BWW Review: Disney's THE LITTLE MERMAID Makes a Splash
Hold your breath, because the Pittsburgh CLO is about to dive right into the water and take you under the sea! Disney's The Little Mermaid, based closely off the 1989 animated film, returned to the Benedum Center on Tuesday evening and continues with performances running through next week.
Glitz, glimmer, and pizzazz abound in this production, as scenic, costume, and lighting designs take center stage at every opportunity. Often with Disney shows, this level of spectacle is enough to wow a crowd, but the coupling of talent with these visually attractive designs make for a wonderful theatrical experience.
The story of The Little Mermaid is a coming of age tale of Ariel (Diana Huey), the youngest daughter of King Triton (Steve Blanchard). Unlike her older six sisters, Ariel wants more - to walk where the people are, to see them dancing- and this desire is multiplied when she falls in love with Prince Eric (Eric Kunze). Ariel gives her voice to the sea witch Ursula (Jennifer Allen) in exchange for legs so that she go after her heart's desire, but she must find a new way to get this message across to the prince, now voiceless.
Having watched the movie growing up, I grew sad watching the CLO's production; I feared that I would not be able to hear Ms. Huey's voice for the entire second act. During the first act, she plunges into the depths of oceans and hearts alike, with - and I try to be objective here - one of the most pristine voices to grace the Benedum Stage. "Part of Your World" leaves everyone with chills, and her controlled, crisp tones are never overdramatic, which occasionally comes from Disney shows. Luckily, due to some clever arrangement, the second act is not void of that treasured voice.
The snarky and clam-orous Ursula also gave an eel-ectrifying performance. Ms. Allen's "Poor Unfortunate Souls" seals Ariel's voiceless fate and proves Ms. Allen as a force to be reckon with in the darkest part of the ocean. She instills the perfect amount of fear without being too scary for a younger audience, even with her tentacles measuring almost twice her height.
Despite excelling in the area of elaborate and complex design, sloppy execution during some scenes and scene changes did not go unnoticed. The fly system, which allows everyone from mermaids to seagulls to float across the stage, luckily, operated efficiently. There are also unexpected times when it truly looks as though mermaids are swimming through the sea and across the stage. It isn't too often that you can get this bird's, or rather, fish eye view.
With the first week of summer upon us, it only makes sense to swim to the Benedum Center to see The Little Mermaid. Such wonderful things will surround you, what more is you lookin' for?
To see or not to see score: 7/9; Recommended Show
Photo Credit: Steve Wilson