The Community Theatre of Greensboro conjures Disney magic with ‘The Little Mermaid’
By: Omar Obregon-Cuebas
Disney is known for making countless magic moments through film, music and animation. The Community Theatre of Greensboro did well to continue the Disney spirit with its production of “The Little Mermaid.” Bringing the Hans Christian Andersen classic to life in the historic Carolina Theatre was an experience unlike any other.
“The Little Mermaid” begins with the appearance of the iconic Disney mermaid princess Ariel (portrayed by Cassandra Clare). She sits upon a rock alone on the stage with a set design made to emulate the vastness of the open sea. The musical is about the tribulations that young Ariel goes through to connect with her human love Prince Eric (Brian Ford). She faces pushback from her society and especially from her human-hating father King Triton (Rod Speight).
Through Ariel’s nefarious aunt Ursula (Rachel Phillips Sommers) she becomes human but at the cost of her voice. The classic tale of love, crossing cultural boundaries, magic and understanding is animated through a lively musical performance.
The quality of both stage and vocal performances was at a high level for a community theatre. In particular, the vocal performances of both Ariel and Sebastian (Trevor Neal) were definitely the highlights of the show. Every time Ariel was center stage, there was a strong command of her role and performance. Sebastian, for me, was the standout character of the musical because his costume was enough to woo and capture the audiences’ attention. His singing, dancing and movement as a crab all added to my adoration of this character. Another outstanding performance was from the antagonist, Ursula.
Sommers’ performance as the evil aunty was met with fervent applause each time she appeared and ended her songs.
The song “Under the Sea” was a marvel of set design, choreography, and, of course, Sebastian’s time to shine. During the runtime of the song, the stage exploded with a kaleidoscopic range of colors and movement. Sebastian led the song with his strongest vocal performance. I was reminded why “Under The Sea” is one of the most classic and iconic Disney songs.
From Ursula’s minions wearing wheels on their shoes and lights on their costumes to the ever-present waves on the stage, the set design was always stunning and innovative.
Costume designer Stephanie Evans, choreographer Anne Norman and set designer Michael Vance deserve special mention for the wonderful part they played in this production. Director Mitchel Sommers, who appears as the lively French Chef Louis, deserves praise for directing such a large production at this high of a level. Furthermore, the musical director and conductor Garrett Saake also deserves praise for the performance of the orchestra, which never seemed to skip a beat.
Overall, this production of “The Little Mermaid” is one that rolled back the years for me and made me reminiscent of my childhood. Within the seats of the majestic Carolina Theatre, I once again felt the excitement that a child does when discovering Disney magic. Both my 7-year-old brother and I were left with feelings of awe and satisfaction. I would recommend this show for people of all ages.
If you want to see the show for yourself, tickets for June 22 at 7 p.m., June 23 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., and June 24 at 2 p.m. are available for purchase by calling the Carolina Theatre box office (310 S. Greene St.) at (336) 333-2605 or visiting in-person from noon to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.