Photo Flash: THE LITTLE MERMAID with a Big Heart at Literally Alive Theatre
In 1837 Hans Christian Anderson wrote his most beloved tale "The Little Mermaid". 180 years later she is still swimming her way into the hearts of young and old. On February 26th, Literally Alive Theatre opened their Off-Broadway musical adaptation of this classic tale with books and lyrics by Brenda Bell and music by Michael Sgouros at the Players Theatre located at 115 MacDougal Street (between Bleeker and West 3rd) in Manhattan. Their adaptation is true to the original story by Hans Christian Andersen, unlike the Disney version, which has a different ending. "We tell the story in its original form" says Artistic Director Brenda Bell, "We believe that the true ending shows children that every wish has a price and that love comes with many sacrifices."
While the production embraces the serious message Andersen intended, it is far from a somber affair. Parents, as well as their young companions, will appreciate the live percussion ensemble that accompanies the show in full view of the audience. "We feel offering children the opportunity to experience the music being played as part of the show will inspire a life-long love for music" commented composer Michael Sgouros, whose 19-year old daughter, Emily, plays in the pit with him (and has been a member of the music ensemble since she was 12). "Literally Alive productions will always feature two things, live percussion music and beautiful dancing" added Ms. Bell. "This is something unique that Michael and I contribute to the shows as a reflection of our own lives". Ms. Bell started as a dancer and Mr. Sgouros is a percussionist. "The Little Mermaid" includes over 16 musical or dance numbers. In addition to a professional principle cast, the show features an exceptional dance ensemble, under the direction of choreographer Bekah Shade. Some underwater scenes incorporate an old vaudeville technique called "Black Art Theatre" which allows creatures to seem to be swimming onstage. Puppet designer Elizabeth Chaney was charged with creating many unusual black light puppets including Sea Slugs and Giant Jellyfish as well as interesting pieces for the shipwreck scene. Artistic Director, Brenda Bell, to a trip to Prague to study the art form for the production.
Everyone enjoys the antics of the outrageous mermaid sisters, Coral - the little mermaid, Shelly and Pearl, (Cierra Ervin, Cassidy Tompkins and Rebecca Pomeranz) a lovable trio featured in numbers like "Deep Sea Blues" and "Longing to See Anything but Sea". Director Kate August embraces the sibling relationship with a perfect mixture of light-hearted teasing and sincere sisterly love.
No telling of "The Little Mermaid" would be complete without the evil Fish-witch; the "Diva of the Deep". In this version, the character is portrayed by Eric Fletcher, who belts out the showstopper "Misunderstood". "Misunderstood" features a Lady Gaga-like number that leaves the audience ready to dance in the aisle. Shino Frances plays the loving and regal Grand Mum - Queen Marina. Parents will easily identify with the trials she endures while raising his six mermaid princesses. She tries to offer valuable advice in "Pearls of Wisdom" and reflects on the laughter and tears of parenthood in "Loving and Letting Go".
Prior to each performance, families' may participate in an arts workshop. Here the audience discovers how different art forms bring literature to life. They learn some of the movement and music from the show and create a sea creature that glows in the dark. Coupled with the show, this two-hour experience adds up to an afternoon treasure for the entire family.
"The Little Mermaid" runs through April 23rd on Saturdays (3p) and Sundays (11a), with special holiday matinee on April 13th. There will be two Saturday evening performances (no workshop but a talkback after) at 7p on April 1 and 8. The pre-show workshop begins one hour prior to each performance at the Players Theatre located at 115 MacDougal Street. Tickets are $32 -$52. For more information visit: www.literallyalive.com.
Black Light Magic used in Sgouros & Bells musical - The Little Mermaid Photo by Teri Brennan
The Mermaid Sisters: Cassidy Tompkins, Rebecca Pomeranz and Cierra Ervin are Longing to see anything but sea in Sgouros & Bell''s The Little Mermaid Photo by Teri Brennan
Prince (Richard Lisenby) and Princess (Lindsay Ortmeyer) realize their Destiny Photo by Teri Brennan
The FishWitch (Eric Fletcher) Is not so wicked - she is just Misunderstood Photo by Teri Brennan
Coral, the Little Mermaid (Cierra Ervin) Saves the Prince in Sgouros & Bell''s The Little Mermaid Photo by Teri Brennan
The Prince (Richard Lisenby) celebrates his 18th birthday. Photo by Teri Brennan
Gaze at the splendor of the Mermaids Ball in Sgouros & Bell''s The Little Mermaid Photo by Teri Brennan
Coral, The Little Mermaid (Cierra Ervin) will sing to her prince in silence Photo by Teri Brennan
Queen Marina, the Queen Mum (Shino Frances) has pearls of wisdom for her little mermaid princesses Photo by Teri Brennan
Coral, The Little Mermaid (Cierra Ervin) dances a dagger dance for the Prince and Princess on their wedding night. Photo by Teri Brennan