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.

Rob Hopper
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
Court Entertainers:
J.J. Gatesman
Zack Gearing
Rosie Keith
Randy Messaoudi
Princess: Lauren Tuvell
Court Ladies & Spirits of the Air:
Kendra Arado
Natasha Lejbman
Caity Rautenstrauch
Court Gentlemen & Sailors:
Devon Halvorson
John Sweeney
Ali Taheri

Director: Toni Molloy-Tudor
Set/Prop Designer: Kris Van Riper
Costume Designer: Victoria Shaffer
Lighting Designer: Gianna Malerba
Stage Manager: Anastasia Wied


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