The third show of Theatre by the Sea's 82nd season is Disney's "The Little Mermaid" based on the Danish fairy tale by Hans Christian Anderson. It's also based on the 1989 Disney movie "The Little Mermaid." 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 waiting to see if true love can overcome all obstacles in the way? The Broadway adaptation opened in January 10, 2008. Director/choreographer Billy Sprague Jr. picks the best performers to fill these roles and creates inventive dances for them to perform. Musical director Esther Zabinski taught the cast the melodic songs and leads a topnotch seven piece orchestra. One of the highlights of the show is the special effects and high flying characters. Another highlight is the fabulous beautiful sets by Nathan Bertone who is only 21 years old and is a senior at Boston Conservatory. Their combined expertise wins them a spontaneous standing ovation at the close of the show. This musical captures the hearts of audiences of all ages.
Leading this cast is the beautiful blonde Adrienne Eller as Ariel. She captures this vibrant character excellently. Adrienne's beautiful voice is heard in "The World Above", "Part of Your World" and in "Beyond My Wildest Dreams". The most intricate and melodic number in this show is the quartet song "If Only" sung with Prince Eric, Triton and Sebastian. She is brilliant in this role. Tall, dark and handsome Austin Colby plays Prince Eric who captures Ariel's heart. He shines in this role. Austin's strong baritone voice sells "Fathoms Below", "One Voice" and "One Step Closer". His acting is fantastic, too. He and Adrienne have a lot of chemistry together, making the audience root for a happy ending.
Keisha Gilles is very funny as Ursula. She is a hoot as this malevolent character. Keisha's voice entertains the crowd in "Poor Unfortunate Souls" at the end of the first act. She also sings "Sweet Child" with Robert Conte as Flotsam and Daniel Hurst as Jetsam, her two henchmen. They slither on and off stage and display their strong voices with Keisha. Another commanding presence in the show is Joseph Torello as King Triton. He delivers a multilayered performance as this worried parent while scolding Ariel and later on defending her from Ursula. Joseph moves the audience to tears in his tender rendition of "If Only" three separate times and he also sings "The World Above". Another comic performer is Nkrumah Gatling as Sebastian. His "Under the Sea" number mesmerizes the audience. The colorful and awe inspiring dance is magnificent. Nkrumah also sings "Kiss the Girl", a calypso style number in the second act, trying to save Ariel from Ursula and reunite the happy couple at last.
The two most comical numbers in the show are "Positoovity sung by Scuttle and "Les Poissons" sung by Chef Louis. They turn into wild and crazy dance numbers that stop the show with the cast's brilliant execution. Zachary Berger shines as Scuttle with his many funny one liners. AJ Hunsacker is brilliant as Chef Louis winning many laughs and displaying a terrific tenor voice while doing so. Andrew Holder as Flounder steals the scene while singing with Ariel's sisters in the 1950's number "She's in Love". He enters on his skateboard and has a mohawk hair style. Andrew is endearing as one of Ariel's greatest admirers from afar. It's great to see Andrew doing well in theater, having first reviewed him as a student at Narragansett High School in Anything Goes back in 2003. Tom Roberts as Grimsby sings "Fathoms Below" displaying his voice and does well as the comic relief throughout the show. So for a fabulous trip back to one of Disney's topnotch musicals, be sure to catch "The Little Mermaid'' at Theatre by the Sea. Bill Hanney and his cast and crew continue to bring quality theatre to RI every summer. The costumes by Kurt Alger are also breathtakingly gorgeous,too. Kudos to one and all who make this one of the must see shows of the summer season. Bill announced the 83rd season shows, "The Buddy Holly Story", "West Side Story", "Wizard of Oz" and "Sister Act.