THE LITTLE MERMAIDLyrics by Howard Ashman & Glenn Slater
Music by Alan Menken
Book by Doug Wright
Artisan Center Theater
Director – Reid Horton
Music Director – H. Richard Gwozdz
Stage Manager – Breauna Burgess
Asst. Stage Managers – Gloria Warner, Gabriel Anderson
Choreography – Valerie Walker
Set Design – Eric Luckie
Projection Design – Doug Vandergrift
Projection Programming – Natalie Burkhart
Costume Design, Hair & Makeup Design – Michelle Cawood
Prop Design – Amy Luckie
Light/Sound Design – Natalie Burkhart
Cast for reviewed performance:
Ariel: Parker Gerdes
Prince Eric: Sadat Hossain
Sebastian: Sheridan Monroe
Flounder: Macye Armstrong
Scuttle: Henry Cawood
Triton: Mark Scott
Ursula: Sherry Marshall
Flotsam: Lindsey McCallum
Jetsam: Amber Bufkin
Grimsby: Michael Ince
Mersisters, Princesses: Ciara Cimino, Mackenzie Horton, Laura Smolik, Roxi Taylor, Julie Welch, Hannah Wilson
Chef Louis: Kristy Conway
Pilot, Maids, Ensemble: Miley Armstrong, Chloe Clark, Kristy Conway, Danielle Duda, Noah Horton, Reid Horton, Brady Lee, Lillian Rivas, Kimberly Sypert, Ashley Tysor, Grace Wilson
Reviewed Performance: 3/30/2018
Reviewed by Jeri Tellez, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
Horton is an expert at selecting his cast and coaching them to deliver a spot-on performance. His gift for identifying and guiding talent is apparent. Gwozdz was successful in creating a vocally balanced, easy to understand ensemble that was comfortable with the tempos and transitions of the numerous songs.
I can’t say enough about Valerie Walker’s choreography. The duet dance between Ariel and Eric was breathtaking, and every song was full of energy. The opening number of Act Two was truly a show-stopper. I won’t give away any spoilers, but the dancing birds by themselves are worth the price of admission.
As Ariel, Parker Gerdes was just divine. She was a beautiful lovestruck teenager, with a voice to match. Her performance was flawless, including her singing and dancing, her gestures, and her interaction with the other characters.
Sadat Hossain, as Prince Eric, was the quintessential leading man/love interest. His voice was clear and on pitch, and his acting and dancing seemed effortless. This is the second show I have seen him in, and I am quickly becoming a fan of his work.
Sebastian, portrayed by Sheridan Monroe, was a fascinating combination of smug, scatterbrained, critical and compassionate. Monroe’s performance was engaging, his singing was electrifying, and his rendition of Under the Sea was just fabulous.
Macye Armstrong (Flounder) and Henry Cawood (Scuttle) were a delightful pair to the round out the leading cast. Flounder, impetuous and smitten with Ariel, had just the right touch of youthful innocence. Scuttle was adorably confused and clueless, and just couldn’t help but turn his words inside out.
The supporting cast, included Mark Scott (Triton), Sherry Marshall (Ursula), Lindsey McCallum (Flotsam), Amber Bufkin (Jetsam), Michael Ince (Grimsby), and the mersisters Ciara Cimino, Mackenzie Horton, Laura Smolik, Roxi Taylor, Julie Welch, and Hannah Wilson. Each one of them was on point with their delivery, singing, dancing and gestures. I could not identify one sour note, missed dance step, or dropped line.
The ensemble did a fabulous job shifting between characters and navigating their various costume changes. Those costumes, produced by Michelle Cawood and her amazing crew, were just wonderful. It is evident that hours upon hours were spent producing these spectacular creations. The way they handled Ariel’s on-stage transformation at the end of the show was nothing short of genius.
Props, lighting, sound and projections were all well-designed and the perfect fit for the setting. I especially enjoyed the lighting during Ursula’s solos, the props in Ariel’s grotto, and the projections that helped set the scene. My only disappointment was that the sound wasn’t as well balanced as it could have been. The vocals were a bit soft for the soundtrack, but not so much that they were unintelligible.
This production is by far one of the best I have seen, and as near perfect as you can expect for a live performance in a small venue. I highly recommend this family friendly show, and with almost 50 performances, there is bound to be one that fits your schedule. Don’t miss it!
For tickets and information go to http://www.artisanct.com/ or call 817-284-1200.