Fiddlehead Theatre's current musical at the Strand Theatre is Disney's "The Little Mermaid" based on the Danish fairy tale by Hans Christian Anderson. It is also based on the 1989 Disney movie "The Little Mermaid." The Broadway adaptation opened on January 10, 2008. It tells the story of Ariel, a beautiful mermaid who dreams about becoming human after rescuing a handsome prince from drowning. This goes against her father, King Triton and his adviser, Sebastian's warnings that contact between humans and merpeople is strictly forbidden. To become human, she enlists the aid of the seawitch, Ursula who decrees she must kiss the prince in three days or Ariel's beautiful voice will be Ursula's forever. The audience sits on the edge of their seats to see whether true love can overcome all obstacles placed in the way? Director Stacey Stephens picks the best performers for these roles while choreographer Kira Cowan-Troilo creates inventive dances for them to perform. Musical director Charles Peltz taught the cast the melodic songs and leads a fantastic twenty one piece orchestra. Their combined expertise garners them a standing ovation at the close of the show.
Leading this cast is Jesse Lynne Hart as Ariel. She captures this vibrant character excellently. Jesse's fabulous voice is heard in "The World Above", "Part of Your World' and "Beyond My Wildest Dreams." The most intricate and melodic number in this show is the quartet number "If Only" sung with Prince Eric, Triton and Sebastian. Stacey stages this quartet perfectly where you can see all of them while singing in counterpoint. She is magnificent in this role. Tall, dark and handsome Jared Troilo plays Prince Eric who captures Ariel's heart. He shines in this role. Jared's rich and powerful baritone voice soars in "Fathoms Below", "Her Voice" and "One Step Closer." His acting is superb, too. I last reviewed Jared as Freddy in "My Fair Lady" at Lyric Stage back in September. Jared and Jesse have a lot of chemistry together, making the audience root for a happy ending. However in real life, choreographer Kira captured Jared's heart, marrying each other recently!
Shana Dirik is phenomenal as Ursula. She is a triple threat performer and commands the stage in this role. Shana is a hoot as this demonic woman, dripping sarcasm and evilness from every pore in her body. She is reminiscent of an Ethel Merman that can act perfectly, too. Her magnificent voice stops the show with "Poor Unfortunate Souls" at the end of Act 1. Shana also sings "Daddy's Little Angel" about how she killed the rest of her six sisters. The "Sweet Child" song is done by her two henchmen Flotsam and Jetsam well played by Chris Pitman and Carle-Michael Ogle. Another commanding presence is Andrew Giordano as King Triton. He delivers a strong performance as the worried and concerned father while scolding Ariel and later on defending her from Ursula. Andrew moves the audience to tears with his touching rendition of "If Only" three separate times. He also sings "The World Above.'' The other scene stealing performer is Jay Kelley as Sebastian. He is another triple threat performer and he mesmerizes the audience with his "Under the Sea." This colorful and energetic dance is fantastic. Jay also sings "Kiss the Girl" in Act 2 to try to save Ariel from Ursula and to reunite the happy young lovers at last.
Two of the most comical numbers in the show are "Positoovity" sung by Scuttle and "Les Poissons" sung by Chef Louis. Both numbers turn into wild and crazy dances that stop the show with the brilliant execution of the cast. Eddy Cavazos shines as Scuttle with his hilarious one liners and malapropisms. He and his four seagulls do a superb tap dance to this song. Andy Papas is terrific as Chef Louis complete with French accent and strong tenor voice. Scott Caron as Flounder steals the scene while singing and dancing with Ariel's sisters in "She's in Love" which is a 1950's rock number. He is endearing as one of Ariel's admirers from afar. His entrance with a red page boy wig style hairdo is very funny, too. Ray O'Hare also steals many a scene as the comic relief as Grimsby and he also sings "Fathoms Below" with the sailors and "The Contest" with girls trying to win Eric's hand in marriage. So for a fabulous trip back to one of Disney's topnotch musicals, be sure to catch "The Little Mermaid" by Fiddlehead Theatre. Producer Meg Fofonoff spares no expense with her colorful sets by New England Scenic the gorgeous multitude of colorful costumes by Stacey Stephens. Fiddlehead's next musical will be "Rent" in February at Hancock Hall in Boston. Run do not walk to the box office before this show sells out. Tell them Tony sent you!