Long before Disney got its metaphorical and musical hooks into Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen” to manufacture 2013’s Frozen, they adapted his original “The Little Mermaid” for the screen in 1989. Bolstered by Oscar-winning music by composer Alan Menken and the late, great lyricist Howard Ashman, the incredible success of The Little Mermaid ushered in the Mouse House’s first animation renaissance.
That renaissance begat more highly acclaimed films like Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King which begat highly acclaimed stage adaptations of those movies.
The simple story of Ariel (Bella Gabor), the youngest of King Triton’s (David Blatz) seven daughters. She spends all her time at the ocean’s surface collecting artifacts of the human world with her lovesick friend Flounder (Kaet Sisnet) and human stuff “expert” Scuttle (the always hilarious Claire Looker). Everything changes though when she lays eyes on the dashing Prince Eric (JT Snow).
Ignoring advice from her father and her maestro Sebastian (the always exciting Jack Cannon), Ariel makes a deal with her evil aunt Ursula (Maisie Allen) to trade her voice for the chance to be human and win Eric’s affection.
Every minute of this performance is packed with colorful costumes, high energy ensemble numbers, and fun technical elements. The most distinct of these was their usage of aerial apparatus, complete with impressive dancers. The aerial apparatus used is an aerial net, two silks, a corde lisse and HHS’s signature Lyra hoop turned on its side to become a chandelier. These five elements added a whole new dimension to the choreography, set, and lighting elements of the show, for they were used in imaginative ways, such as for ropes with sailors scaling up them, Arial’s transformation, a perch for Scuttle and more.
One of the most entrancing things about Ariel’s character is her voice, for which Bella Gabor met all expectations. Her silky voice complimented her character, for her songs all conveyed deep emotion vocally. This was showcased in the famous number, “Part of Your World.” Gabor is truly a multi-talented actor, as she sang her songs, she is also manipulating herself through the air on the aerial net. One element that is different in this production is the use of “Ariel’s Voice” in the Second Act. Instead of Ariel singing songs when her voice has been stolen, a trio of women, Rebecca Helmstetter, Tessa Lusis and Elizabeth Foster embody her voice, singing harmonies as Ariel dances across the stage.
Another extraordinary vocalist was Sebastian, who integrated his vivacious character into all of his numbers, especially during the vibrant “Under the Sea.” Prince Eric’s voice is smooth as butter and we could listen to him sing all day.
Chef Louis (Katrina Liberman) brought her own ludicrous humor in “Les Poissons.” Liberman demonstrated exceptional vocals and a consistent accent while being fantastically comedic during her big number, chasing Sebastian around amusingly. In contrast to that slapstick humor, Ursula and her two sidekicks, Flotsam and Jetsam (Lauren Hagerty and Gabrielle Martin), brought darker humor. Ursula, played by Maisie Allen also has eight dancers who play Ursula’s tentacles. The group works together well, leaving a chilling vibe on stage.
This bubbling ocean was brought to life by the highly talented Pit Orchestra who performs their own version of the musical The Pittle Mermaid during intermission.
The set and props also brought a whole new level of magic to the show. The detail put into them was astounding, showcased in Ursula’s magic shell, fish instruments, and the Tritons Trident. They brought to life the magic of the story itself.
Filled with color and energy, The Little Mermaid is a sight to behold. Immersing entirely in a show is a rare experience, but Homestead truly has everyone feeling as though they are “Under the Sea!”
Don’t miss this show!! The next performance is tonight at 7pm, Saturday at 7pm and Sunday at 1pm.