By Don Andrews
Hale Centre Theatre in Gilbert will be transformed into an underwater kingdom when it presents Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” from July 7 through August 19.
The production features fantastic costumes, special effects and beneath-the-sea settings with sophisticated theatrical techniques to create gliding movements.
Theater owner and show producer Dave Dietlein said: “We’re pulling out all the stops for this show. Underwater effects, exquisite costumes, glowing shells and enchanting music all add up to an evening of exhilarating entertainment for children and adults alike.”
Hailed by critics as “an ocean of fun” and “a beguiling romp,” the musical features a young mermaid named Ariel (played by Caelan Creaser), who becomes bored with undersea life and pines to be part of the human “World Above.” That’s strictly forbidden by her controlling father, King Triton. She disregards him and underwater convention to save the life of the handsome Prince Eric (Matt Krantz), who falls overboard from his ship during a raging storm.
The couple quickly falls in love, but Ariel must make a deal with the evil sea witch Ursula (Melissa VanSlyke) to stay with Eric. The deal calls for Ariel to lose her voice for three days in order to become human and charm Eric as her loved one. Complications in the romance arise because Ariel cannot speak.
Nevertheless, Eric chooses Ariel over her competition, a bevy of beautiful princesses that his advisor, Grimsby, has assembled for Eric’s review. After Eric dismisses all of the other young ladies, he chooses Ariel to be his bride. But Ursula appears at dusk and declares the deal is off because three days have passed. A battle ensues for Ariel’s fate, but she and Eric triumph. The lovers are then married on a beautiful beach and sail off into the sunset to live happily ever after.
Music for the show was composed by Alan Menken with lyrics by Howard Ashman. The story is based on a classic tale by Hans Christian Andersen, which was made into a record-breaking movie by Disney in 1989. The success of the film spawned a Disney Broadway musical which bowed in 2008 and ran for more than 700 performances. The movie won two Oscars and the Broadway musical was nominated for two Tony Awards.
The memorable songs include “Fathoms Below,” “The World Above,” “Part of Your World,” “Under the Sea,” “Kiss the Girl,” and “Eric to the Rescue.” The Hale production is directed and choreographed by ariZoni Award-winner Cambrian James. Music direction is by Elizabeth Spencer.
“The Little Mermaid” plays Friday, July 7 through Saturday, August 19. Tickets are $30 for adults, $20 for children and $22 for students with ID. Hale theater is at 50 W. Page Avenue in Gilbert’s Heritage District.