BWW Review: Lea Michele Heads All-Star Cast Raising LIVE-TO-FILM: THE LITTLE MERMAID Above the Sea & Into the Stratosphere
THE LITTLE MERMAID: AN IMMERSIVE LIVE-TO-FILM CONCERT EXPERIENCE/music & lyrics by Alan Menken & Howard Ashman/score by Alan Menken/directed by Richard Kraft/musical direction by Michael Kosarin/Hollywood Bowl/May 17 & 18, 2019
A vocally-gifted, all-star cast accompanied by a gorgeous, live orchestra breathed added dimensions to Disney's animated Little Mermaid. The screening of this 30-year-old Disney classic received the IMMERSIVE LIVE-TO-FILM CONCERT EXPERIENCE treatment. Mousetrappe's vivid projections enhanced the film's visuals across the width of the entire Bowl's shell connecting the main center screen with the two smaller screens on the sides, transforming the Hollywood Bowl into the Hollywood Fish Bowl Drive-in, (er, Dive-In) - and underwater, under the sea. Briskly directed by Richard Kraft with the orchestra appropriately re-titled "Hot Crustacean Band" (under the most nimble musical direction of conductor Michael Kosarin), music included not only that from the film, but also newer songs from the Broadway musical THE LITTLE MERMAID.
MERMAID's basic story goes: Mermaid Ariel unsatisfied with her life under the sea, collects souvenirs of the humans above the sea, with the help of her friend Flounder. Ariel's father, King Triton, leery of Ariel's unknown excursions, sends his court musician Sebastian the crab to keep an eye on her whereabouts. One day while venturing above the sea, Ariel rescues Eric, a handsome prince in the midst of being shipwrecked. King Triton's evil sister Ursula, constantly scheming to regain power from her estranged brother, views Ariel's attraction to human Eric as her potent weapon to utilize in this sibling rivalry.
Lea Michele as the titular Ariel NAILED her "Part of Your World" with her soaring vocals, while encased in two ethereal blue gowns. Harvey Fierstein's deep, raspy vocals were completely PERFECT for the villainess Ursula's wickedly evil "Poor Unfortunate Souls." Ken Page OWNED his role of Sebastian in his two joyous, JOYOUS, powerhouse songs "Under the Sea" and "Kiss the Girl."
Peter Gallagher regally asserted King Triton's authority in "The World Above."
Known to many for his time on Season 6 of The Voice, Leo Gallo's powerful, yet velvety voice captivated all in Prince Eric's "Her Voice."
Who knew comedian Cheech Marin, infamous for his Chicano, marijuana-induced personae, could hysterically astound with his French accent as Chef Louis in "Les Poissons"? Nice!!!
Young Joshua Turchin charmed as the boyish Flounder in "She's in Love," backed by the effervescent female chorus.
A change of pace showstopper (aside from the glorious, glorious solos) featured the heavenly quartet of the harmonic vocals of Michele, Gallo, Page and Gallagher in "If Only." Simply a delectable musical feast for your ears!!!
The night ended with a performance from Little Mermaid's Oscar-winning composer Alan Menken. Menken shared that Howard Ashman and he jokingly referred to "Part of Your World," as "Somewhere That's Wet," and then sang it accompanying himself on the grand piano.
Evening began with a costume contest with entrants of all ages. Of course, the biggest applause deservedly went to a pair of pint-sized siblings decked out in their miniature Mermaid finery.
Then, the 'dive-in' movie experience started, with videos of "Coming Attractions," featuring clever movie title puns as Pokéhontas, Inside Trout, Buoys & Gulls, among many others. The 1938 Silly Symphony cartoon short Merbabies unspooled, featuring an original score composed and meticulously performed by 17-year-old pianist Emily Bear.
Special mention to the double-time playing trio, augmenting the Hot Crustacean Band in the second act opener "Jig," - Lindsay Deutsch on violin, Melinda West on accordion and Elizabeth Lacoste on flute.
And who can ignore a big shaggy dog on stage - Bagel as Eric's loveable sheep dog Max.
Let's not forget the hard-working men and women of the singing and dancing chorus - Bravo to all of them!
All in all, a lovely night at the Hollywood Fish Bowl Dive-In, Under the Sea.
THE LITTLE MERMAID: AN IMMERSIVE LIVE-TO-FILM CONCERT EXPERIENCE was produced by Laura Engel & Richard Kraft, Columbia Artists/Tim Fox & Alison Ahart Williams, and Live Nation/Andrew Hewitt & Bill Silva Presents, in association with Disney Concerts.
For future Hollywood Bowl events, log onto www.hollywoodbowl.com