Darling It’s Better Under The Sea
Ariel’s back and this time she’s flying (and swimming) higher than ever before. Disney has brought back to life their musical stage adaptation of the classic animated film The Little Mermaid giving the musical a second chance after its Broadway debut which did nothing for audiences besides sink. However, this time around, Disney has set higher sails and the horizon looks clear. Paper Mill Playhouse’s production of The Little Mermaid is a fun, charismatic production of an animated classic overflowing with talent.
The Little Mermaid is a musical that features music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater. The book is penned by Doug Wright. This rendition of The Little Mermaid has also received some touch ups from the original libretto. Directed by Glenn Casale, this production of Little Mermaid brings to the surface a new Ariel many of us have never seen before. The show also features choreography by John MacInnis.
Disney’s The Little Mermaid comes to life at New Jersey’s Paper Mill Playhouse less than 5 years after its Broadway only a few miles away. On Broadway, The Little Mermaid proved to be mostly a spectacle with high technical requirements across the board that ended up clouding up the water so much, we lost the story we came to hear. This time around, Disney has not only cleaned up the water but reworked aspects of The Little Mermaid leaving audiences wanting to be part of this world. The production’s beauty comes from just how simple and elegant the show is presented. Visually stunning technical elements and talent overflow into the Paper Mill theatre filling the space with what seems to be true Disney magic.
Jessica Grové stars as Ariel in the production and soars above (literally) with a splendid performance. Grove is small but brings larger than life vocals to the stage and scores spot on with her acting. Grove deserves applause for never looking back when strapped into her flying harness above the stage which happens multiple times throughout this production. Her confidence only makes her character seem stronger throughout the production. Her rendition of “Part of your World”, sung entirely while in the flying harness and moving about the stage, brought a tear to my eye. It is a beautiful rendition of one of Disney’s best known song titles.
Nick Adams who stars as the Prince manages to shine despite the fact that his character doesn’t have too much stage time. Adams beams as the Prince winning over the ladies of the audience easily and Ariel as well. His voice is beautiful and his rendition of “Her Voice” is something you’d like playing on repeat daily on your iPod. He is absolutely charming in every aspect that a Prince should be.
Liz McCartney commands the stage starring as Ursula with her two evil side kicks Flotsam and Jetsam played by Scott Leiendecker and Sean Patrick Doyle. McCartney controls the building with her stage presence as Ursula and brings to life a much better rendition of this evil villain opposed to the first time Disney tried this. Leiendecker and Doyle help bring her to life while shinning themselves ((literally) in fantastic costumes.
The show also features many notable performances in many of the supporting roles such as Edward Watts who stars as King Triton proving almighty and powerful. Another fantastic feature is Ron Wisniski as Grimsby who is hilarious throughout. However the most notable supporting character hands down goes to Alan Mingo Jr. who stars as Sebastian. He is outrageous throughout the production helping carrying along the story but just proving as so much fun the entire time as well. He vocals are incredible and he puts his own spin on “Under The Sea” which you can’t but help tap your feet too. Also, he’s vocals to “Kiss the Girl” are impressive and help drastically change the mood of the show as it’s focus does as well. He is never too much but always just spot on.
What scores most about the Paper Mill production of Little Mermaid is its technical elements. The show is visually stunning with Disney noticeably cutting down on the technical elements that overflowed in Disney’s Broadway mounting of the production. The scenic design by Kenneth Foy features simple elements allowing for transitions to be quick and fluid. Projections appear occasionally but are never too much. Charlie Morrison provides a spot on lighting design but doesn’t spoil us with anything too special. Amy Clark and Mark Koss coordinate and design costumes for this production which are scaled back from the Broadway design and simple. They are more for the actors and audience then they are for the “wow” factor. The show is by no means dominated by heelies but skating objects do appear occasionally and aid in the storytelling of this production.
While Disney proudly launched Newsies, one of its current Broadway hits, at Paper Mill last season, I am not quite sure what lies on the horizon for this version of The Little Mermaid. Disney’s Aladdin is next to fly on to the Broadway stage and a revival of Mermaid would be foolish so soon after it’s debut. However, I can say this rendition of The Little Mermaid will be a bright edition to the Disney Theatrical family now that this water is clearer. Don’t be afraid to go Under the Sea and make your way to Disney’s The Little Mermaid at Paper Mill Playhouse! As previously mentioned, the production is the last of the current Paper Mill season and will play the venue through June 30th, 2013.For more information, check out Paper Mill Playhouse’s Official Website. Be sure to check Luner on Theatre on Facebook and Follow Us on Twitter as well! We are constantly updating these pages with information! And of course, check out the rest of Luner on Theatre for all your theatre news you don’t only need but want to know!