Monday, July 22, 2013

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.   

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