”saves” the other.  You have to go and see it and immerse yourself in the sly wit and sharp insight of Oscar Wilde as he delves into “mores of high society”.  

A couple of notes on the clothing and scenery…. it is perfect for the period.   In our fashion less sense, too tight, too short, too low or too sloppy dress era it is a treat to see the clothing.  How I wish we could bring back some of the style and class of the dresses.  It is one thing the British upper class still have on us…they do know how to dress elegantly.  The scenery for each set is moved about so perfectly.  The men are dressed in tuxedos and project an elegant air as they move furniture and walls around to set the stage.  It was fun to watch. 

The Pittsburgh Irish Classical Theatre is an exception theater company and well deserving of our support.  Every time I have gone to a play by PICT, I have walked away saying to myself “Wow, what an excellent theatre company.  Go and enjoy Lady Windermere fan and be prepared to laugh and enjoy the insights to the human characters by Mr. Oscar Wilde. 

Roving Pittsburgher Good News Reporter, JoAnn Forrester is the Host of "Empress of Biz, Reinvent in Rugged Times," a business Talkcast syndicated on PPLMag, Pittsburgh's First Internet Radio and TV Network.  You can hear JoAnn and Business friends every Thursday at 9 AM on the TalkShoe network or archived later at:  Jo Ann is also a regular business tip columnist at the Pittsburgh Business Times.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Viagara Falls, A Look at Life From Baby Boomer's Point of View

Viagara Falls

Review by Good News Reporter, JoAnn Forrester 

Viagara Falls IS A HOOT

written by Jackie Nicoll

VIAGARA FALLS is a hoot.  It was was fun to see and had some insightful comments on the life of the patrons of a particular
Delightful to see a play in a small room
coffee shop.  It is billed as a Dramedy and is written by Jackie Nicoll  a vivacious senior adult who has a winning way with the written word. 

While  there are characters of various ages the featured three main characters were over 50 and their various outlook and behavior was definitely of the baby boomer era.   Some of  their actions were funny, others sad and obnoxious.  Getting older does not mean you are getting wiser--just slowly down a bit.

 Viagra Falls was presented by Aurora Productions which is housed
The stars, Jackie Nichols and Paul Laughlin
in DAP Co-Op along with a dance studio and artist studio.

We were delighted by An Art Exhibition in the first floor Gallery and after the show had wine and pizza with the cast and staff.
Featured in the cast are Paul Laughlin, Charlene Dolfi, Gus Melis, Logan McCurdy, Jerry Wienand, Cindy Swanson, Jesse Warnick and Kathi Finch. Amazing to find two attorneys involved in the play, Paul Laughlin as the Professor and the Assistant Director is also an attorney.  Just goes to show you that attorneys do go for the dramatic.

We also got to experience Watercolors by Linda Galatti, Linda
Viagara Falls, the set
watercolor art has always captivated her attention both as an admirer and collector, so it seems completely natural that she gravitated to and loves working as an artist in this medium.

What a great way to experience the theater and art in an up close and personal way and be able to socialize with the actors and crew later.
Reviewers note: In the audience was 82 year young, Saroj Gopal Kulkarni who is finishing her first book, "Saris and Soap Operas."  Great to see two octogenarians, she and Jackie both so involved in the arts.   

Playwright,Jackie Nicoll studied ad Carnegie Tech and performed and or was director for:  The Houston Alley Players, The Pittsburgh  Playhouse, The Odd Chair Playhouse, Civic Light Opera, The Pittsburgh Opera, Stage 62,  Little Lake Theater and South Park Conservatory Theater. Jackie is a member of SAG & Aftra, plus she has been a featured actress in many commercials and movies, one by famed horror Director George Romero with make up specialist Tom Sevini. 

She won " Best Play/ Best Director " for the 2005 New Work, held here in Pittsburgh every year. Viagra Falls is the last play she has written and this was the premier showing of it at her daughter's venue, The DAP Co-Op for Dance, Arts, & Photography, home to Southwest ballet, Slava Modern Bance, & EN Photography.

For future productions you may contact the Founder and Director of the Co-Op, Virginia Nicoll-(412)-403-7357

The D.A.P. Co-Op for Dance, Arts, & Photography

26, East Main St. Carnegie Pa. 15106 (412)-403-7357,

Roving Pittsburgher Good News Reporter, JoAnn Forrester is the Host of "Empress of Biz, Reinvent in Rugged Times," a business Talkcast syndicated on PPLMag, Pittsburgh's First Internet Radio and TV Network.  You can hear JoAnn and Business friends every Thursday at 9 AM on the TalkShoe network or archived later at:  Jo Ann is also a regular business tip columinist at the Pittsburgh Business Times.