Presented by Pelican Productions
Reviewed 25 April 2014
The Little Mermaid Jr is a shortened stage version for young performers of the Broadway production of Disney’s 1989 animated film. The film, in turn, was based on, but bares very little resemblance to, Hans Christian Andersen classic children’s story.
The programme for this production states that this is Pelican Productions co-founders, Jen Frith and Kylie Green’s directorial debut – and it’s a very impressive one. This is a swimmingly good production carried off almost flawlessly.
Production standards are extremely high, with Frith and Green’s imaginations and creativeness working on over-drive: especially with all ‘sea creatures’ being equipped with ‘skate shoes’ (shoes with retractable wheels), causing them to glide effortlessly around the stage and from one scene to another. Mark Stefanoff’s classy Broadway style choreography utilises this footwear very cleverly.
Musical Director, Rosanne Hosking makes sure her cast enunciate Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater’s quirky lyrics clearly (something not always heard in adult musicals, mores the pity). This clarity is also due in no small way to Sound Engineer, Jamie Mensforth. Frith and Green also manage to achieve the usually impossible task of getting a young teenage boy to kiss onstage – Bravo, Ladies!
Frith, Martin Howard and Brad Sax provide a highly atmospheric lighting design which is complemented well by Green’s projection and the very effective sets designed by Frith, Green and Tanya Gallery. It is the stunning costumes designed by Frith, Green and Gallery, and co-ordinated and constructed by no less than thirty one talented and obviously hard working ladies that steal the production side of this show however. The great Florenz Ziegfeld would have, more than likely, killed to have the Sea Hag outfit alone – replete with more than 350 metres of fishing line and shiny purple tentacles.
There are two alternating casts based on age groups. The older, ‘senior’ cast of this performance all demonstrate energy, enthusiasm and talent and are all worthy of being on stage. But there are notable stand-outs: Billie Turner gives a great cameo as French Chef Louis; Alice Jervis is delightful as Scuttle the Seagull, as is Amy Gallery as Flounder; while Jordan Tomljenovic gives vitality to the already jiving song Under the Sea, and his Jamaican accent ain’t half bad either, mon! As King Triton, Isaac Bate shows a remarkable maturity in his demeanour and speaking voice; and Jack Conroy is ideal as Prince Eric, with a voice, humbleness and good looks that will win all females over immediately.
However, it is Tiana Catalano who sparkles and manages to even outshine the glorious costumes with her talent as the central mermaid, Ariel, especially with her skilful rendition of Part Of Your World.
This production of The Little Mermaid Jr is ideal fodder to end the school holidays. Just ask the two tiny tots who were bopping away to the reprise of Under the Sea at the end of the performance – high praise indeed!
Reviewed by Brian Godfrey
Venue: Walford College Theatre, 316 Unley Road, Hyde Park
Season: 24 – 27 April 2014
Duration: 1 hour 10 mins
Tickets: $25.00 – $30.00 Family ticket $100 (2 Adults, 2 Children 12 years and under)