Most people are familiar with the happily-ever-after,
Disney-fied version of this Hans Christian Andersen tale, but the original
tragic tale is rarely seen. But now is your chance to see it at the Rainbow
Company in Las Vegas who is putting on a good, non-musical production of the
tale as adapted by Pat Hale, which is filled with bits of comedy, though with a
dark foreboding always lurking in the background.
The show’s success has much to do with lead actress Christine
Moore, a great talent who can be a physical comedian with her body language
and facial expressions (her fascination with her toes and learning to walk is a
hoot), but she can just as naturally turn the tone to heartbreaking despair
without a word. Which is a good thing, as the only way she can turn her fins to
legs and get a chance to marry the human Prince is to sacrifice her voice to
the Witch of the Cauldron. Though before doing that, we do get some glimpses of
that voice, for it is her short song that she sings before the Prince’s ship
sinks that initially draws him to her. Christine sings it beautifully with a
sweet, haunting style.
Generating most of the humor in the show is Gabriel De
Chiara as the “Dancing Master” and his band of goofy Court Entertainers.
They lighten the mood considerably, especially as they put on a show for the
kingdom featuring their remarkable new (and silent) dancer whom they don’t know
used to be a mermaid. Her cajoling of a reluctant bear (played by the Dancing
Master in disguise) into dancing with her is a riot.
Adults play the two matriarchs of the ocean – Gloria
Hoffman as the worried Grandmother to the Mermaids whose sad wisdom seems
to sense some tragedy is near, and Mary Alice Brunod-Burack as the
sinister Witch of the Cauldron who delights in teasing the mermaid like a cat
with a mouse. J.P. Kentros is a charming and sensitive Prince. Ashley
Sunstrum, Kitty Slaughter, Chelsee Bergen, and Delancey
Prince play the mermaid’s sisters who can be both enthusiastic and scolding
as their sister swims after her dreams.
Director Toni Molloy-Tudor keeps the story and
the emotions always on the move. Costume Designer Victoria Shaffer’s
creations are blindingly colorful. Kris Van Riper’s set is dominated by
the ship that is central to the main scenes between the Little Mermaid and the
Prince, and by the easily recognizable rock jutting out from the sea where the
Little Mermaid found her destiny.
Performs through June 11, 2006.
National Youth Theatre
~ Cast ~
The Little Mermaid: Christine Moore
~ Mermaid Sisters ~
Helga: Ashley Sunstrum
Katrina: Kitty Slaughter
Katya: Chelsee Bergen
Melinda: Delancey Prince
Grandmother to the Mermaids: Gloria Hoffman
Witch of the Cauldron: Mary Alice Brunod-Burack
Prince: J. P. Kentros
Dancing Master: Gabriel De Chiara
Princess: Lauren Tuvell
Court Ladies & Spirits of the Air:
Court Gentlemen & Sailors:
Director: Toni Molloy-Tudor
Set/Prop Designer: Kris Van Riper
Costume Designer: Victoria Shaffer
Lighting Designer: Gianna Malerba
Stage Manager: Anastasia Wied