The Little Mermaid

As promised I thought tonight I would give you my review of the three shows I’ve seen in the last two days.   I saw the production of Caryl Churchill’s new play Drunk Enough To Say I Love You.  I’ll tell you about this masterpiece later.

Let’s start with The Little Mermaid.  It has been panned by most of it’s reviews.  The except from the Times review said…

Directed by Francesca Zambello, this “Little Mermaid” burdens its performers with ungainly guess-what-I-am costumes (by Tatiana Noginova) and a distracting set (by George Tsypin) awash in pastels gone sour and unidentifiable giant tchotchkes that suggest a Luau Lounge whipped up by an acid-head heiress in the 1960s. The whole enterprise is soaked in that sparkly garishness that only a very young child — or possibly a tackiness-worshiping drag queen — might find pretty. 

Maybe this is why I liked it.  Perhaps I’m a drag queen waiting to come out.

The show is total fluff.  There’s nothing life changing about it.  You or your 8 year old niece aren’t going to go home and suddenly realize you need to make drastic changes in the way you are living.  But if you let go and just sit back and enjoy it, the show is a lot of fun.  I had three or four beers before the show and this might have helped.

First the performances were amazing.  I don’t believe anyone’s going to win a Tony, but they were across the board entertaining and effective.  Of course the mermaid and her prince just have to be pretty and sing well to do the job.  And they are both beautiful and sing expertly so there you go.  The other characters are equally effective.  Tituss Burgess as Sebastian easily steals the show.  I’ve seen him on stage in a number of productions and he is always good.  He was in a production of The Wiz I saw a year or so ago as the Cowardly Lion and of the performers he’s the only one that was memorable.

As for the rest of the show.  The production values were over the top.  The set was more sculptural than realistic.  It was designed by George Tsypin.  He is more of an opera designer than a “musical” theatre designer.  He has created a world for the play to exist in with a number of toys that I think are designed to impress the audience more than they are to be effective set pieces.  To create the feel of the sea he has hard plastic drops that come up out of the floor to give the illusion of water.  This would actually work if it weren’t for the actors constantly stepping and jumping over them and the need to have them disappear for the dance numbers.  I personally think the show would have been served better if it had been designed by a “theatre” designer.  The costumes were just strange.  The mermaids all had tails and that was fun.  But some of the choices were just out there.  The women of the court in the Prince’s castle all looked like new born chicks.  The friend I was seeing the show leaned over and asked what exactly they were supposed to be.  I still don’t know.  The Prince’s pants were so tight it was clear that he was wearing a dance belt and not underwear.  And I agree with the Times description the two sidekicks of Ursula’s.  They looked like club kids with their light up sleeves and green clothes.  And then there was the lighting.  I always think when it comes to lighting you should sit where the lighting designer sat to get the full effect of the show.  Because often they don’t get to move around so they have no idea what the show looks like from different locations.  I was given free tickets so I had little choice in where I sat.  So I was in the back of the mezzanine.  They were okay seats but a little far away and I had a clear view of the floor.  I only mention this because I could suddenly see exactly how the show was designed.  I could see where each light hit the floor.  I could see how Natasha Katz cues a show.  She used the same trick over and over again.  Not that all lighting designers don’t do that.  But it was very clear.  And I hated seeing this.   I also thought some of the color choices were not so great.  However, her special effects were amazing, and she was responsible for creating a number of the water effects on the stage.

I guess my biggest complaint would have been sound.  As I said I was in the back of the mezzanine and was not getting the full effect of the speaker system.  It also didn’t help that the show was filled with kids eight years old and younger.  So there was a constant murmur that you don’t normally hear in a show.  There were many times I had no idea what was being said because the kids around me were talking.  In a nutshell, it needed to be louder.  At least in the balcony.

But.

At the end of the day the show was fun.  It was light hearted.  It was entertaining.  And I’m glad I saw it.  I might have liked it less if I had spent 110.00 dollars on tickets.  But for a free show and compared to the other two shows I need to review this show was wonderful.

Here’s a little clip from the show.

The Little Mermaid -A Broadway Musical-

Now, since it’s 4:30 and this post is so long.  I’ll review Gypsy for you tomorrow night.

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2 thoughts on “The Little Mermaid

  1. Lemuel March 14, 2008 / 06:40

    One of the biggest “drawbacks” to being a professional is observing the work of another professional in the same area. I know I do it in my own fields. 🙂 I can imagine that your attention is drawn immediately to the lighting when you see a play.

    Thanks for the review and for the clip!

  2. Donnie March 15, 2008 / 14:04

    What a great review and clip. The Little Mermaid is one of my favorite Disney movie musicals (besides Pete’s Dragon…but I date myself with that reference).

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