Disney The Little Mermaid. Music by Alan Menken. Lyrics by Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater. Book by Doug Wright. Musical director Adam Bluhm. Choreographer Jodi Hammond. Directed by Jordan Best. Ickle Pickle Productions. Belconnen Community Theatre, Friday Jan 10 – Sat Jan 25.
Having been reared on Hans Christian Andersen’s deeply tragic original I find I have to simply switch that part of the memory off to deal with this show. Which is, of course, a different take on the tale.
Yes, it’s still about a mermaid who falls for a human prince and becomes human herself in an effort to win him. But this version is littered with song and dance and eccentric underwater characters and the ending is much more upbeat.
The cast is led by a charming Ariel, well sung and performed by Emily Pogson. Ben Brown is equally charming as Prince Eric but needs to get more breath behind what is a nicely placed voice. Hopefully the problem is temporary, since they work together rather well.
They are opposed by the dreadful sea witch Ursula in a commanding and funny performance from Janie Lawson. She eyeballs the audience with venom, backed up ably in her machinations by henchfish Flotsam (Jackie McIntyre) and Jetsam (Elliot Cleaves).
Jade Breen turns in a beautifully wide eyed performance as Flounder, the fish with an unrequited crush on Ariel. Jack Morton is an affable and funny Scuttle, the seagull with an eccentric use of language. Samuel Dietz as Prince Eric’s old mentor Grimsby seems a little on the young side but supports the Prince ably. Meaghan Stewart struts around with a vigorous sense of character as Ariel’s crab mentor Sebastian.
There’s a good cameo from Joss Kent as Chef Louis, serving up the seafood at Prince Eric’s palace to a shocked Ariel. (Is that Nemo I see on a plate…?) And the six other daughters of the impressively noble King Triton (Michael Jordan) make quite a tribe of sibling rivals.
Director Jordan Best does an excellent job of marshalling a rather large and youthful cast who are required to be everything from a figureheaded ship and its crew to courtiers to underwater denizens. The Belconnen Community Theatre does not have a big stage but Ian Croker's compactly imaginative set makes the most of the space, it is peopled convincingly and it is choreographed sensibly by Jodi Hammond, whether the scene is below the waves or in the courts of kings.