By: Mariel G.
Dear Early Nineties, I miss your neon colored
windbreakers, out of place fanny packs, and old school music
stylings by that Philly guy that moved to Bel Air. What a time that
was for the last batch of pre-internet, cell-phone-less,
pre-Pixar-movies children. Back in 1990, one particular munchkin
wanted nothing more than to venture the colorful depths of the
Pacific Ocean, sing 'Part of Your World' out of tune twelve times a
week, and have effortlessly voluminous red hair. Sadly that last
part never became reality, not even in synthetic wig form.
Fast forward to a crisp autumn evening in 2008;
after a small absence, six-year-old Mariel and four-year-old Reuben
made cameos in the mezzanine of the acclaimed Broadway theater,
Lunt-Fontanne. 'The Voyage of the Little Mermaid' musical kicked off
with a gripping, orchestral rendition of 'Fathoms Below,' during
which the illustrious Prince Eric proved for the first time that he
had singing chops. Ariel's angelic voice soon captured the prince
and his crew's attention; and my bro and I were happily lost at sea.
Even though the mermaid and prince went by Sierra Bogess and Sean
Palmer by day, they were the honest to goodness Ariel and Eric by
The show I've been waiting to see all my life!
Ursula (aka the incomparable Sherie Rene Scott) and
her slinky minions, Flotsam and Jetsam, reeled us into their dark,
witty realm with their jazz inspired melody, 'I Want the Good Times
Back.' After the show-stopping number, a thunderous roar of audience
applause lasted so long that Ursula broke the fourth wall, took a
bow, and dictated for a cease and desist on the clapping. It's not
surprising that a similar thunder engulfed the air following her
'Poor Unfortunate Souls' number. The evil sorceress' droll, witty
intelligence and incredible voice are what earned her the title of
my favorite lead character of the show. Plus, with Sherie Rene Scott
in the role, it's difficult to not be amazed.
Flounder, Scuttle, Chef Louis, and Sebastian are the
unsung heroes of the show. Carrying most of the comedic weight, the
quartet elicited laughter as often as Sebastian said the word
teenagers. Scuttle and Chef Louis' solos shocked quite a few in the
audience, seeing as the characters had small bits in the movies.
Many were as taken as I by the young Trevor Braun and his amazing
singing talent, despite his young age. And Titus Burgess brought the
audience to their feet at curtain call for his brilliant rendition
of 'Under the Sea.'
Almost inside and so stoked by the playbill.
Alan Menken's newly penned melodies for the Broadway
show are the crowning glories and push the familiar
mermaid-turned-human story to a new level. From Scuttle to Flounder
to Chef Louis, each of the characters are given new depths through
witty lyrics and musicality that make you want to dance right there
in the theater. Prince Eric shines as more than a prince who saves
the day. Through the moving songs of 'Her Voice,' 'One Step Closer,'
and 'If Only,' the audience is able to view a multitude of layers to
Eric and the journey of Ariel and Eric's romance is even more
endearing. 'One Step Closer' was definitely my favorite of the three
songs, as it shows Eric's compassion for a stranger who cannot talk
and his ability to understand a person through more than just words;
but also through expressions, motions, and dance.
As if the beautiful songs weren't enough, the
costumes, sets, and effects of the show dazzled brightly and
contributed to the realism of Ariel's world 'under the sea' and
Eric's 'human world.' The fish and sea creatures were vivid and
colorful as ever. The members of Prince Eric's kingdom could put
modern royal courts to shame in their exquisite 19th
century gowns and suits. And Ariel's dress was thankfully not as
overly poofy and 1980s-esque as the animated movie. The sweet, baby
pink tea dress gracefully accentuated Ariel's natural innocence and
With Reub and our college buds!
Like many others, I was anxious to see how Disney
would dive us under the sea in a Broadway theater. Strategic
lighting and projections were a given, but would Ariel and Flounder
be swimming via cables or ropes? Questions were answered when
Ariel's sisters introduced themselves and the world of Atlantica on
streamlined roller skates. It sounds like it would look weird, but
skating convincingly gave the actors the graceful speed and movement
they needed for their costumes to mimic underwater movement. And the
costume/tech department did a great job of making the skates sleek
and incorporating them into the overall costume ensemble.
Unfortunately, Ariel's voyage on Broadway lasted for
just a little over a year and is still awaiting a possibility for a
tour. Some attribute it to bad timing because of the economy, others
because of the mixed reviews. I guess some people didn't dig the
skates. But come on, it's The Little Mermaid! Then again, my
inability to understand why Disney ever axed the show may be because
I'm a little partial when it comes to Ariel.
It's a DINGLEHOPPER!
If there's such thing as a ranking of movies based
on pure nostalgia and childhood connection, The Little Mermaid
sits at numero uno for me. There was something about the
rebellious mermaid and her beachy keen sidekicks that got me hooked
(malapropism and pun intended) into the brilliantly vibrant world of
Atlantica. The upbeat reggae number of 'Under the Sea' cemented my
fondness for all things Disney. And my first recollection of my
mother telling me to never talk to strangers was right after Ursula
enticed Ariel to give up her voice to become human. Ok, so I am
a little biased. But, hopefully, one day, more people will have a
chance to get as lost at sea as I did that night.