Windsor Light Music Theatre’s production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid at The Chrysler Theatre in Windsor, Ontario opened on November 13, 2015. I attended the November 15, 2015 matinee show.
The adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s story of a teenage mermaid that falls in love with the surface world and the human Price Eric stars Amber Thibert in the eponymous role of The Little Mermaid, Ariel. Aaron Bergeron-Grundy stars as the ocean loving object of Ariel’s affection, Prince Eric. Kristen Siapas stars as Ursula the Sea Witch, sister of King Tritan, bent revenge of the brother she saw as standing in the way of her rightful title. Owen Thomas stars as Sebastian the Crab charged with the musical education of King Triton’s mermaid daughters.
Comedian Larry Wilmore said in a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly that he only cries at the end of Broadway shows. He doesn’t cry because of the emotional weight of the show but because the experience was so good that he’s deeply saddened that it ended. I am not ashamed to admit that this attendee had moisture streaming down her face at the end of Sunday’s show. I have seen Paul Stanley (of KISS fame) in the title roll in Phantom of the Opera and Colm Wilkinson as Jean Val Jean in Les Miserables. The acting prowess and vocal power of the local cast of Windsor Light’s production is a match for any of the well known and renowned productions of my somewhat limited experience. Amber Thibert’s vocal purity as Ariel is awe inspiring. Theatre goers could not be faulted for mistaking this talented group for a traveling Disney show having the draw of the best international talent.
The Chrysler Theatre is one ideally designed for the viewing experience. There is not a bad seat in the house. Though seated in Row S, we could easily see the emotion play over character’s faces as they immersed themselves into their roles drawing the audience into the undersea world.
In a cast of wonderful actors, Graeme Wachna as Scuttle the Seagall is a standout. His comic timing from acting as Ariel’s human world “expert” to flying side to side on a wire singing proudly offkey to “Kiss the Girl” inspires peals of laughter from children and adults. Young Caidan Finley plays Flounder, a fish smitten with the beautiful and spirited Ariel. The local fifth grader has a bright future in theatre. The pressure and clearly tireless rehearsal of a show like The Little Mermaid but the young man honors the responsibility of an iconic character with a refreshing spirit of fun. I would be remiss in not mentioning twins Anthony and Frank Piazza as Ursula’s hench-eels, Flotsam and Jetsam. The twins are delightfully slimy and menacing inspiring one of our young guests to declare them as the favorite role in the show as though they were two sides of one being reveling in mischief.
My own favorite moment in the show involves Owen Thomas’ portrayal of a crab that crashes court and is chased by cooks Keystone Cops style. The choreography of the scene is complex with a lot of moving parts but is executed flawlessly led by the wonderful Jim Reid in the role of Chef Louis. Especially impressive is that the jellyfish played by Emily Rivard, Ruby Romero, Elizabeth Beith and Juliana Winik are en pointe as they travel the stage. Though during the dance numbers there were a large number of dancers on stage it was impossible to miss these impressively talented young jellyfish as they traveled the stage in pointe shoes with umbrellas trailing streamers conveying their sea creature identity. In the Sunday show the only misstep was a minor malfunction with microphones that was quickly corrected. The only actors offkey were purposely so and if a line was flubbed it was not noticed by an audience in love with the show.
The Little Mermaid was my first Windsor Light Music Theatre show but it will not be the last. In the spirit of full disclosure I must share that I do know Amber Thibert and Owen Thomas personally. I knew that both were talented and wonderful young people but had no idea of the wealth of their gift until seeing them on stage. The professionalism and wealth of talent of the cast while maintaining a joy of showmanship speaks well for the local company. There was not a person on stage that did not honor their role.
There are limited tickets left for the remaining shows November 20-22. Click the link to get them before they’re gone. If you miss seeing Amber Thibert as Ariel, Aaron Bergeron-Grundy as Prince Eric, Kristen Siapas as Ursula and Owen Thomas as Sebastian, you will have truly missed something special. If you’re in the Windsor area, head over and buy tickets before they’re gone.
Correction: I have since learned that the jellyfish were not, in fact, members of the children’s ensemble. I will post the actor’s names when they are available to me.
11/19 – Windsor Light announced on their Facebook page that the Sunday, November 22, 2015 show is now sold out. Remaining tickets are limited. Call today.