From Under The Sea to up on a stage with pure enjoyment!
– review of the show at the Broward center for Performing Arts (Ft. Lauderdale).
Since it’s film debut in 1989 few movies have become as beloved as The Little Mermaid. Its songs are known and kept as little personal treasures and each character is iconic and cherished. Normally, to repurpose something so indelibly known and animated no less, would be next to impossible, but under the creative genius of David Armstrong and the crew at The 5th Avenue Theatre they did just that. You can still experience this for the next two weeks until March 5th at the Broward Center For Performing Arts.
Opening Night at the Broward Center was packed. Families were everywhere with their little girls dressed as their favorite princess Ariel and some even showcased the frightening Ursula. When the lights dimmed and the curtains dropped you were immediately transported under the water by great fluid lighting visuals rich in blues and greens and illuminated set pieces. Ariel came out swimming as silent anticipation turned into cheers and applause. Ariel, played by Diana Huey dawning the iconic red hair began to sing the original The World Above. Diana stepped into a tough role, but really did it justice with her voice and mannerisms. When she sang the classic Part of Your World and flawlessly hit the sustaining closing note, the audience was in tears.
Disney’s The Little Mermaid was hardly a tearjerker at all, but rather hilarious. First, there was Sebastian, played by the highly talented Melvin Abston. He kept Sebastian’s deep voice and even his memorable lines like, “Teenagers, they think they know everything. You give them an inch and they swim all over you.” His costume along with his crab crawls off the stage were side-splitting.
Next, was the not-so-bright seagull Scuttle (Jamie Torcellini) who flew over the stage and brought the ever popular dinglehopper and a snarfblatt with him. The playful interaction he had with Ariel regarding the unique items was as entertaining as his fellow seagulls performing with him the new song Positoovity. The flying of the seagulls and the swimming of Ariel was almost magical, an absolutely magnificent line work by the crew.
However, while Sebastian and Scuttle were great, Flounder and the sisters in the colorfully vivid song She’s in Love were great too. Yet, Chef Louis stole the cake or the Les Poissons if you will. Brilliantly played by Dane Strokinger, he led one of the best acts in a musical I’ve seen in a while. His use of props, movement and his over exaggerated French ascent were nonstop gold.
As loud as the laughter was from that scene it fell in comparison to the deafening cheers when Ursula took the stage. Ursula, played by Jennifer Allen with her two electric henchmen Flotsam and Jetsam (Brandon Roach and Frederick Hagreen) not only sounded incredible, but their costumes were amazing too. Ursula with her off-purple mile high wig and her huge waving tentacles were mesmerizing as were the eel’s electric outfits. Memorable highlights included Jennifer belting out Poor Unfortunate Souls and Daddy’s Little Angel, which told of the deep sadness within and of course she nailed that classic evil laugh.
The whole cast was great and there was something for everyone. You went from the award-winning hit Under the Sea, which was like an underwater Vegas show filled with swimming showgirls like glamorous lion fish to the subtle Her Voice sang by Matthew Kacergis who played Prince Eric.
Disney’s The Little Mermaid was simply wonderful and you still have two more weeks to see it at the iconic Broward Center for the Performing Arts. By: Ian Charles