Children have been falling in love with The Little Mermaid since Hans Christian Andersen first set it down on paper nearly 200 years ago writes John Hurton.
Then, in 1989, Disney gave the story its own special treatment with a film that heralded a renaissance in Disney animation.
With Howard Ashman and Alan Menken’s wonderful songs it was almost inevitable that this was adapted into a Broadway show in 2008 delighting a new generation of musical theatre fans.
It’s this Broadway version that has been specially modified for younger performers and which played to packed houses with two shows at Melton Theatre last Sunday.
Performed by Trevonne Stage School’s Bright Sparks Musical Theatre Company, the production sailed along at a fair rate of knots and was a splash hit on every level. Under Zoe Elliot’s capable direction and choreography, the Bright Sparks shone with skill and enthusiasm no matter what their age. The energy coming off the stage couldn’t help but invigorate the already appreciative audience who clapped and cheered.
The story of Ariel, the rebellious mermaid who falls in love with a handsome prince and longs to swap her fins for “What do you call them?..Feet,” and live her life out of the sea is well known and well loved. In order to achieve her dream, she has to firstly defy her father, King Triton and make a deal with the evil sea witch, Ursula, to gain her feet and convince Prince Eric that she is the girl whose enchanting voice he’s been seeking.
The whole talented cast excelled and it would be impossible to credit every single member but everyone in the ensemble pieces acted and moved well and created their own individual characters admirably supporting the principal players.
They should all be proud of the hard work that they had obviously put in during rehearsals. The principals too showed great skill and were well cast led by the superb Rachel Hall as Ariel; full of teenage angst and rebellion contrasted by times of pathos and romance. Her impressive voice was ever present, a particular highlight for me being her beautiful rendition of “Part of Your World.”
The main protagonists were ably supported by a strong supporting cast of humans and sea creatures with the ever-dependable Stuart Scarborough, as King Triton, bringing some gravitas and possibly a little professional experience to the proceedings.
Comedy was also high on the agenda with some very witty lines delivered well by this young cast, principally amongst them the talented Melanie Daniels, as the much put upon crab, Sebastian, who led the ensemble in perhaps the most famous song from the film, the now classic, “Under The Sea”.
A show like this is not just about the performances. There are sets, costumes and a host of other technical details to contend with. Every department excelled. In particular, the costumes, the majority of which had been made by parents who should be congratulated for all their brilliant hard work. With a company this size, behind the scenes logistics of getting the cast on and off with multiple costume changes can be a nightmare but it all went smoothly from the front.
This was another excellent triumph for Trevonne’s Bright Sparks and, whether on land or sea, I’m sure everyone who attended on Sunday would agree, you’re all star fish!