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Under the Sea and Over the Top

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Photo courtesy of Hennepin Theatre Trust Press Photos

Photo courtesy of Hennepin Theatre Trust Press Photos

Photo courtesy of Hennepin Theatre Trust Press Photos

Jolie Olson, Freelance Writer

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The Little Mermaid is a Hans Christian Anderson tale of curiosity, romance, vulnerability, and sacrifice. Disney caught it in a large net, released it as a children’s movie, then released it again in 2007 as a Broadway musical. The only problem with catch and release is that the fish can unintentionally lose its life.

     With the stage adaptation of a movie adaptation of an original fairytale, the producers added enough sparkle to cover the Atlantic and Pacific. Special effects ranging from heelys to flying across the stage- this show was showy, and often that gets in the way. In the iconic song Part of Your World, Ariel is having an insightful moment of curiosity and longing and just as I relaxed into the beautiful melody she was hoisted into the air. She remained suspended for the rest of the song and all I could think of was a fish dangling from a fishing line.

     Some of the special effects trickled down into the costumes. Amy Clark and Mark Moss created a colorful costumed world under the sea and saved traditional tones for on land. This worked effectively for Flotsam and Jetsam in their electric green, light up onesies. In addition, the use of flowing blue fabric in the mermaids costumes added to the underwater illusion. One costume that caught me off guard was Triton’s exposed nipples through his mesh top. Mesh shirts should stay in the 80’s.

     In the midst of all the color and sparkle the actors fight to tell the story. Flounder (Adam Garst) does anything but flounder. His characterization and sweet presence are able to shine through all the stage makeup. He better be careful; if Ursula heard him singing his voice might be next. Speaking of the sea witch, Ursula (Jennifer Allen) was great. She had a huge personality and used it to her advantage. Allen worked the audience in any and every spot she could. Ariel (Alison Woods) was the spitting image of the Ariel in the movie. She had the hair, the voice, and the sea shells.  Although I’m not a fan of bright toned voices, I have to hand it to her- she sounded good.

     Just like the chef in Les Poissons, Disney gutted this story, stuffed it, and then mounted it on its trophy wall.  There is no doubt they’ll rake in the clams, but this rendition of The Little Mermaid left me feeling like a fish out of water.

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Under the Sea and Over the Top