How delightful is it to have not just a wealth of theater in our region, but also a host of talented child actors. “Disney’s The Little Mermaid,” which recently concluded its run at the Children’s Theatre of Annapolis (CTA), showcases fantastic kids and more. It is a lovely production, filled with talented voices and impressively complex choreography which leave you smiling.
…a lovely production, filled with talented voices and impressively complex choreography which leave you smiling…a spirited, creative, and inspired production of this timeless story.
This stage musical is based on the Hans Christian Andersen tale and the 1989 animated Disney film (a live action remake was released this year), tells the story of Prince Eric and the young mermaid, Ariel. The show opens with Prince Eric, navigating the sea nd transfixed by a beautiful voice. Ariel, whose father, King Triton, does not care for humans, is dismayed as she explores the surface and develops an admiration for human things. When Eric’s boat capsizes and Ariel saves him, a love begins to emerge between mermaid and human—a bond that will be challenged by many, including Ariel’s group of evil sisters.
Ariel’s evil aunt Ursula fully emerges as the journey continues into the Second Act. Ariel agrees to trade her voice to Ursula in order to become human and pursue her love for Eric. Yet when time runs out on their agreement and King Triton learns of it, a challenge to the underwater kingdom emerges. Can a father save the soul of his daughter? Can happiness emerge from the depths of evil?
As Ariel, 17-year-old Anna Porter exudes warmth, not only in the richness of her voice, but also in her acting which helps the audience connect with her character. Her counterpart on stage, Cole German’s Prince Eric, sings with a natural ease and fluidity. They are a wonderful duo at the emotional core of Director Atticus C. Boidy’s production.
Boidy, along with choreographer Sierra Basilio, manage this large cast well. From the opening to the finale, the actors move smoothly on stage to a variety of dance styles (including tap), such as the always wonderful “Under the Sea” (with 18 actors on stage). The technical strength of this production is also evident in the orchestra, where Music Director and Conductor Emily L. Sergo guides a six-person team through the famed Alan Menken score. They are just as an orchestra should be in a musical—elevating the scenes on stage without overpowering the actors with their instruments, a credit to Sergo and Sound Designer Stephanie Condon.
This fast-paced production moves well also because of the constant stream of costumes, smartly designed by Katie Herman and range from regal to underwater and so much more. The over 70 costumes help pull you into this show. This includes the tentacle-clad Ursula (a delightfully creepy Mia Rinehart) and the boisterous red crab, Sebastian, played by Jeremiah Gilbert, who handles both the show’s rigors and an effective Trinidadian accent, adding to the fun.
This is a “Little Mermaid” which works well because of the wide range of talent on stage. Kayleigh Berkoski, Layla Bunch, Morgan Kay, Anya Lengbeyer, Cristal Santiago Velez, and Grayce Warner are a fun group of teen actresses playing Ariel’s evil sisters (each clad in a different color dress from Herman) who add talent, levity, and movement. Justin Porath as King Triton is effective as he delivers strength from his voice and literal blasts from his trident. Helena Gray, as Chef Louis and the Pilot, is another strong presence on stage. It is, all told, a spirited, creative, and inspired production of this timeless story.
Running Time: Approximately two hours and 35 minutes, with one 15-minute intermission.
“Disney’s The Little Mermaid” ran October 20-November 5, 2023 at Children’s Theatre of Annapolis, 1661 Bay Head Road, Annapolis, MD 21409. For more information and tickets on upcoming shows and events, go online.