The Little Mermaid is a fairy tale written by author Hans Christian Andersen, about a young mermaid who gives up her life under the sea to join the human world, for the love of a handsome prince and the chance to dance upon the shore. The tale was later adapted into the well-known animated Disney classic written by Ron Clements and John Musker, with music by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman. This timeless story, with beautiful songs that accompany it, have long been loved and celebrated by people of all ages.
Windmill Theatre Company’s production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid has just begun its run at the Drum Theatre, Dandenong in Melbourne’s south-east, and is truly a wonderful and captivating show that is not to be missed!
From the opening acrobatics, straight into the lovely tune ‘The World Above’, it is clear that Windmill Theatre Company have crafted what is a vibrant production of high quality. The casting choices are excellent and in fine form right from the first note. Stephanie James absolutely delivers in her portrayal of Ariel, giving the character a sense of wonder and an innocence that is so essential in the world of Disney princesses. Watching James belt out ‘Part Of Your World’ is both stunning and awe-inspiring. Blake Testro is able to capture the essence and charm of Prince Eric, while Maverick De Leon had the audience in stitches in his funny portrayal of Sebastian. De Leon really shows his comedic and vocal ability in the fan favourite ‘Kiss The Girl’. Both Natasha Bassett who plays the sea-witch Ursula, and Augie Tchantcho who reigns as King Triton are captivating in their power, and both are able to take full command of the stage. The rest of the casting is superb, from the supporting cast through to the ensemble, who all display fantastic skills in both vocals and dance.
Costume designer Jacqui Day must be commended for the work she’s done for this production. What she’s created has brought a colour and life to the wonderful array of creatures that live under the sea. Especially unique and astounding is Ursula’s costume, designed by Tyler Hess. Day, Hess and the team are to be congratulated for their creativity.
The sets for this show are great, and carry a detail about them that stand out, no matter where you’re sitting in the theatre. Especially impressive is the use of projections, which are used perfectly to create settings and bridge the story from chapter to chapter. The scale and size of the sets caused moments when scene changes felt a bit too long, and not as seamless in parts as could have been. That being said, the lighting compliments the sets quite well, and is used effectively to create and enhance the mood and the flow of the story.
The sound for this show is clear, crisp and well-balanced. Sound designer Steve Cooke and his team use sound effects excellently, and the orchestra, led by Anthony Barnhill sound fantastic and well mixed in conjunction with the vocals of the cast. The wonderful instrumentation enhances each character’s vocal performance and matches the mood of the scene. Despite a moment or two where cast mics weren’t working, a small technical glitch is minor in comparison to an overall great sounding performance.
Direction and choreography shine in this production, as character interaction is well paced and heartfelt. The dance numbers are big, vibrant and delightful. Notably great is the dancing featured in the numbers ‘Les Poissons’ and crowd favourite ‘Under The Sea’, which features the use of acrobatics, and showcases the colourful array of costumes all too well.
Overall, Windmill’s The Little Mermaid is a wonderful and astounding production that is fun and enjoyable for the whole family. What Windmill have done is create a large scale production for the community theatre stage, and managed to succeed in showcasing feelings of vividness and intimacy, transitioning well between both. People of all ages will be captivated throughout, and will go home delighted and humming the tunes from this lovely telling of the Disney Classic. Don’t miss your chance to catch this highly entertaining show!