By Cindy Whitehair
On Friday, my son and I impulsively decided we needed to see a show, so we decided to run out to Tooele to see LaForge Encore Theatre Company’s The Little Mermaid. We were glad we made the impulsive choice. Directed by Carol LaForge, Disney’s The Little Mermaid was everything you expect from a Disney production – BIG, colorful, and full of heart.
The first thing I happily noticed was the live orchestra. There are so few chances to experience live music in this valley and there is something wonderful about live music and theater. That was one of the many wonderful little highlights from the production team (headed by Christin Saling). The sets are stunning. Starting with a projection on a scrim that is so realistic that the only way could tell that it was a projection was because the water was moving. The projections help set the many scenes (Ariel’s grotto, King Triton’s and Prince Eric’s castles, Urusla’s lair, etc) – all that were needed were some well-placed set pieces to add depth to the scene, which this show has plenty of. Many of these set pieces were well done and Prince Eric’s boat…brilliant! Then there was the flying, the puppetry, and the special effects. All in all, the pro team has much to be proud of in this show.
That said, a couple minor production “misses” – there were several times where the microphones cut out, especially Arial’s mic. Also, there were a couple of dark places on the fringes of the stage. Normally that isn’t an issue – unless your lead’s spot to stand is in that dark spot. Lastly, some of the scene changes were a bit slow due to the complexity of some of the set pieces.
The makeup (Christin Saling and Emma Thomas) and the costumes (Katie Fowler and Joann Gebs) were outstanding all the way around. The mermaid sisters were especially delightful. Chorographer (Pamela Giles) and her assistant (Emily Rice) certainly had their work cut out for them in this show. All of the sea folk were on wheels (Segway, hoverboards, skates and heelies) so there was that added challenge. Thanks to skating instructor, Juston Ferre, the challenge was conquered.
I could go on and on for a long time about the technical nature of this show, it was so well executed, but we all know the pressing question on everyone’s mind…..Ariel and Prince Eric (Kylee Robinson and Donovan Crane.) They were every bit the Disney Prince and Princess you would expect them to be. Their voices were divine and both showed the growth of character that is necessary for this show. Both on stage and during the after show meet and greet, both were mindful of the their youthful patrons and their interactions with them – something my son (who just came back from working the Disney College Program) really appreciated.
This cast had a huge ensemble (necessarily) but there were a few standouts. Cassidy Ellenberger (who was also the music director) was a delightfully wicked Ursula. Her husband Tony was a wonderfully regal King Triton, the mermaid sisters (Caroline Crane, Emilee Shinn, Emily Rice, Lily Gebs, Emily Whitehouse and Oakley Allen) were delightful and Sebastian (Michael Young) and Chef Louis (Spencer Peck) were hysterical in “Les Poissons.”
Reading the directors notes, you could see that Ms. LaForge had the younger audiences in mind when she was putting this show together. In Disney parlance, it’s called the “Disney Magic” and based on the reactions of the youngest audience members (her target audience) this show is a grand slam home run. Even if you don’t have littles, this show is a real treat. It’s well worth the drive out to Tooele to see.
LaForge Encore Theatre presents Disney’s The Little Mermaid. Performances are at the Tooele High School – 301 W Vine Street Tooele Utah. Tickets are $10.00 each and can be purchased online at http://www.laforgeencore.org/showsmenuItemI.php. Performances are June 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23 and 24. Performances start at 7:00PM.