Disney's The Little Mermaid
by The Coastal Academy
We all know the classic story of The Little Mermaid, written by Hans Christian Andersen, about a mermaid who longs to live on land. When she saves Prince Eric from a terrible storm at sea, she falls in love and trades her beautiful voice for a pair of human legs. Disney's The Little Mermaid, Jr. is a shorter version of the Broadway adaptation based on Disney's animated film with the music of Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater, and book by Doug Wright.
Director Monica Loebel-Ward is in her 10th year at the Coastal Academy as director and music teacher. She and longtime Assistant Director/Choreographer Ingrid Thomson have groomed their 4th through 8th grade performers into some wonderful young artists. It was a wonderful time spent under the sea with Coastal Academy's Disney's The Little Mermaid, Jr.
In this production our Ariel, Sebastian, Grimsby, and Ursula are double cast, as well as Flotsam and Jetsam. I found both Ariels enjoyable to watch. Ali Rohrbaug is the face of a Disney Princess and her Ariel was expressive in her interpretation of "Part of Your World." Shelby Sanborn played up the rebellious daughter of King Triton (Peter Batcheller). She was also very expressive, and her vocal intonation and tone were pleasant.
Newcomers to the stage are Peter Batcheller as King Triton and Devon Pedroza as Prince Eric. The ability of an 8th grader to play a paternal role with such dignity and poise for a first timer is truly impressive. And Mr. Pedroza (also in eight grade) has a natural confidence about him on stage and his Prince Eric was warm and showed genuine concern for Ariel.
The evil sea witch Ursula was portrayed by Grace Davis and Claire Andolina. Each actress brings her own personal strengths to the stage, and they are both fun to watch alongside their sidekicks, Flotsam and Jetsam (Zach James, Salima Gangani, Bradley Polancic, and Claudia Scott). Miss Davis looked as though she walked right out of the animated movie and Miss Andolina strutted the stage with confidence and ease. Both Ursulas gave a solid performance in "Poor Unfortunate Souls." Zach James and Bradley Polancic were great sidekicks to Grace Davis' Ursula. The two were a cross between punk rockers from the zombie apocalypse. Salima Gangani and Claudia Scott moved and sang harmoniously with Ursula, Claire Andolina.
The Little Mermaid, Jr. offers many parts for actors to shine. Taylor Rivas and Spencer Crosby played the testy and funny Sebastian. Miss Rivas sold the Jamaican accent and Mr. Crosby was charismatic in "Under the Sea." Ariel's trusted friend, Flounder, was played by Brooke Brierley, while Riley Troyer and John Parsons played our faithful Grimsby.
Of course, we must not forget the Mersisters: Geneva Lindsley (Allana), Maddi Stennett (Andrina), Cate Stennett (Atina), Kehaulani Lynch (Adella), Gabby Schanzenbach (Arita) and Kennedy Perry (Aquata). All were perfect for "Daughters of Triton." James Farner was an amusing Chef Luis and sang a fun, "Les Poissons," Nevaeh Imel portrayed a very animated Scuttle. One of my memorable moments of her is when her face contorted in pure wonder and disgust whenever Ariel mentioned that Prince Eric was handsome. It always warranted a chuckle. Sierra Okamura (Gull 1), Cara Pelling (Gull 2), and Caleb Schanzenbach (Gull 3) were just as funny and spirited in "Human Stuff."
Margaret Lindsley and Jennifer Pelling's sumptuous costume designs were stunning and enhanced the show. The lighting and set design also added to the quality of the show. It is hard to believe that this was a middle school production performed by such young performers, and the overall production was simply marvelous.
Performed April 10 - 12, 2014
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Producer: The Coastal Academy
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