BWW Review: THE LITTLE MERMAID at Downtown Cabaret Children's Theatre
On Saturday, February 22, I had the pleasure of seeing the opening performance of THE LITTLE MERMAID at the Downtown Cabaret Children's Theatre, in Bridgeport, CT. This adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen story, made famous to younger generations by the animated Disney movie is written by Phill Hill. Having never personally read the Hans Christian Andersen story, my character name references will be based on the Disney adaptation, which I do believe is likely to be the version most well known. Ricky Altamirano directs, choreographs and stars as Hermit, the crab Disney calls "Sebastian."
The set switches from a shimmering blue curtain background, simulating being under the sea, to what looks like waves going in front, during the scenes that take place partially on land.
This adaptation reminded me of elements from three other Disney movies, including Lion King, Cinderella, and Aladdin. It was like Lion King, in the sense that Myrtle, the character Disney calls "Ursula," is the sister of Marina, a female adaptation of the character Disney calls "King Triton." Marina is the mother of Coral, the character Disney calls "Ariel." The dynamics between Marina, Myrtle, and Coral are similar to those between "Mufasa," "Scar," and "Simba" of Lion King in that the sibling who is not the ruler wants to usurp the sibling who is, and tries to deceive the ruler's naïve child, as part of the plot to overthrow the ruler, unbeknownst to the ruler's child. It was like Cinderella in the sense that midnight was the deadline. It was like Aladdin in the sense that Ricky Altamirano's speaking voice was not an attempt to imitate Samuel E. Wright (who provides Sebastian's voice in the Disney movie), but was instead a spot on vocal impersonation of Gilbert Gottfried, who voiced the parrot in Disney's Aladdin.
An absolute highlight is when Ricky Altamirano begins singing "Can't Help Falling In Love," using his real singing voice, completely juxtaposed with the Gilbert Gottfried speaking voice he had been using in the show.
Kaylin Weller ssssssteals the ssssssshow in her role of Bellow, the sssssslithering valley girl eel, a character that was two characters in the Disney movie, known as "Flotsam" and "Jetsam." She keeps her slither and valley girl voice all throughout her lines, stays in character while not delivering lines, and manages to stay in character vocally, while singing, yet simultaneously showcases her own amazing singing voice. It is clear that she is enjoying her role, and making the most of this character.
THE LITTLE MERMAID is scheduled to continue to run at the Downtown Cabaret Children's Theatre in Bridgeport, CT, through March 29, 2020. For times and tickets, please go to https://dtcab.com/show/little-mermaid/.