When you combine Hans Christian Anderson and Disney in a musical setting, you are sure to be in for a treat. With memorable characters such as Ariel and Flounder to excite and entertain us, we are in for an enjoyable and memorable experience. The Little Mermaid has been an all-time favourite for generations and we are lucky enough to have The People’s Playhouse host such a wonderful production here in Melbourne and tell this story.
Mermaid Princess Ariel is fascinated by the world above and the lives of people on dry land. She yearns to be one of them but is forbidden by her father, King Triton. When she falls in love with a human, Prince Eric, she makes a fateful deal with her father’s sister and enemy Ursula and is temporarily transformed into a human and may remain so if she wins the kiss of true love from her prince within three days. The dangerous mission leads to a showdown between good and evil which only love can conquer.
Jess Faulkner, who plays Ariel, has been very excited to perform this role and told us “I love that she is so strong. Nobody is going to tell her what to do. She believes that she is worth more than the life she has been given that she can achieve anything. Plus, who doesn’t want to be a Disney princess every now and then.”
In developing this production, The People’s Playhouse has taken a unique approach to presenting this production, with a few unexpected but quite interesting twists.
As you will discover Ursula the Sea Witch is played by Mr David Postill…yes, that’s right a guy playing this role. That’s a bit odd I hear you say. Well, you just wait until you see him in his element. This production takes a bit more time in developing the wonderful back story of Ursula and how she and Triton were both vying for the throne, which adds a new dynamic and depth to the story. As David told us: “What’s not to love about her. She’s calculating and downright evil. I love playing someone with such an ambiguous moral compass. She believes everything she does is justified.”
The Mersisters are also more prevalent and we get a greater understanding of Grimsby’s commitment to Eric and understand their relationship in far greater depth. They have also added a twist to the character of Flounder which audiences should enjoy.
Joel Norman-Hade and Adam C Nash (directors) explained to us that they decided early on to try and steer away from the visual familiarity of the Disney movie and use the story to generate ideas about how they wanted the show to look to their audience. This reimagined look of this Disney classic is refreshed with a real-to-life look on stage. There is no denying that a Disney musical is big. Like HUGE! Which is probably why they have such universal appeal. Every element, the music, the sets, the dancing, the orchestration, the costumes, the lighting requires nothing less than your best effort.
The People’s Playhouse has certainly put 100% effort into to bringing this story to life on stage. For those of you who don’t know much about the People’s Playhouse, they are an amateur theatre company that is dedicated to giving young people, and those not so young, the opportunity to perform, learn the theatre craft, and backstage skills. They are an excellent preparation ground for those who want to go on to larger theatre companies. As a non-profit company, they see themselves as serving the young people of this community, providing opportunities for a fulfilling experience where great friends can be made.
There is little doubt that The Little Mermaid is one such fantastic opportunity for new and experienced theatre enthusiast to get together and present such an all-time classic. Whether you are a child or a child at heart this musical is one to put in your diaries now. Dive in! Life is the bubbles, under the sea!
Dates: 7th – 15th July 2017
Venue: Cranbourne Community Theatre
**Editor’s Note: audiences are advised that due to illness, the role of Ariel is now being played by Olivia Horne.