Disney’s The Little Mermaid (Nov. 8 – Dec. 23; All ages)
Nashville Children’s Theatre
25 Middleton St., Nashville
615-252-4675 • nashvillect.org
Remaining show times: Fri 7 p.m.; Sat 2 & 7 p.m.; Sun 2 p.m.; Wednesday, Nov. 28 at 1 p.m.; Thursday, Dec. 20 at 7 p.m.
Tickets: $21 adults, $16 children
Nashville Children’s Theatre (NCT) makes a sensational splash with its charming production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid.
Directed by Ernie Nolan and backed by a live orchestra, NCT delivers a crowd-pleasing performance of the beloved tale of a 16-year-old mermaid who dreams of life on land. The musical is based on the mega-popular Disney animated film from 1989, which in turn is based on a story by Hans Christian Andersen.
Children adore this beloved story. All the “oohs,” “aahs” and squeals of delight erupting from pint-sized audience members on opening night are testament to NCT’s success in making its adaptation a huge hit.
LITTLE MERMAID THEMES
Even within the hour-and-15-minute run time of NCT’s production, many of the themes within The Little Mermaid are prevalent.
Ariel’s story arc dives deeper than a mere quest for legs to walk on land in order to score the cute boy. In this arena, the seemingly rebellious mermaid feels like she doesn’t fit in with her underwater world. Therefore, she becomes insistent on changing her life’s path — a theme that resonates with people of any age. It sends an empowering message to kids that one can alter the course of his or her future.
In addition, this version of The Little Mermaid presents King Triton (Galen Fott) and the wicked sea witch Ursula (Piper Jones) as brother and sister. This take allows for a more fleshed-out storyline of sibling rivalry, giving both characters a little more depth.
There’s also the message of the importance of being non-judgmental toward others based on physical differences. That’s a powerful message for kids to embrace.
A MAGICAL WORLD
Court Watson’s scenic design coupled with Robin L. McGee’s exquisite costuming creates a vivid, magical fairy tale world. Robust with color, the show is a visual delight. It’s the perfect complement to the strong talent of the cast.
Catherine Birdsong stars as Ariel. Her beautiful stage presence and delightful vocals make her role memorable. Birdsong’s bubbly personality shines bright, perfectly capturing the whimsy and charm of her feisty teenage character.
The best fairy tales are ones containing a solid villain you love to hate. The best villains, however, are ones who possess an endearing quality, regardless of how offbeat it may be. The Little Mermaid’s Ursula is no exception. Perhaps one of the most identifiable of Disney’s villains, the contemptuous, revenge-seeking, tentacled sea witch — with her electric eel lackeys Flotsam and Jetsam — makes for a fun romp through some serious trickery.
The dynamic Piper Jones delivers a deliciously devilish Urusla. Enhanced by fantastic makeup and a costume with giant, moving tentacles (courtesy of puppeteers), Jones is a crowd favorite. She has tremendous comedic timing and astounding vocal prowess.
Corbin Williams gives a solid performance as Prince Eric. Fott does double duty as the powerful King Triton and the hilarious Chef Louis. A robust ensemble cast brings much energy to the stage.
NCT takes a fabulous approach to Ariel’s closest friends. Sebastian (James Rudolph), Flounder (Abbey Rhyne) and Scuttle (Isaac Brotzman) are puppets that each actor manipulates and voices. This is a remarkable stroke giving the production even more oomph when it comes to engaging youngsters. Rudolph, Rhyne and Brotzman do a phenomenal job bringing these beloved characters to life with lots of personality.
Flotsam and Jetsam are puppets, too. Jack Tanzi and C. James Bare lend the pair of evil eels superbly sinister — and comical — personas.
Disney music is among the most recognizable to kids. Alan Menken’s songs are Disney standards, and the NCT cast performs them splendidly. You and your kids will enjoy favorites like “Part of Your World,” “Les Poissons” and “Kiss the Girl.”
“Under the Sea,” though, is the spectacular, show-stopping musical number. It’s Sebastian’s plea for Ariel to remain in her watery world. The joyous, calypso/reggae-infused number brings to the stage an entire world of underwater creatures, from a sparkly whale to larger-than-life jellyfish.
NCT’s The Little Mermaid is a fun, theatrical treat. So, make your own date for a trip “under the sea” with your kids.