by BRANDI ORTIZ/News Editor
Everything will always be better, down where it is wetter.
For two weekends in February, Lubbock Moonlight Musicals recreated the 1989 hit, “The Little Mermaid,” at the Lubbock Civic Center. Filled with laughter, love, and music, Moonlight Musicals took the audience under the sea, and absolutely smashed it with their rendition.
Lubbock Moonlight Musicals really engulfed the audience in the scene by opening with a beautiful mash-up of the movie’s hit songs, conducted by David Cho of the Lubbock Symphony Orchestra. With the lights dimming and the silhouette of Ariel shining bright on the backdrop, the musical was already off to a great start.
Unlike the movie, the production begins at the water’s surface with Ariel and Flounder, played by Crystal Sharadin and Jeron Robinson, respectively, discussing her findings from the wrecked ship with Scuttle, played by David Patrick Hogan. While at the surface, a boat, quite a big one for such a stage, pulls up with none other than Prince Eric, played by Nathan Rhoden, and his fellow sailors.
Finally realizing that her musical debut was today, Ariel and Flounder hurry home, only to find a very angry King Triton, taken on by Dix Colby Densley. After discussing her punishment for missing such an event, which was a bit odd for her sisters were riding around on what appeared as a scooter covered in corals, she is banished from ever swimming up to the surface.
It was not until the third scene that the audience meets the sea witch, Ursula. Played by Ann Marie Nichols, she begins planning her attack on the youngest daughter of Triton. Though this was in the original movie, this particular scene was the first of many to use new music.
The next scene was one of my favorites. Taking place in Ariel’s secret tunnel filled with her “collection,” the crowd gets to hear the infamous “Part of Your World.” With this being such a well-known song, I was a bit worried for the actor, not knowing if she was OK under such pressure. But Sheradin absolutely owned the song. Hitting every note with confidence, I am positive she won the audition with that song.
The next couple of scenes were “filler” scenes. They included small conversations between the Mersisters and the occasional appearance of Sebastian, who is taken on by Francisco “Frank” Rendon. Also, the audience was given another taste of new music directed by Anh Van Vu.
After King Triton found and destroyed Ariel’s grotto, the stage was set to Ursula’s Lair. Guided by the sea witch’s henchmen, Flotsam and Jetsam, the audience got to really take in the appearance of Ursula. Dressed in a black ball gown with tentacles attached, Nichols pulled off the whole look, staying as true to the movie as possible. After this scene, the audience is released to intermission with the sounds of the orchestra playing in the background.
Once the show returned, a new scene with new music welcomed the audience. It featured Scuttle being the lead, as he and his fellow seagulls sang a song about “Positoovity.” It was followed by scenes of King Triton and his daughters discussing Ariel’s unusual behavior.
The story continues with the audience taken to the palace kitchen, where Chef Louis, played by Joey Castorena, proudly cooks Les Poisson. Ending the scene with a comedic chase between Chef Louis and Sebastian, the audience was taken from the kitchen to the banquet hall.
After director Gerald Dolter presented yet another new scene, it is shown how Prince Eric teaches Ariel how to dance. He tells her that even though she does not talk much, she can always express herself through music and the language of dance. This too was one of my favorite scenes, because the audience finally gets to really embrace Prince Eric’s voice and bask in how handsome he is.
Staying true to the movie, the crowd is taken to the bay where Prince Eric and Ariel shared their “almost kiss.” With Sebastian leading the musical group of aquatic animals, “Kiss the Girl” is played in the background while Ariel and the Prince quickly fall in love.
While the audience is falling in love with their love story, Prince Eric is determined to find the girl who saved him. Hosting a contest in the palace’s ballroom, Prince Eric and Grimsby brought in six princesses from all over to sing. Not finding who he is looking for, Ariel decides to also show up at the audition. Since she cannot sing, due to her contract with Ursula, Ariel begins to dance. The dance that her and Eric shared in the ballroom becomes her audition piece, and I cannot express how cute this was! I believe I heard a unison “Aw” come from the audience.
Though the musical stayed true to the original movie as much as it could, the ending is an interesting twist. In the movie, Ariel and her friends crash what would be Prince Eric and Ursula’s wedding. Instead, Ursula sends Flotsam and Jetsam to bring Ariel to her. When brought down, Ursula quickly explains how the contract is up. Right before the sea witch can take up her end of the bargain and permanently steal away Ariel, King Triton comes and fights off Ursula.
After what seemed to be the quickest fight in history, King Triton decides that Ariel deserves to be with the love of her life, Prince Eric. The King then turns Ariel back into a human so she may marry the Prince.
Lubbock Moonlight Musicals did a good job of recreating such an animated movie. From costumes to set designs, the whole play was filled with color and amazing music. It was a great family production, which I am sure will come back again!