BWW Reviews: THE LITTLE MERMAID at White Plains Performing Arts Center
Once again, White Plains Performing Arts Center has staged an inspired production. Fresh off their reimagined "Sweeney Todd," this production of "The Little Mermaid" proves good theatre is happening in White Plains. The theater itself is converted from a movie theatre, so it makes this experience particularly feel like one is watching an actual movie. The staging and costumes are larger than life. The whole experience makes for a magical feeling of being immersed in a sea adventure. Evan Hill's set design helped to literally convey an underworld of mermaids and other sea creatures.
Based on the Disney animated movie, the familiar family tale has young Ariel yearning for a life of love beyond the sea. Failing to heed the advice of her father and crab handler Sebastian, Ariel trades her voice for a fresh pair of legs and has mere hours to make the prince fall in love with her and get her voice back with a kiss of true love. Children of all ages will marvel at the singing, the staging, the cast presence, and the costumes in this shimmering jewel of a show.
Director Jeremy Quinn cast triple threats for all the roles with resounding singers, actors, and dancers. Starting with Ariel herself, Beth Stafford Laird has established herself as a versatile performer. She sings the role beautifully and conveys the yearning for a bigger, better life with more than just swimming with immense passion. Rodney Ingram as Prince Eric, looks like the movie character, completely matches Ms. Laird in voice and energy.
Once John Treacey Egan as Ursula takes the stage, you know this is going to be unlike your usual production. When Mr. Egan entered, the audience went wild. The costume itself should get its own bow (thanks to Maine State Musical Theatre) and Mr. Egan completely embodies Ursula with humor and operatic singing.
On Broadway the production floundered (pun intended) with roller skating sea creatures. Here the performers embody the characters with such zest and relish. Dj Petrosino as Scuttle brought the house down with the tap-dancing "Positoovity" and Cartreze Tucker vocally added a new vocal dimension to "Under the Sea." Andrew Hendrick added comic relief as Chef Louis.
Stephen Ferri has assembled a sophisticated orchestra and conducted them with tight harmonies and ensemble. Mr. Ferri manages to make every number nuanced and distinctive. The counterpoint in the songs was quite impressively executed. Lexie Fennell Fraire added impressive choreography in which the ensemble executed with flourish.
All and all, the production of "The Little Mermaid" is an artistic triumph. Mr. Quinn has given this production a fresh spin that will enchant all "little Mermaids" who aspire to live out their dreams with their handsomest, most helpful and loving prince.