I recently had the pleasure of seeing Walt Disney Theatrical's newest Broadway show, The Little Mermaid, in previews at New York City's Lunt Fontanne Theatre two times in the last month. I really enjoyed this latest Disney Broadway creation very much, maybe even a little more the second time. I sat within ten rows of the stage the first time and in the rear orchestra the second time. The excellent staging of this production made both close and far away seating a great night at the theatre.
The Little Mermaid is based on Disney's very successful movie of 1989 and is very capably directed by Francesca Zambello, who is known for her fantastic work in theatre and opera. The show will feature many of the songs originally written by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman (Mr. Ashman died in 1981). Ten new songs were added for this show with the help of Glen Slater.
The Little Mermaid is a great story about Ariel, a beautiful young mermaid who falls in love with Prince Eric (a human). Ariel's father is King Triton (played by Norm Lewis) has forbidden Ariel and her "sea pals" to keep going up to the water's surface as he is afraid the humans will cause harm to them. After ignoring her father's warnings, Ariel and her friends, Flounder and Sebastian the crab keep making their trips. Ariel wants more than ever to become human so she can win the heart of Prince Eric. With this in mind, Ariel pays a visit to her wicked Aunt Ursula, the Sea Witch. Ursula agrees to transform Ariel into a human for 3 days with the agreement that Ariel has to get Prince Eric to kiss her by the end of the third day or give her soul to the wicked Ursula forever.
Ariel is played by lead actress Sierra Boggess, a bright, beautiful and energetic young actress who is sure to have a very successful carreer on Broadway. Since part of the arrangement to become human for the 3 days was that she had to give up her voice, I thought she did a phenomenal job on stage with a gorgeous singing voice and ballet like dance movements.
Prince Eric was played by Sean Palmer, playing opposite Ms. Boggess in a very professianal mannner as her hero. Sherie Rene Scott plays Ursula, The Sea Witch and does an outstanding job whenever she's on satge. Her singing voice is one of the finest ever to be heard on Broadway, in fact, I could swear Ms. Scott has a giant fan club of her own each night I saw her. She brings a "fun like" quality to this role that shows she can take her "wicked" character and add just the right amount of comedy to please everyone in the audience.
Sebastian the crab is played by Tituss Burgess, one of the hardest working and most talented actors on Broadway these days. He aims to please as Ariel's closest friend and his "Under The Sea" brings down the house to thunderous applause. Scuttle the seagull is played by Eddie Korbich and Flounder was played by J.J. Singleton both nights I saw the show. They also od an excellent job.
One of the coolest things I noticed was that most of the cast wore "healy's", which are roller skates that are built into their shoes. This clearly gave you the impression that the "sea people" were swimming. All the actors did a great job on the skates, sort of reminds me of the uniqueness of Starlight Express, which played on Broadway many years ago.
I have had the pleasure of seeing all of Disney's shows on Broadway since they came to New York more than 10 years a go. The Little Mermaid is another beautifully orchestrated show which has all the elements of great theatre- an extremely talented cast, great music, a book that is easy to follow, unique costumes, some very good choreography, but most of all...it has heart.
Sometimes people think that they aren't interested in seeing a particular show because they might not like the story line, or the actors or maybe even because they hear it is a show by Disney. Let me tell you now, do yourself a favor and buy some tickets to The Little Mermaid. You very well could see the show that becomes the "hit Broadway show" of the season.
If you need tickets, you can call the friendly people at Applause Theatre Service in New York City at 212-307-7050 or 1-800-451-9930 or go to www.applause-tickets.com/little-mermaid.asp . Just mention my name, maybe they'll give you a discount if you ask.