Disney’s The Little Mermaid On Stage at Roger Rocka’s

Jul 19, 2023 | 2023 Articles, Terrance V. Mc Arthur, Theatre

by Terrance Mc Arthur

Bring your scuba gear to Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theater and go “Under the Sea” to see the Good Company Players’ rollicking production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid.

If you have a child, you have probably seen the animated movie more times than you want to count, and probably know every plot point, but there are differences in the stage version—added songs, added dialogue, added fun. The 1989 animated Disney film got the Broadway treatment, opening in 2008, with additional songs written by Alan Mencken (the original film composer) and Glenn Slater (continuing the lyrics work of the late Howard Ashman), and script adaptation by Doug Wright.

Cast of GCP’s production of “The Little Mermaid”

Young mermaid Ariel (Kaitlin Dean), daughter of King Triton (Greg Ruud), is obsessed with the surface of the sea and the people who live above it. She rescues Prince Eric (Ethan Marsh) from a shipwreck, and he falls in love with her voice, not knowing she’s of the mer-folk. To get her prince, Ariel buys legs from Ursula, the Sea Witch (Abigail Nolte) at the price of her voice. How will she win the prince when she can’t talk or sing? Since this is the Disney version, everything ends up all right. (Hans Christian Anderson’s original fairy tale ended with the mermaid being told to kill the prince, who has married another woman, to turn back into a mermaid. She refuses to kill, jumps into the sea, and is turned into sea foam that is lifted up as a Daughter of the Air to do good deeds and gain a soul. Different, isn’t it?)

Kaitlin Dean danced and sang up a storm in Singin’ in the Rain, and now she gets to glide on skates as Ariel. Her singing voice is worthy of the praise the character receives from others in the story. She is cheerful, hopeful, winning, and winsome.

Cast of GCP’s production of “The Little Mermaid”

Marsh is a recent addition to the GCP stable, and he makes a strong impression as Prince Erik. Handsome as a prince should be, he has songs added to the adaptation that show off his talents.

Nolte’s Ursula the Sea Witch is vain, venal, and vengeful, a powerful force of bad nature. It’s a pleasure to see her wave her tentacles.

Ruud returns as King Triton, wise but puzzled by Ariel’s fascination with the world above the waves, a world he knows is filled with danger for mer-folk.

Cast of GCP’s production of “The Little Mermaid”

Zachary Kelley is a treat as the goofy seagull Scuttle, spouting malapropisms and squawking into the audience’s hearts. Minh-Tri Hoang is wide-eyed innocence with a touch of “guppy-love” for Ariel. He’s a spritely young performer who is growing up on the GCP stages.

Michael Fidalgo’s costume combines lobster features with Cockney Pearly style and a Caribbean accent. His battles with Chef Louis (Jeremy Marks) are comic highlights.

Roger Christensen, another returnee from the 2016 GCP production, entertains as Grimsby, Prince Eric’s advisor and guardian. He gets to be seasick, amused by Ariel’s attempts to fit in on land, and awed by learning that mythic creatures might be real.

Adrian Amsso and Christopher Hoffman shine as Flotsam and Jetsam, Ursula’s electric-eel henchmen. Their glowing make-up and flashing-light mohawk hair are attention-getters.

Cast of GCP’s production of “The Little Mermaid”

The other daughters of Triton (Ariana Morris, Megan Gaertig, Maisie Van Fleet, Dee Chinn, Seren Lake, Ashley McGuire) are a lovely assortment of sea-girls. As sea-gulls, Jenna Erickson, Mia Moore, Evie Van Fleet, and Maisie (in another costume) strut their stuff in the “Positoovity” number.

Dan Pessano directs with his usual mastery of the stage. Jessica Sarkesian’s choreography sets the stage aswirl in a whirling variety of sea-life, aided by Ginger Kay Lewis-Reed’s clever costumes. Judith Dickison coaxes beautiful harmonies as vocal coach, and David Pierce’s sets take you under the sea and into a castle.

The Jr. Company pre-show celebrates Ariel’s longing for legs and feet with songs about “Dancing”, from ABBA to Wham!, with stops for Madonna, Fred Astaire, and the Isley Brothers/Beatles.

Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theater is at 1226 N. Wishon Ave. at Olive Ave. For tickets and further information, go to www.gcplayers.com, or call (559) 266-9494. This production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid is a show to dive into. Bring the kids. (Some of the joys of the show were watching wide-eyed little girls in Disney Princess attire seeing their favorite characters come to life.)

If you love local theatre, be sure to check out Mysteryrat’s Maze Podcast, which features mysteries read by local actors. You can find the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, and also on podbean.

Check out more theatre reviews & other local entertainment articles in our Arts & Entertainment section. You can also find more theatre coming up on KRL’s Local Theatre event page.

Terrance V. Mc Arthur worked for the Fresno County Public Library for three decades. He is retired, but not retiring. A storyteller, puppeteer, writer, actor, magician, basketmaker, and all-around interesting person, his goal is to make life more unusual for everyone he meets.


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