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Theater Review: “Disney’s The Little Mermaid”

 “Disney’s The Little Mermaid” runs through September 24, 2017 at San Diego Civic Theatre; 1100 3rd and B Street, Downtown.
Photo credit:
Steve Wilson

Sometimes misfits find each other and get together. The current example is Ariel (adorable Diana Huey), the little mermaid who doesn’t want to be limited to that watery world below. She’d rather find out what’s going on in (and be part of) “The World Above.”

This drives daddy King Triton (exasperated Steve Blanchard) crazy. As if having seven daughters and not a single son weren’t punishment enough, now he has to put a tail on Ariel to try to keep her in line. So he picks that bright red crab Sebastian (Melvin Abston), the calypso-inflected court composer, who turns out not to be much more effective than Triton was at keeping tabs on that errant daughter. But he’s a great singer and dancer.

Meanwhile, there’s Prince Eric (silver-voiced Eric Kunze), being groomed to take over as king, who’d much rather be a sailor than a stuffy old king, and we meet him on a ship.

That’s where he spots his new true love Ariel, and you can guess where it goes from there.

Disney’s much-beloved “Little Mermaid” is back, in a sparkling wow of a show through Sept. 24 at Civic Theatre.

This incarnation hits all the high spots as well as being a visual knockout in terms of color, movement (everybody’s flying, okay, swimming around in brightly colored garb and having a wonderful time), Charlie Morrison’s lighting design is fabulous and so are Kenneth Foy’s sets.

This show also boasts one of Alan Menken’s best scores (though it has a few more songs than necessary), and the most engaging set of supporting characters any musical can name. 

Flounder (Marco Ramos), Ariel’s best friend, is resplendently bright yellow and blue. Scuttle (Jamie Torcellini), is a seagull who names a fork a "dinglehopper" and says that it is used as a comb, and a smoking pipe a "snarfblatt" while claiming it works like a trumpet.

And how about those slippery electric eels Flotsam (Brandon Roach) and Jetsam (Frederick Hagreen), slithering around with their blindingly bright lights.

And the hilarious Chef Louis (Dane Stokinger), who nearly brings the house down with his signature love song/murder ballad “Les Poissons.”

Scuttle the seagull (Jamie Torcellini) and the other gulls get another favorite song, “Positoovity,” 

And let’s not forget the sea witch Ursula (Jennifer Allen), an octopus (though this one seems to be missing two tentacles) who rules the watery underground and makes a pretty difficult legalistic deal with Ariel, who wants to be human.

This “Mermaid” has a large orchestra and fine musical leadership in Colin R. Freeman. It’s also blessed with terrific voices all around.

You can’t ask for much more. If you’re looking for tech wizardry, great voices, a beloved story and wonderful songs, “The Little Mermaid” is for you.

The details

“Disney’s The Little Mermaid” runs through September 24, 2017 at San Diego Civic Theatre; 1100 3rd and B Street, Downtown.

Friday at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday at 2 and 7:30 p.m.; Sunday at 1 and 6 p.m.

Tickets: (619) 570-1100 or broadwaysd.com