Review: Disney’s The Little Mermaid. Music by Alan Menken. Lyrics by Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater. Book by Doug Wright. Produced by The 5th Avenue Theatre. Directed by Glenn Casale. Music Direction by R.J. Tancioco. Choreography by John MacInnis. Flight Choreography by Paul Rubin. Scenic Design by Kenneth Foy. Lighting Design by Charlie Morrison. Costume Design by Amy Clark and Mark Koss. Sound Design by Ed Chapman. Wig & Make-up Design by Kelley Jordan.
Disney’s The Little Mermaid is onstage at The 5th Avenue Theatre from September 8 to October 8, 2023. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased at The 5th Avenue Theatre’s website, over the phone, or by visiting the box office. For more information visit www.5thavenue.org
As good as any Broadway NYC show, our area is blessed with a wealth of gorgeous performers who get to shine now in The Little Mermaid! We then are double-blessed to have Diana Huey return “home” to let us hear her crisp, clean, soaring voice – every bit as good as the first time she starred as Ariel on the 5th Ave stage in 2016. Maybe even better!
Huey broke the mold in 2016 to star in a national tour as the first Asian American performer to star in the show. Rumors had it that there were some ugly adventures in some parts of the country where people somehow could not fathom how a mermaid could be Asian. It was also her biggest role, at that point, carrying a huge Broadway hit show on her shoulders. Now, seasoned by a move to NYC and dozens of performing opportunities, she is sure-finned and in perfect voice to do it again.
The rest of the cast provide great support generally and in key roles. Prince Eric is played by Coleman Cummings, a native to our region who has left for NYC pastures, but has come “home” to show off his pipes and sweet, soulful delivery. The Mersisters are cohesive but also each stands on her own (and Kristin Burch gets to ‘mer’ again as well!). John David Scott gets his tapping on as Scuttle. Cassie Q Kohl and Ethan Carpenter get creepy as Flotsam and Jetsam.
Then there is Shaunyce Omar as Ursula. Of course Shaunyce is Ursula! She is the first actor anyone should think of for that role, with her big belt and sure characterization, all with a glint of fun. She’s had a great year, playing belting roles in Into the Woods and The Wiz, as well. I look forward to seeing her in other, less-stereotyping roles, because she has great range, as well.
The atmosphere of the production is amazing. The colors are vibrant. The set is simple in some ways (walls of watery bubbles, castle backdrop of lush-looking wallpaper), but streamlined and very quick-changing. The costuming is a wonderful swirl of color and swishing fabrics as everyone in the water has to seem to float. Ursula’s squid costume is a marvel of legs, and Sebastian is quite red and clawful.
Huge puppets, like jelly fish and other sea creatures swarm among the ensemble. They make more magic. The “flying sequence choreographer” Paul Rubin helped create the visualization of Ariel and others floating and swimming through deep waters. Little kids will be amazed.
It’s still a kid-show. Let’s be honest. But there is so much to look at, marvel at, and enjoy that parents and grandparents will have a great time with their little ones. This reboot at the 5th Avenue has floated to the top!
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