Grab your snorkels and fins and dive into Music Mountain Theatre’s production of “Disney’s The Little Mermaid,” which is now playing through July 22.
The Music Mountain Theatre is located on Route 179 in Lambertville.
The 1989 Disney animated-musical, comes to life on stage and provides love, laughs and enjoyment as the audience is thrown under the sea and experiences the classic story.
The play opens with Ariel the mermaid (played by Mari Pomykacz) singing, The World Above,a song with a self-explanatory title.Coming out onto the stage in Heelys, (sneakers with wheels in the heel of the shoe) Ariel rolls onto the stage to give the effect of her swimming. A white curtain hangs behind her to show that she is under the ocean’s surface.
The curtain falls and hangs about a foot above the ground, the side of a ship is behind it. Standing along the ship’s edge is Prince Eric (Gigi Gibilisco), Grimsby (Bob Abrahamson) and their crew of sailors. They all go into a joint ensemble titled, Fathoms Below. The two opening numbers parallel each other and really set the theme for the entire production. Both leads, Ariel and Eric, are longing for a life different from their own.
We drop way below the surface and enter King Triton’s Court where King Triton (Mike Wisnosky), Ariel’s father, is awaiting the production of a song performed by all seven of his daughters.
The Daughters of Tritonnumber is performed by Meagan Lee Hodson, Ali McMullen, Chelsea Connelly, Lucy Fischer, Erin Wurtz and Jenna Gibilisco. The six of them on Heelys swam around the stage and gave a wonderful performance, not only for this song, but throughout the entire performance!
When Ariel does not show up for the performance of Triton’s seven daughters, King Triton assigns his daughters singing instructor, Sebastian the Crab (Tim Chastain), to follow her and keep her out of trouble.
The scene changing, another curtain comes across the stage, this one set to a pinkish, purple hue and the audience now enters Ursula’s Lair. Wearing a black dress with a Victorian style bottom, which extended at her waist, eight purple tentacles surrounded its circumference, and Jennifer Fischer entered the stage as Ursula.
Fischer, accompanied by her two electric eels, Flotsam and Jetsam, played by Caleb Duffy and Jenna Parrilla, gave an incredible performance as the sea witch. During the scene, she gives Ursula’s backstory as King Triton’s sister and how she killed their father along with their six sisters. Banished after Triton came to power, Ursula sits in her lair biding her time to make her return to power.
Ariel makes her return to the stage in the next scene, as Mari Pomykacz sings A Part of Your Worldthat would make Jodi Benson herself, proud.
We can see Ariel’s want to be a part of the human’s world strong in this scene, as Prince Eric’s ship is above her on the ocean’s surface. A storm makes its way through and knocks Eric off of his ship. Ariel watching from a far, sees this and saves Eric from drowning and carries him to the surface.
Singing over his unconscious body, Ariel falls in love with Eric, while he falls in love with her voice, which he hears during his unconscious state.
When Eric eventually wakes up, he tells Grimsby of the voice he hears when being saved and says he must find the girl. Grimsby, wanting Eric to get married on the day of his twenty-first birthday, which is in three days’ time, tells him he will invite every princess in the land to a singing competition on the eve of his birthday, so he can find the girl with the voice he had fallen in love with.
Ursula eventually catches wind of Ariel falling in love with a human and executes a plan that will give her Triton’s throne. Luring Ariel to her lair, she tells her that she can make her a human using her magic conch shell. Though, it will come at a price. Ariel must give Ursula her voice. For Ariel to stay a human forever, she must get Prince Eric to kiss her within the next three days. If she does not, Ursula will take her soul.
Ariel agrees and Act I comes to a close as she is sent to the surface with human legs and no voice to try to win the heart of Prince Eric.
Tim Chastain as Sebastian was a highlight of the show. Chastain’s performances of Under the Seaand Kiss the Girl, were just fantastic and it was like I was five years old again watching the animated film on VHS. Chastain brought his humor and wit to the portrayal of Sebastian and it worked wonderfully.
David McCloughan Jr. though not having a huge part in the show, had one solo performance as Chef Louis. McCloughan Jr. took full advantage of his time on stage and used his deep voice to his advantage. His performance of Les Poissons, was very entertaining and a lot of fun.
Drew Freeman, a young teen, portrayed the fish, Flounder. Swimming across the stage during every scene he was in, the blue and yellow fish really grabbed the audience’s attention whenever he was performing.
Directed and choreographed by Louis Palena, the production truly felt as if we were underwater. From the use of the Heelys shoes to every cast member holding their arms up as if they were swimming, Palena did a great job in making sure the underwater scenes were genuine.
Jordan Brennan, the Costumer Designer, deserves to be mentioned as well. Brennan truly nailed the attire for every cast member and preserved the authenticity of the Disney production.
“Disney’s The Little Mermaid,” continues at Music Mountain Theatre, 1483 Route 179 Lambertsville, through July 22. For tickets and information, go to www.musicmountaintheatre.org; 609-397-3337.