(Cover Photo: The CAST of the Alan Menken musical "LITTLE MERMAID" now playing at Reagle Music Theatre in Waltham, MA. through August 6, 2023. Photo Credit Herb Philpott)
By Kevin T. Baldwin
“Songs should have an infectious melody and rhythm."
- Alan Menken
Music by Alan Menken
Lyrics by Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater
Book by Doug Wright
Based on the Hans Christian Anderson story and the Disney film
Directed by Taavon Gamble
Music Direction by David Coleman
Cast Includes: Rich Allegretto as “Grimsby,” Alan Cid as “Jetsam / Ensemble,” Joy Clark as “Ensemble,” Aimée Coleman as “Ensemble,” Teddy Edgar as “Chef Louis,” Maia Ettinger as “Youth Ensemble,” Olivia Foght as “Ensemble,” Miki Grubic as “Flotsam / Ensemble,” Nathan Hardy as “Youth Ensemble) Gracie Heffernan as “Youth Ensemble,” Carson Hollingsworth as “Ensemble,” Ellie Lauter as “Ensemble,” Kenny Lee as “Flounder,” Elijah McTiernan as “Ensemble) Cristhian Mancinas-García as “King Triton,” Davron Monroe as “Sebastian,” Jack Mullen as “Scuttle,” Nico Ochoa as “Ensemble,” Julia Osika as “Youth Ensemble,” Katherine Pecevich as “Ursula,” Nick Potts as “Ensemble,” Elias Robles as “Ensemble,” Ray Robinson as “Prince Eric,” Aubrie-Mei Rubel as “Ensemble,” Kayla Shimizu as “Ariel,” Tess Stevens as “Ensemble Swing,” Josh Telepman as “Ensemble.”
Additional Creative Team:
Jay Pension - Line Producer; Lori E. Baruch - Technical Director/ Crew Chief; Frank Meissner Jr. - Lighting Designer; Craig Robertson - Master Electrician; Emerald City Theatrical - Costume Designer/Wardrobe Supervisor ; Olivia Lancellotta - Hair and Make-up Design; Sebastian Nixon - Sound Designer; Lauren Corcuera - Props Master; Sarah Gruber - Dramaturg; William Andrew Young - Assistant Director; Hannah Shihdanian - Assistant Choreographer; Mindy Cimini - Associate Music Director; Jeff Leonard - Conductor; Shauwna Dias Grillo - Stage Manager; Paige D'Ambrosio - Assistant Stage Manager; Kira Trolio - EDI Consultant; and Katie Culloden - Producing Associate.
* Member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States
** Represented by United Scenic Artists, Local USA 829 of the IATSE
° Stage Directors and Choreographers Society
July 28, 2023 through August 6, 2023
(Contact Box Office for Exact Times)
Robinson Theatre, Reagle Music Theatre, 617 Lexington St. Waltham, MA 02452
By Phone # 781-891-5600
Box Office Window: Located under the Reagle Music Theatre marquee at Waltham High School. Box Office Hours: Monday through Friday, 10:00am until 4:00pm
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Reagle Music Theatre brings nothing but immersive joy to their stage in Waltham with the Disney Broadway musical, “THE LITTLE MERMAID” which features a superb ensemble and impressive use of Broadway-caliber production values.
Based on the classic, animated 1989 Disney film and the classic story by Hans Christian Andersen, the story concerns young Ariel (Kayla Shimizu), a mermaid who daydreams, longing to be “part of the world” above the sea, especially when she sees and falls in love with Prince Eric (Ray Robinson).
Directed and choreographed by Taavon Gamble, the production features a clever blend of elaborate sets, wildly inventive, brightly colored costumes and precision use of intelligent lighting.
Gamble pulls out all the stops creating the underwater setting for the classic tale of aquatic characters.
The visual spectacle requires and is given an absurdly beautiful set design and technical strategies to help create the underwater façade.
To help with this “under the sea” illusion, all the (ahem) "submerged" characters are assigned physical gliding movements performed by the actors.
These "ebb and flow" movements are executed in a subtle manner, never becoming outrageous or overused.
The overall attention to detail on the sets contributes to the overall magnificent ambience of the show.
Written by Doug Wright, the musical has songs composed by Alan Menken with lyrics by Howard Ashman (written for the film), with additional lyrics for the original Broadway production supplied by Glenn Slater after Ashman’s death.
The musical originally hit the Broadway stage at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre in 2007, where it replaced Disney's Broadway juggernaut “Beauty and the Beast” and closed in 2009 after 685 performances and 50 previews.
In 2008, “THE LITTLE MERMAID” was nominated for two Tony Awards for “Best Original Score” and “Best Lighting Design of a Musical.” It was also nominated for three Drama Desk Awards including “Outstanding Set Design,” “Outstanding Lighting Design” and “Outstanding Actress in a Musical” (for actress Sierra Boggess).
(Photo: Kayla Shimizu as "Ariel" in the Alan Menken musical "LITTLE MERMAID" now playing at Reagle Music Theatre in Waltham, MA. through August 6, 2023. Photo Credit Herb Philpott)
In the Reagle Music Theatre production, Kayla Shimizu as mermaid "Ariel" the actress is also "outstanding" - coming across as genuinely sweet and thoroughly engaging.
Not only a dynamic vocalist, Shimizu embraces the character, making it her own. She is riveting as she performs the signature Ariel song, “Part of Your World” and then, later, equally impresses on the more upbeat (added Broadway song), “Beyond My Wildest Dreams.”
Ray Robinson does a fine job as Eric, especially as the character itself feels "underwritten."
"Eric," unfortunately, is not a fully "formed" part. There are gaps to the character's background that are quickly dismissed or glided passed in conversation rather than explored.
This is not a limitation of the actor but rather the material. However, Robinson overcomes this fault by being a superior vocalist, shining most brightly during Eric’s numbers “Her Voice” and “One Step Closer.”
Prince Eric is accompanied on various sea voyages with his adviser, Grimsby (Rich Allegretto), and sailors aboard a ship at sea, all singing “Fathoms Below.”
Allegretto does well with his character which, like the character of Prince Eric, could have been explored more by the authors (yet, then again, just how LONG would we want this show to be?)
Occasionally omitted as part of other productions, to listen to the execution of both an "Overture" and "Entr’acte" by the exceptional Reagle orchestra conducted by Jeff Leonard is a total joy.
Enjoy and embrace as the sound of a full, quality orchestra for many musical productions is becoming all the more rarer these days.
The ensemble, under the music direction of David Coleman, is equally as resplendent in their collective musical prowess as they are in their magnificently prismatic costumes.
This is, without a doubt, the finest costumed production this reviewer has seen in 2023. Kudos to the entire combined teams from Emerald City Theatrical and Reagle.
Ariel is one of seven daughters of underwater ruler King Triton (Cristhian Mancinas-García), who is targeted by his vengeful sister, Ursula (Katherine Pecevich).
Ursula hatches an evil plan to use Ariel’s obsession with the world of surface dwellers (and especially Prince Eric) against her to steal her voice and then to ultimately dethrone King Triton.
Cristhian Mancinas-García as "Ruler" Triton presents an imposing presence.
However, Mancinas-García also shows us "Dad" Triton's softer, more parental side in the act two quartet "If Only" sung with Shimizu and Robinson along with probably the world's most familiar crusty crustacean known as Sebastian (Davron Monroe).
As Sebastian, Triton's crabby crab court composer, Monroe plays the character with unbridled enthusiasm and vocal flamboyance.
Monroe is effortlessly assertive and commanding as Sebastian, leading “THE LITTLE MERMAID” ensemble in the iconic songs, “Under the Sea” and “Kiss the Girl” and just blowing any detractors of the musical totally out of the water.
(Photo: Kayla Shimizu as "Ariel" poses center stage with Jack Mullen as "Scuttle" and the CAST of the Alan Menken musical "LITTLE MERMAID" now playing at Reagle Music Theatre in Waltham, MA. through August 6, 2023. Photo Credit Herb Philpott)
Katherine Pecevich is equally exceptional, amazing any time the sinister Ursula appears on stage, especially captivating in the act one finale showstopper, “Poor Unfortunate Souls.”
Ursula is aided by the two sinister, slippery eels Flotsam (Miki Grubic) and Jetsam (Alan Cid) whose electrifying harmonies blend nicely, backing up Ursula on "Daddy's Little Angel" and in their own duet, “Sweet Child.”
Appearing as Ariel's stunning siren "Mersisters" are Aquata (Kindred Moore), Andrina (Aimée Coleman), Arista (Joy Clark), Atina (Ellie Lauter), Adella (Aubrie-Mei Rubel) and Allana (Olivia Foght).
Separately, the Mersisters also serve in other roles in the show but, together, collectively shine most brightly during probably the best of the added new songs to the Broadway score, “She’s in Love.”
Supporting the Mersisters in the song is Ariel's best underwater friend, Flounder (Kenny Lee) who nails the "tail end" of the tuna, uh, tune and, overall, gives an undeniably vibrant portrayal of Ariel's supportive and most sensitive of companions.
Another absolute delight, as if what has already been mentioned isn't hearty enough, is scatterbrained seagull Scuttle (Jack Mullen) who is a laugh riot before even uttering a single line.
In Scuttle's song, "Positoovity," Mullen tap dances, flanked by a fine feathered seagull dance ensemble, and nearly brings the audience to their feet in a collective cheer.
As Prince Eric's Chef Louis (Teddy Edgar), the appearance is brief and verges on being an unnecessary diversion but, with Edgar's fine operatic sound, we are at least treated to the fabulous rendition of “Les Poissons Mayhem.”
(Photo: The CAST of the Alan Menken musical "LITTLE MERMAID" now playing at Reagle Music Theatre in Waltham, MA. through August 6, 2023. Photo Credit Herb Philpott)
There were a few moments where sound seemed to be at inconsistent levels and multiple microphone "pops" could be heard throughout the July 28th performance. This certainly did not diminish the overall spectacle created by the Reagle cast and combined creative teams.
The cast of “THE LITTLE MERMAID” assisted with scene changes which helped to streamline a lot of redress sequences making the show run fluidly.
However, the show is still quite lengthy - any parents concerned about bringing very young children should be aware that this show does run approximately two and a half hours with a somewhat lengthy intermission.
That said, if the child enjoys "THE LITTLE MERMAID" it is unlikely they will see a better production than the one currently running at the Reagle Music Theatre.
So, "swim," do not walk, as fast as you can to see the remaining shows as "THE LITTLE MERMAID" continues in Waltham until August 6th.
Approximately two hours, 30 minutes with one intermission.
Kevin T. Baldwin is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA)
ABOUT THE SHOW
Based on Hans Christian Andersen's beloved tale and the classic animated film, DISNEY'S "THE LITTLE MERMAID" is an astonishingly beautiful love story for the ages.
With music by eight-time Academy Award winner, Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater and a compelling book by Doug Wright, this fishy fable will capture your heart with its irresistible songs, including "Under the Sea," "Kiss the Girl" and "Part of Your World."
Approximately 150 Minutes with one intermission
Ages: recommended 5+
ABOUT REAGLE MUSIC THEATRE OF GREATER BOSTON
REAGLE MUSIC THEATRE OF GREATER BOSTON's mission is to present the highest quality of musical theatre productions by combining talented regional performers with professional performers and technicians, thus providing an unusual learning experience for its regular members and more enjoyable experiences for its audiences. REAGLE MUSIC THEATRE is committed to using the skills of its company to strengthen and enhance teaching and learning in the Waltham Public Schools by educating youth to the joys of theatre, and by using theatre techniques to enhance learning in other curriculum areas. Our offerings include musicals, concerts, revues, educational programming, New York theatergoing trips, and more.
REAGLE MUSIC THEATRE OF GREATER BOSTON, INC.
617 Lexington Street
Waltham, MA 02452