By Chris Heide
Disney’s The Little Mermaid splashes its way into the 5th Avenue Theatre this month. A bombastic and bright production, The Little Mermaid is steeped in nostalgia. The original animated film kicked off Disney’s animation renascence during the 90’s. Because of that fact, the production has a built in familiarity that likely appeals to its broad, diverse audience. Anything that appeals to millennial’s nostalgia factor is likely to be a sure-fire hit.
Overall, the show is good. Many of the highlights are direct recreations of moments from the film. Those signature moments play out without much alteration. Numbers such as “Kiss The Girl” and “Under the Sea” are bright, technicolor explosions, filled with tight choreography and flashy set pieces. They are crowd pleasing moments, as evidences by the rapturous applause following each song.
Hometown starlet, Diana Huey, is cast at Ariel. Huey embodies that strong, yet innocent naivety that Ariel displays in the film. As expected, Huey’s big moment comes early in the show, during her Broadway style rendition of “Part Of Your World”. The song possesses some huge notes and Huey absolutely eviscerates them all.
Other standouts include Melvin Abston as Sebastian and Jennifer Allen as Ursula. Both actors seemed to fully commit to their roles and expectedly has many scene-stealing moments throughout the show.
For all of its strengths, the show is not perfect. Many of the big moments are rapturous, but much of the show drags. The new songs are mostly unremarkable and too much of the dialogue is filled with puns. In essence, the show feels longer than it should, something that is heavily noticeable in the second act.
Overall, it’s a fun, family friendly production that most audiences will enjoy. This is definitely not a gritty adult production, ala The Book Of Mormon or Kinky Boots. That said, The Little Mermaid is a show that seems perfect for a holiday run- something that families will be able to enjoy together.