Los Angeles Theater Preview: THE LITTLE MERMAID (La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts)

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by Frank Arthur on May 30, 2016

in Theater-Los Angeles


It is surprising that the stage adaptation of The Little Mermaid took until 2008 to hit Broadway. The 1989 film on which it’s based marked the beginning of a major comeback for the Walt Disney company as a purveyor of animated movie musicals. The movie studio responsible for Bambi and Dumbo had gone a long time without producing anything in that league, and it wasn’t until Jeffrey Katzenberg brought in two talented Off-Broadway songwriters, composer Alan Menken and lyricist Howard Ashman, that Disney got back on track with its signature product. Menken and Ashman immediately set to work on a follow-up, Beauty and the Beast, and were on to a third Disney film, Aladdin, when Ashman died of AIDS at the age of 39 on March 14, 1991.


But when the retooled musical came to New York (with bookwriter Doug Wright and lyricist Glenn Slater teaming with Menken for 10 additional songs that both elaborate on and update the characters and storyline), it didn’t do well; no one I know blamed the songs but an overstuffed Broadway outing. Along came Director Glenn Casale, who reinvented Mermaid for a 2012 Dutch production. Since then, the musical has caught steam and the changes Casale made have become part of the musical which is now licensed by Disney. And this is exactly the version you’ll get when The Little Mermaid swims into the La Mirada Performing Arts Center this week. Casale, who has worked with McCoy/Rigby entertainment on the rightfully popular Peter Pan, returns to La Mirada for a production which includes the best from Southern California’s musical performers, and it only runs through June 26, 2016.

The Cast: Alison Woods as Ariel, Melvin Abston as Sebastian, Adam Garst as Flounder, Fred Inkley as King Triton, Eric Kunze as Prince Eric, Tracy Lore as Ursula, Jeff Skowron as Chef Louis, Jamie Torcellini as Scuttle, Scott T. Leiendecker as Flotsam, Jeffrey Christopher Todd as Jetsam, Time Winters as Grimsby. The ensemble: Ashley Anderson, Kim Arnett, Kristine Bennett, Marjorie Failoni, Melissa Glasgow, Devon Hadsell, Michael McGurk, Amanda Minano, Dennis O’Bannon, Marco Ramos, Aaron Ronelle, James Shackelford, Brian Steven Shaw and Tro Shaw.

The story about a mermaid who longs to be part of the human world continues to entrance, and this new version–which centers on the father-daughter relationship more than the girl-and-her-prince–will definitely surprise you with its freshness.

photo courtesy of Bruce Bennett, Theatre Under the Stars

The Little Mermaid
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts
14900 La Mirada Blvd. in La Mirada
Wed & Thurs at 7:30; Fri at 8;
Sat at 2 & 8; Sun at 2
ends on June 26, 2016
for tickets, call 562.944.9801 or visit La Mirada Theatre

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