BWW Review: Taking a Delightful Dive into THE LITTLE MERMAID at Beef & Boards
Whether you prefer surf or turf, THE LITTLE MERMAID has got it all and then some. Beef & Boards is bringing the magic again with this tale told under the sea, and (as usual) it was full of fanciful fun.
My initial concern was, "Can this possibly be as good as the animated film?" The resounding answer is YES, if not even better. There are some additional songs and backstory that really helped fill out this already classic plot.
One such addition was a very heartfelt ballad quartet called "If Only." I greatly enjoyed this particular song because it helps the audience gain insights into the inner turmoil of four characters at once (Ariel, Prince Eric, Sebastian, and King Triton), but it was the addition of King Triton, played by Peter Scharbrough, that really caught my attention. The film does not let you see into King Triton's motivations as much as the musical, and Scharbrough brought a profound tenderness to the role that highlighted the father-daughter relationship in the story.
A story can always benefit from some comedy, and one of my favorite sources was the unparalleled Scuttle (Chris Trombetta). His ridiculous pronunciation and identification of common words and objects in the human world never failed to bring a smile. It was also a pleasant surprise to have him featured as a vocalist in his endearing song "Positoovity," complete with tap-dancing gull sidekicks.
You may already know of the mermaid Ariel in the show, but I doubt you were aware that Beef & Boards added aerial dancing. It was a wonderful meeting of color, sound, and sights that was only amplified by the graceful ascension of Kristen Noonan, who also plays Aquata. Overall, the effects were great fun and made the musical even more vibrant and engaging.
Finally, it's not very often that you get to enjoy a musical in such a family-friendly setting. The staff at Beef & Boards has always been exceptional, but they truly go above and beyond. I even witnessed one of the wait staff rush forward to help an elderly man with a cane who was struggling to get his plates back to his seat. It was completely unprompted and a joy to witness. Family-friendly is more than a commonplace tagline at Beef & Boards; it is the perfect way to describe every experience you'll have there.
What would it be like to live "under the sea"? Beef & Board's THE LITTLE MERMAID provides the audience with a fantastical glimpse into the world of King Triton and Ariel along with her friends in this colorful, bubbly show now showing at Beef & Boards from now until June 30th.
Based on the ever-lasting and beloved Hans Christian Andersen classic tale from 1837 and readapted in the more modern 1989 Walt Disney animated film, the story follows a strong-willed mermaid who longs to be part of the world above. With book by Doug Wright, music by Alan Menken, and lyrics by Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater, the musical opened for a stint on Broadway in 2008 and only ran for just under two years. It was nominated for a Tony Award and Drama Desk Award for Best Musical Show Album.
Sarah Daniels (previously Sandy in GREASE) completely owned the role of Ariel as soon as she opened her mouth to sing. Her voice was so pure as she ran through all the forbidden tales of "The World Above" that it seemed doubly a shame when she traded it away for a pair of human legs in a pact with sea witch, Ursula. I was initially worried about Kelly Teal Goyette (Ursula) as in other productions, she can get lost inside the folds of her costume - but she still proved agile enough to reach some great moments of both entertainment and tragedy. Her pleasantly devious "Poor Unfortunate Souls" dripped with self-pity and resentment, and the less familiar lyrics from "Daddy's Little Angel" did her well too. Chris Trombetta got the all-out comical role of Scuttle, the bird-brained expert of all things landlubber. His vocal and dancing talents got the most out of score's better new songs, "Positoovity," which is a nice attempt by the lyricist, Glenn Slater, to give the musical a scaled-down "Hakuna Matata".
The live orchestra under the direction of Terry Woods helped makes all the company sound their best and positively buoys all of Choreographer Ron Morgan's dancing denizens of the deep. I do have to give a shout out to costume design by MSMT Costumes who did an incredible job.
Audiences both young and old will both enjoy this live-action retelling of a Disney classic. I was at first concerned, but there was more to THE LITTLE MERMAID than froth and bubbles. Honestly, this was probably the best show I've seen at Beef & Boards. More than 100 years later, Hans Christian Andersen's tale has not lost its relevance. Adults will enjoy the show as much as their children. Don't miss your chance to swim the seven seas and witness the spectacles that await in the mysterious fathoms below and the skies above at Beef & Boards from now until June 30th.