The Little Mermaid by The Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts in Philadelphia, PA
April 18, 2018
Review submitted by Sarah Eckstein Indik of Jack M Barrack Hebrew Academy
With glowing floating jellyfish, shimmering mermaids, and devilish eels The Philadelphia High School for Creative & Performing Arts’ production of The Little Mermaid brought the audience “Under the Sea”, giving them a FIN-tastic time!
Based on the 1989 Disney film, Doug Wright’s and Alan Menken’s The Little Mermaid details the tale of a young mermaid princess, Ariel, who falls in love with a human prince, Eric. Ariel wishes to be a part of the same world as Eric so that they can be together. However, she finds herself trapped without a voice. With the help of her loving and loyal friends, Flounder, Scuttle, and Sebastian, she gets her happy ending.
Anchored by dramatic makeup that set the scene and beautiful harmonies from the ensemble, the production was performed with aplomb and was full of life.
With grace and poise, Ariel, played by Ariana Droz-Santiago, portrayed her character’s eagerness to be a part of the human world. Her singing voice was clear and bright, showing Ariel’s childlike passion. Her romantic interest, Prince Eric, portrayed by Cameren Sullivan, performed beautifully during his many solos. Accurately characterizing Eric’s personality, his love of the sea was very believable.
As a whole, the ensemble was energetic in their rendition of “Under the Sea” as they flooded the audience with their brightly colored costumes and individual personas. Flounder (Mazie Wolf) magnificently portrayed her character’s lovable nature, loyalty to Ariel, and adorable awkwardness, winning over the audience. Some other standout performances were that of Ursula (Zami Buggs-King), Sebastian (Anaya Manley), and Grimsby (Saul Threadgill). Each having very different characteristics, they all captured their characters with ease. Ursula, evil and conniving, maneuvered her tentacles naturally and sang out proudly. Sebastian and Grimsby both impressively kept up accents throughout the performance, each causing the audience to burst of into fits of laughter. Although at times actors had difficulty connecting with their character’s truth, the singing was stupendous. Though there were uncomfortable pauses between dialogue and song, the production engaged the audience.
This musical’s orchestra was made up entirely of students. Although it was an impressive feat with challenging music, they accomplished it with professional quality. Because there were some microphone problems, the sound coming in and out, they could be overpowering at times, but the actors persevered. With large moveable sets, the crew could be slow in changing it at times, but transitions were also fun. One featured a seagull dancing around while clearing feathers, causing eruptions of laughter. Remarkable, the makeup (Ellie Smith, Isabella Stein, Amirror Johnson, LeVar Brown) of this production truly transformed each actor into a creature of the sea.
The Little Mermaid presented by the Philadelphia High School for Creative & Performing Arts indeed mer-made the audience laugh, dance, sing, and smile.
Review submitted by Rivkah Wyner of Jack M Barrack Hebrew Academy.
The fathoms below of life under the sea is a mysterious world that The Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts immersed the entire audience into during their sensational performance of The Little Mermaid.
Based on the beloved Disney film, The Little Mermaid is a cheerful, light-hearted musical about the mermaid Ariel, daughter of Triton, king of the sea. She longs to live on land and be with her human love, Prince Eric. Antagonizing this plot is the sea-witch Ursula, who schemes to take away Triton’s power by taking advantage of Ariel’s treacherous dreams.
Ariana Droz-Santiago was beyond our “wildest dreams” in her portrayal of Ariel. She had a stunning voice and shone on stage. Cameren Sullivan, who played Prince Eric, was a perfect complement to Santiago. Their chemistry on stage was so authentic, and Sullivan’s vocals blew the audience away. In the role of Ursula, Zami Buggs-King brought a sassy flair to the esteemed role. Every scene of hers was a wonder to the show. Playing Sebastian the crab, Anaya Manley was hilarious; she superbly embodied Sebastian’s Caribbean accent and crab walk.
A tremendous standout in the performance was Mazie Wolf in the role of Flounder, Ariel’s sidekick. Every moment on stage, Wolf made brilliant and comedic character choices while also exceptionally personifying her part as a fish and being underwater. Erisa Pikuli, in the part of the goofy seabird Scuttle, was vivacious on stage. She was bold, funny, and positively delightful in every way.
The ensemble members that made up both the underwater creatures and the humans were very strong and energetic. The large numbers, particularly “Under the Sea”, were vibrant and lively so that the audience really felt immersed in the underwater world. The ensemble members were particularly strong dancers, but also strong vocalists, making it so that these numbers were both fun to watch and wonderful to listen to.
The hair and makeup in this show by Elli Smith, Isabella stein, Amirror Johnson, and LeVar Brown brilliantly transformed the cast into the sea creatures they were portraying. In this production, the orchestra was completely made up of students who excellently accompanied the performance. The student stage crew was also efficiently run, even though some of the scene changes were slow at times.
Overall, The Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts’ production of The Little Mermaid was swimmingly executed. It was an enjoyable and bubbly production with a magnificently talented and strong cast.