TO say that Playbox’s production of The Little Mermaid went swimmingly would be an understatement.
The five-day run at Warwick’s Dream Factory was a near sell-out, and deservedly so. The performances were a great example of what youth theatre can be: imaginative, experimental, with fearless and enthusiastic performances from young people bursting with talent.
The musical was faithful to the script, Little Mermaid Jr, which is a condensed version of Disney’s 2008 Broadway production. In a magical underwater kingdom, the beautiful young mermaid, Ariel, a graceful and heartfelt study from Freya Liddell, longs to leave her ocean home — and her fins – behind and live in the world above.
But first she’ll have to defy her father, King Triton (a commanding performance from Charlie Davis), make a deal with the evil sea witch Ursula (Martha Markham is simply stupendous as the baddie, and blessed with powerful blues vocals), and convince the handsome Prince Eric (Cameron Walker, who is more adorable and talented than the whole of One Direction — not kidding!) that she’s the girl whose enchanting voice he’s been seeking.
With a fine supporting cast, including Sebastian, Flounder, Scuttle the seagull, Ariel’s sisters, evil eels and lots of little fishes, and a bunch of great singalong songs (Part of Your World, She’s in Love, and the Oscar-winning Under the Sea), this was certainly a crowd-pleasing show. When I went along there were families and little princesses of all ages, clearly spellbound by the faithful recreation of the fairytale.
The clever staging and lighting really gave the impression of being undersea, adding to the magical feel of the whole show.
Well done to director Juliet Vankay and the rest of the Playbox crew, who continually prove that children’s theatre knows no limits in its ambitions.