Disney’s The Little Mermaid
Reflections by GVPTA blogger Mary Littlejohn
Nostalgia has always been a big factor in drawing crowds to the theatre. Align Entertainment infuses a childhood favourite with new spins (and roller shoes!) to create colourful, vibrant retelling of Disney’s The Little Mermaid. There was so much joy and enthusiasm both onstage and in the audience, my inner eight-year-old could barely contain herself.
All the familiar songs are there - “Under The Sea”, “Part Of Your World”, “Kiss The Girl” - along with some new ditties to enhance the romance (“Her Voice”, “One Step Closer”) and give us some backstory (“Daddy’s Little Angel”). Some modifications to the film’s original plot were necessary; after all, some things just wouldn’t work on stage, no matter how big your budget. The final sea battle packs a different kind of punch this time around, with a more modern and ultimately stronger message for the young kids watching, even if it is a bit anti-climactic. (I have to congratulate whoever was responsible for those giant tentacles! Very effective and totally unexpected!).
For all the clever marine-life design (those jellyfish!) and superb dancing (tapping seagulls!), the heart of the show rested with its two leads, Elyse Maloway and Colton Fyfe. As soon as they shared the stage, the show transcended spectacle and became a real story about two teenagers unsure of their place in the world and finding each other. Call me a hopeless romantic, but I found their chemistry very touching.
There are different kinds of theatre magic. Align has quite a few. One is the ability to pull us so completely into a world so unlike our own, full of bigger-than-life characters - headstrong fish-out-of-water Ariel, silly Scuttle, evil Ursula, long-suffering Sebastian. The “actual” magic, done with lights, props, costumes and wires. Most important, though, is the magic of bringing people together; sharing the experience of live theatre with hundreds of families. I saw kids dressed as princesses, kids dancing in their seats, and parents re-living the childhood wonder that Disney does so well. I’d bet that this was the first musical some of these kids ever saw, and hopefully it will spark a love of the genre that will last them their whole life long. That’s the best kind of magic.
The Little Mermaid’s run is Feb 3-18, 2017. Its last show is tonight, February 18.