Disney’s The Little Mermaid
- playing at Olney Theatre Centre (Olney, MD)
- dates: now through December 28, 2014
- directed by Mark Waldrop
- Roar Score: 4/5
Can you believe Disney’s The Little Mermaid is having its 25th anniversary this year? Hard to believe, I know. Ariel is all grown up.
Timed to coincide with this anniversary and capitalize on the perennial appeal of that red-headed mermaid, Olney Theatre Center in Olney, MD (about 45 minutes from both DC and Baltimore) recently launched its performance of the stage version.
Is it ok to use the word splashtastic? Probably not, but I will anyway. This production is very, very good.
If you’re going to see a stage performance of The Little Mermaid, you likely know what you’re in for in terms of the story. There’s really no need to rehash the plot or explain who Ariel, Flounder, King Triton, Prince Eric, and Ursula are.
Rest assured, though, that they all appear, so your little mermaid fanatics should be pleased. The transition from screen to stage is fairly comprehensive, if not more so. All of the scenes and songs you remember from the movie are here. Plus a ton of extra songs. Alan Menken wrote ten new songs for the musical.
The Broadway show premiered in 2008 to mixed reviews and has undergone several “reimaginings” since. The show certainly never had the kind of wild success that The Lion King musical enjoyed.
Still, if you’re a fan of the movie, the story, or Alan Menken’s music, there’s a lot to enjoy here. The stage and set design is gorgeous and really brings to life the undersea world. Some of the costumes are fantastic, including Ursula’s tentacle dress.
Lara Zinn turns in a pitch-perfect Ariel, never straying far from Jodi Benson’s lead from the film. And with a play like The Little Mermaid, which has an audience full of little girls expecting to hear the voice and songs they know, this is a good thing. There were a lot of satisfied kids after the show.
Joe Chisholm (Prince Eric), Clark Young (Scuttle), and Donna Migliaccio (Ursula) also deliver wonderful performances. One postures like a romanticized prince, one squawks and flies over the stage, and one broods and casts a long villainous shadow.
My only complaint (with the story, not this production) is that Flounder pines after Ariel with painfully unrequited love. His infatuation with her is blatant and persistent. Now, it’s been a while since I’ve seen the movie, but weren’t Ariel and Flounder just friends? I don’t remember there being a subtext of sexual frustration.
The show is also long (2 hrs 15 minutes with an intermission), so be prepared for that. By contrast, the movie is only 83 minutes long. I might not recommend this for the youngest kids (simply because of its length), but my 3-year-old enjoyed it and remained relatively captivated throughout.
Go ahead. Dive under the sea, and enjoy this production. Just don’t think too much about the story or its underlying message (which is a subject for an entirely different time).
Disney’s The Little Mermaid is playing at Olney Theatre Center in Olney, MD (2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Rd, Olney, MD) through December 28, 2014. Tickets can be purchased online or by calling the box office at 301-924-3400.