Thursday night I got the chance to go nerd out with one of my closest friends and see The Little Mermaid at the Fox Theatre here in Atlanta. There’s a level of nostalgia expected when I go to see anything that I loved dearly in my childhood -- and not having seen the play while it was on Broadway -- I was unaware of how they were going to simulate a live action story of something set under the sea. Impressive aerial movements which allowed the actors to “swim” to various parts of the stage paired with beautiful set designs all allowed the viewer to get lost in the world that the play created. Even the actors swayed a bit with every move they made -- or even just when they were just standing still -- in order to create the illusion that they were under sea (which these movements creeped me out a little -- but I did appreciate the attention to detail).
On the music side of things, all the songs you know and love from the Disney film are present -- along with almost as many new songs. The new songs weren’t bad, but they also weren’t really that memorable either. There’s also a few twists to the storyline that pulled me out of my nostalgia. For example, Ursula as King Triton’s sister…. what? Aside from the obvious reasons why I asked that question, I also was intrigued enough to do a little research to see if that had been the case in the film, since I didn’t recall that at all. Fun fact, producer and writer Howard Ashman had originally envisioned Ursula as Triton’s sister for the 1989 film, which would have naturally made the character Ariel’s aunt, but the idea was ultimately abandoned. It’s interesting to me that they revived this idea for the play -- I’m not really sure why as it didn’t add anything to the story for me.
These small elements aside, the performances were all quite stellar -- this cast is incredibly talented. And while the show did entertain and wow with those performances, the set design, the music, and the overall experience -- it didn’t quite live up to Disney’s other plays, namely Beauty and the Beast and Marry Poppins -- even Newsies (one of my all time favorite Disney films -- which I wasn’t thrilled with the onstage version) -- all of these titles seemed to have a grander and more epic feel to them than The Little Mermaid brought to Atlanta. However, that being said. It’s still a great story and worth checking out if you were a fan of Disney’s 1989 film. Grab your girlfriends or your fellow Disney geeks -- and check the play out this weekend at Atlanta’s Fox Theatre! The show departs January 15th, so grab tickets while you still can!
The Little Mermaid Review