BWW Review: THE LITTLE MERMAID at Hale Center Theater Orem is a Joy

BWW Review: THE LITTLE MERMAID at Hale Center Theater Orem is a Joy

Hale Center Theater Orem's production of Disney's THE LITTLE MERMAID can't help but bring joy to the audience's faces with its fresh, skilled interpretation of a beloved story and characters.

The show (music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater, and book by Doug Wright) tells the tale of a young mermaid named Ariel who will give anything, even her beautiful voice, to be with Prince Eric--a human with whom she has fallen in love. But will he fall in love with her in return before it's too late?

THE LITTLE MERMAID is a Broadway musical as much deserving of success as the hit animated film on which it's based. With a shimmering score that features both old and new favorites, it has all the makings of a hit. Thankfully, the show is beginning to get its "day in the sun." The new licensed version features a number of revisions from the original Broadway version, including new, cut, and reordered songs, as well as book changes. For the most part, these revisions improve the storytelling, although some of the cut music is missed.

Lauren Pope (double cast with Arianna Higbee) is delightful as Ariel with a mischievous sparkle in her eye but still a grounded, emotional take on the material. Her beautiful singing voice does not leave any room to wonder why Prince Eric wouldn't be able to forget it.

David Matthew Smith (single cast) fills the role of Eric admirably, with clear, enjoyable vocals. Mack as Ursula (double cast with Cole McClure) is just the right kind of campy fun, and Dave Burton as King Triton (single cast) has both a regal strength and a fatherly tenderness.

Alec Powell as Sebastian (double cast with Luseane Pasa), Wade Johnson (double cast with Amber Dodge Tinney) as Scuttle, and Nate Waite (double cast with Paul McGrew) as Chef Louis wonderfully bring their animated characters to life.

Tanner Perelle as Flounder (single cast) is one of the highlights of the show with his funny, warm interpretation. Another strength of this production is the characterization of Ariel's sisters, both individually and together. Each is well-drawn and unique, with hilarious results.

The costume design by Cole McClure, in concert with the hair and makeup design by Janna Larsen, are the star of the show. The detailed, fantastical costume creations fill the small stage with color and texture. It is sometimes difficult to get past the decision to wrap the mermaid's tails all the way around their body, as they would have been much more visually appealing had they extended even slightly. However, that issue is trivial in comparison to the rest of the creatively conceived designs. Especially memorable are Ursula's twisted, tentacled skirt and Ariel's breathtaking blue gown.

Cody Swenson's lighting design is versatile and impactful, alternately giving the illusion of being both "under the sea" and in "the world above."

THE LITTLE MERMAID plays through April 14, 2018. For tickets, call the box office at 801-226-8600 or visit www.haletheater.org.

Photo Credit: Lauren Pope (Ariel). Photo by Suzy Oliveira.

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From This Author Tyler Hinton

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