by Terrance Mc Arthur
Look out, Jacques Cousteau! Disney’s The Little Mermaid is back in the Valley, this time in CenterStage Clovis Community Theatre’s production at the Mercedes Edwards Theatre through August 4.
If you have children and a DVD player, you know the story. Young mermaid Ariel (Lorraine Christiansen), daughter of King Triton (Christopher Livermore), is obsessed with the surface of the sea and the people who live above it. She rescues Prince Eric (Caleb Harbin) from a shipwreck, and he falls in love with her voice, not knowing she’s of the merfolk. To get her prince, Ariel buys legs from Ursula, the Sea Witch (Kari Mason) 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. The original Hans Christian Andersen tale didn’t have a child-affirming ending, which is why the show isn’t called H. C. Andersen’s The Little Mermaid.
Christiansen is perky, coy, and lively, with a great voice and a costume that is more than the usual leg-covering scales. The costumes by Heather Randall and Patty Karsevar (I will mention them several times. It isn’t every day when you leave the theatre trying to figure out a way to hum the costumes) float up into a twisty tail that gives the mermaid daughters of Triton a gliding buoyancy emphasized by the wheeled shoes that zip them across the stage. There’s a lot to look at in the costumes—you can even find Nemo, all grown up….and I love those light-up jellyfish.
Harbin is a rugged Disney Prince, vocalizing with the best of them (I’ll probably mention the terrific singing a lot, and I’m sure that the vocal director, Judith Dickison, deserves credit). His advisor, Grimsby, played by Brett Hedrick, is an affably strict follower of the rules, whose antics provide goodly laughter.
Christian David is a most excellent crab as Sebastian, Ariel’s unwilling guardian. He struts, he preens, and he delivers double take after double take. He commands the stage with his smooth voice, clad in a red suit that resembles a Bob Fosse dancer with a full-body sunburn. Livermore is imperial as the king of the merfolk, wielding an unusual trident of driftwood and wreckage.
Mason ooooozes along the stage like an oily tsunami, flailing her tentacles in glee. Powerful and malevolent, repellant and riveting, she is constantly circled by her eel-like Flotsam and Jetsam (Michael Judge Ferrer and Jacob Rios), two menacing meanies that the kids just love.
In this production, Flounder is a tween girl (Juliana Richards), skirted like a 50s’ carhop. Cute as a button, she provides excellent support for Ariel. Will Gotten as Scuttle is screechy (What do you expect from a seagull?), and cheerfully mangles words, leading his chorus gulls in a raucous celebration of “Positoovity.” Cameron Barger is stalwart as the ship captain, and totally unhinged as the fish-chopping chef who seeks to glorify the crab…with a butter sauce.
Scott Hancock fills the stage with his actors, bringing the production safely into port with out wrecking on the rocks or running aground, and Kris Cadieux’s set designs create underwater environments, sailing ships, and elegant castles, all based on a simple frame of levels.
It’s Disneylicious, folks!
The Mercedes Edwards Theatre is at 902 5th St in Clovis, CA. For tickets and more information go to www.centerstageclovis.com or call (559) 323-8744. Student rush pricing of $15, 30 minutes before curtain.
If you love local theatre, be sure to check out our new Mysteryrat’s Maze Podcast, which features mysteries read by local actors. The first 2 episodes are now up! You can check the podcast out on iTunes and Google Play, and also on podbean.
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