The Palmdale Playhouse’s collaborative partnership with Palmdale Repertory Theatre is truly a splash made in heaven.
Their latest production, Disney’s “The Little Mermaid,” takes the audience to the magical underwater kingdom of Atlantica.
Half of the show takes place underwater. Now, you won’t get splashed, but there are some special effects — bubbles — that add to the underwater enchantment.
The stellar cast includes the scene-stealing Carla Morgan as Ursula, Tony Kirk as Sebastian, Alex Wallis as Scuttle, Nilesh Kumar as Flounder and Aiden Kastner as Prince Eric. Bronx native Eric Schwartz is not only starring in his first community theater production, he got a featured role as King Triton and he does an admirable job as the kind father.
The role of Ariel is shared by two actresses, Ellie Aguilar and Hilary Chaney. Aguilar performed Ariel at the sold-out March 23 evening performance. Aguilar has a big, beautiful voice and is bound for a career in the performing arts, as she indicated that is her desire in the program notes.
The audience cheered and roared with delight when Morgan first appeared onstage as Ursula the sea witch. She commanded the audience’s attention whenever she was on stage. Part of it had to do with her presence — the gorgeous octopus costume and that high stack of white hair. Then there was her out-sized personality. Morgan conveyed Ursula’s evilness without being too scary for any young children in the audience.
Fans of Disney’s animated 1989 hit movie will not be disappointed in the show. Based on the classic tale by Hans Christian Anderson, “The Little Mermaid” is a tale about a mermaid who dreams of the world above the sea and the two-legged prince she’s fallen in love with. She trades her voice with the evil sea witch Ursula for two legs and a few days on land, to find the prince. Voiceless, Ariel must win the prince’s heart or face a terrible fate.
The musical has the same catchy songs — “Kiss The Girl,” “Under the Sea,” “Poor Unfortunate Souls,” “Part of Your World” and “Les Poissons” — written for the movie by Alan Menken and the late Howard Ashman, with additional lyrics by Glenn Slater. The book is by Doug Wright. New songs such as Act II’s “Beyond My Wildest Dreams,” which the voiceless Ariel sings to convey what she’s thinking, blend well and add to the story.
Kastner’s Prince Eric displays a sweetness as he searches for the voice that won his heart, yet falls for the silent Ariel who is now above land and charms the prince without saying a word.
Other standout performances include Kirk as Sebastian the crab. He is wonderful as King Triton’s musical director and gets two of the show’s catchiest tunes, “Under the Sea” and “Kiss the Girl,” which are performed by the ensemble cast. Kumar as Flounder, Mario Gonzalez as Chef Louis and Wallis are also great.
There is much to see and hear in the marvelous production. The costumes by Steve Miller and Deborah Petty of Sew Crazy are colorful and gorgeous. Jeremy Gruca’s shimmering light design is wondrous, taking the audience under the sea with stunning effects. Tyler Bond’s production design is also beautiful. The choreography by Carrie McBryant is charming.
Director Marco Aguilar, the cast and all of the behind-the-scenes folks created a gem of a show that is as much fun for the adults as it is for the children. The audience at the March 23 evening performance clearly enjoyed the show with bursts of cheers and roars of delight throughout.
The remaining four shows are likely to sell out. If you want to see the show, you are advised to get your tickets early. The City of Palmdale, which is listed as a producer, offers overflow parking across the street from the Palmdale Playhouse, at 38334 10th St. East. There is construction on 10th Street East near the theater and it will be more convenient to park across the street if you are running late.
Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” will be on stage at 8 p.m., March 29 and 30; and 2 p.m., March 30 and 31.
Tickets cost $20 for adults, $15 for seniors age 55 and older, military and students with ID and children 12 and younger.
For details visit www.palmdaleplayhouse.com, or call 661-267-5684.