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The Little Mermaid musical (spoiler free)!

So last night, Beth and I went with my brother and his wife and a friend of ours and her 10-year-old daughter and saw The Little Mermaid Broadway show (currently in tryouts in Denver, where I am), and it is wonderful! Really, it's pretty great. I think I'll organize my thoughts into two lists, but just remember two things:

  1. The pros and cons may seem equal in list form below, but overall the pros greatly outweighed the cons.
  2. The show isn't anywhere near done yet. The Denver premiere isn't event until Aug. 23. Many of the things (especially cons) I mention may change.

Oh, and don't worry, there are NO SPOILERS (assuming you have seen the movie)!

PROS

  • While the film is greatly expanded, very little is changed. (The biggest change is Ursala's actions during the second act (Ariel on land). But I won't spoil it). Nothing is changed just for the sake of change. Sierra Boggess even sometimes uses the exact same expressions and gestures used in the movie by Ariel -- but she's not being lazy or uncreative, she's doing it because they still work on stage.
  • Sierra Bogges is Ariel. Really, she nails it. Wow!
  • Everyone is in very fine voice.
  • "Kiss the Girl" is a show stopper.
  • Ariel's sisters are lots of fun in their expanded roles. Their song "She's in Love" is maybe the best of the added songs (but I'd have to see it again to be sure).
  • The tap-dancing Scuttle is a great expansion too.

CONS

  • "Under the Sea" is slightly disappointing -- it is not the show stopper it should be.
  • Sebastian's costume is too clownish (although there is a very good reason for the silly hat he wears), and Flounder's costume is too plain.
  • Some of the actors don't quite have the acting down to match the (uniformly good) singing. Norm Lewis (King Triton) is the worst in this.
  • In our performance, something went terribly wrong at the end of the show. The final showdown between Ursula and Ariel & Eric wasn't there! One moment, Triton had just agreed to be Ursula's slave and Ursula is all gloating about having the trident, then she suddenly zips offstage and everyone else starts acting like they won! I suppose that some set piece needed for the final battle wasn't working so it was just skipped, and I'm not mad because I knew it was the third night of previews for the tryout and such things should be expected, but it was still a serious WTF moment.
I could say much more (I could do a whole pros and cons list on the mer costumes), but then I'd be getting into spoiler territory (I assume that some would consider details about how the staging was done to be spoilers). But let me tell you what -- I will answer any questions anyone has in the comments section below, and I will dish spoilers there with abandon.

So remember, spoilers in the comments.

Comments

( 11 Swingers — Comment )
kathrynthegreat
Jul. 30th, 2007 05:53 am (UTC)
I don't mind spoilers - I would REALLY love to know how exactly some things were pulled off - the different tails and swimming, etc. How are fish and things done...is there a lot of puppetry, etc? Essentially, I'd like to know a little more about how special effects were pulled off.

I'd love to hear more about "Kiss The Girl" and why is it a showstopper.
shadzane
Jul. 31st, 2007 07:22 am (UTC)
OK, here I go!

is there a lot of puppetry

No. There is very little puppetry, mainly during "Les Poissons"

I would REALLY love to know how exactly some things were pulled off - the different tails and swimming, etc. How are fish and things done

OK. The first thing you need to know is all undersea creatures* are wearing Heelies, and use them to simulate swimming thru the ocean. They can walk too, and tend to walk for short distances and glide on their heels for long distances.

The merfolk (except for Triton, who seems to still be a work in progress) are all human from the waist up (and not wearing much; the shells for the girls (including Ariel) are relatively small when compared to the padded thing Ariel wears in the Disney parks) and have a mermaid tail protruding back from their butts. Legs (for boys and girls) are hidden in a big green skirt -- so they aren't hidden at all; you can't see them move but you know they are there, and the mermaids look like they are dolls sitting on a pillar.

That's sounds bad, but you quickly get used to it. It helps when the actor remembers to make the tail move when they move, to simulate swimming. Sierra Bogges was very good at this, moving her tail in a gentle sway. Some of her sisters overdid it, moving the tail in too much of a wiggle. Also, the illusion may be better if you are in the orchestra seats, because the 3-4 ft. "waves" that are sometimes on the stage may hide the legs. But from the balcony, the didn't help.

As for other fish, they were mostly represented by dancers in body suits with fishy accessories stuck on. Sometimes an elaborate headpeice shaped like a fish's head helped sell it (like with the seahorses early in the play), and sometimes a less elaborate headpiece meant to look like a fin just made the dancer look more like a Las Vegas showgirl than a fish (like during "Under the Sea").

My verdict: The mermaid costumes are good, but the actors need more practice. The fish costumes are kinda blah.

(If you want to know more about specific characters like Flounder, Sebastian or Ursula, just ask)

OK, I need to go to bed. I will tell you all about "Kiss the Girl" tomorrow...

*except for Sebastian and Ursula, who have legs...
kathrynthegreat
Jul. 31st, 2007 03:38 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much for all of the great details!
thegirlin_14g
Jul. 30th, 2007 08:58 am (UTC)
I agree I would love if you posted a spoiler review!
shadzane
Jul. 31st, 2007 07:23 am (UTC)
I'd rather answer specific questions. Got any?
thegirlin_14g
Aug. 3rd, 2007 03:54 pm (UTC)
In the If only song it says something about Ariel fainting...why?
catchameasisomo
Jul. 30th, 2007 10:06 am (UTC)
Yes! Spoil us please! XD
shadzane
Jul. 31st, 2007 07:25 am (UTC)
Ask me something! (I'm not good at organizing long writings, but answering individual questions as they come is something I'm can do. Which is why my long writings seem to turn into bulleted lists or Q&A format...)
forsakenmermaid
Jul. 31st, 2007 12:08 am (UTC)
Yeah, I have to concur with those above me. I'd also like to know more about the costumes and set! (Also, did it seem like it'd be hard for someone to sneak in a digital camera? :-P *is still waiting for that YouTube video*)
shadzane
Jul. 31st, 2007 07:28 am (UTC)
There are signs posted everywhere about cameras and video recorders. I assume the ushers are keeping their eyes peeled.

P.S. A very long review with more set and costume details has been posted here: http://littlemermaidbroadway.blogspot.com/2007/07/tlm-denver-review-1.html but I'm sure you've seen it already! :-)
forsakenmermaid
Jul. 31st, 2007 09:22 pm (UTC)
Yes I have! :)
( 11 Swingers — Comment )

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