by Sheli Ellsworth
Once again, the Cabrillo Music Theatre brings brilliance and beauty to the stage with the production of The Little Mermaid. The Hans Christian Anderson story that became a Disney classic is the ultimate undersea adventure. The Broadway musical will be playing at the Kavli Theatre in Thousand Oaks until Sunday, July 24.
The story of Ariel, a disenchanted mermaid who wants to become human, is set against a sea of blues, greens and purples that move and change with the undulating characters who swim though its depths suspended on wires. The staging for this musical is superb. The music and lighting move in a sublime harmony that actually lulls the audience to a place under the sea. Opening night’s enthusiastic crowd confirmed that director Larry Raben has hit the magic seashell out of the park and gave the production a standing ovation.
Lawrence Cummings as Sebastian the crab brings a fun quirky energy to the part as well as a skilled voice that quickly makes him an audience favorite. Debbie Prutsman as Ursula the undersea witch is convincingly disgusting. When the slimy Ursula starts to wrap her tentacles around Ariel, everyone in the audience scoots back in their seat a little—glancing toward the theatre’s exits.
Alison Bagli has performed the role of Ariel before and was a natural choice for the redheaded mermaid. Bagli’s mermaid moves with grace and her clear voice keeps the part fresh throughout the lengthy performance. Handsome New Yorker, Conor Guzman, who plays Prince Eric, is also a writer and director as well as a convincing prince.
The Cabillo’s Little Mermaid has something for everyone: Flotsam and Jetsam, electrified sea snakes on hover scooters; Chef Louis, a big man in the seafood industry; Flounder in yellow knee-high Converse shoes who has a secret crush; Scuttle the slightly scattered seagull and many other sea creatures, maids and ladies in waiting.
The Little Mermaid runs through Sunday July 24 at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza. Call 800.745.3000 or go to www.cabrillomusictheatre.com for ticket info.