A Disney ‘tail’: ‘The Little Mermaid’ swims into TPAC

Photo by Tayhlor Stephenson / Lifestyles Editor

The night began with aspiring little mermaids, decked out in Ariel costumes and contagious smiles, storming the Tennessee Performing Arts Center for the opening performance of Disney’s “The Little Mermaid.” But young girls only accounted for about half of Tuesday night’s audience; the other half was comprised of adults who long ago fell in love with the under-the-sea fairytale.

Diana Huey, who starred as Ariel, welcomed guests under the sea as the first onstage. Whether it was her fluid back-and-forth motion constantly reminding the audience they were below the ocean’s surface or her incredible vocal ability, Huey exceeded every expectation.

However, the breakout role undoubtedly belonged to Melvin Abston, who played Sebastian, Ariel’s crustacean keeper. Not only did he capture the exact sound of Sebastian through his dialogue and tone of voice, but his evident devotion to the character rang true from start to finish.

And let’s not forget the ever-so-important supporting cast. Jennifer Allen, who played antagonist Ursula, looked and acted the part brilliantly. Her solo performance of “Poor Unfortunate Souls” was a crowd favorite, and it earned her a very generous applause.

Jamie Torcellini, or Scuttle, added a sense of quirkiness to the play, a credit aimed toward the playwright. But Torcellini proved talent beyond just humor with a tap dance solo. Adding to the comical side of things was Dane Stokinger, who played Chef Louis. In the play, Chef Louis’ duty entails cooking a seafood dinner for Prince Eric, played by Eric Kunze, and his new-to-land, speechless guest, Ariel. Things in the kitchen go incredibly wrong as he’s forced to undergo an unexpected quest for a crab — in this case, Sebastian. The chaotic scene scored the single brightest highlight of the entire play.

Pittsburgh CLO & Kansas City Starlight’s preeminent production of “The Little Mermaid” answered many questions left unanswered by the popular Disney film. The play included details regarding Ariel’s mother’s mysterious absence, the reasoning for Ursula’s hatred and many other appreciated tidbits of information.

Unbeatable choreography, astonishing costume, hair and makeup design and a live orchestra bumped “The Little Mermaid” from decent to must-see status.

The production also did a fantastic job at setting the mood for each scene. Special-effect lighting extended from the stage to the walls, allowing the audience to feel just as much a part of the play as Ariel herself.

As far as props go, they were a-plenty. Perhaps the most famous prop used in the play was the “dinglehopper,” Ariel’s fork treasure popularly named by Scuttle. Large props were used, too, including the row boat in the iconic “Kiss the Girl” number.

Precise usage of bold, heavy instrumental music was strategically performed in the midst of intense scenes, such as Prince Eric’s shipwreck, and lighter instrumentals for less-extreme scenes. Pittsburgh CLO & Kansas City Starlight truly pulled out all the tricks in their production of “The Little Mermaid,” and they did it well.

Showings of Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” in TPAC’s Andrew Jackson Hall will continue through Sunday. Don’t miss out on this fun-for-the-whole-family play, and snatch your tickets while you can.

To purchase tickets, click here.

For more information on TPAC and their upcoming shows, click here.

Follow Tayhlor Stephenson on Twitter at @tayhlor_s.

To contact Lifestyles Editor Tayhlor Stephenson, email lifestyles@mtsusidelines.com.

For more updates, follow us at www.mtsusidelines.com, on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines and on Twitter/Instagram at @Sidelines_Life.

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