The Towne Players of Garner’s production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid is kind of a mixed bag. Whether you will like it is dependent on what type of entertainment you are looking for. As most of you know, the plot is based on Hans Christian Andersen’s 1837 Danish fairy tale and the Disney’s 1989 animated film of the same title. The film is an animated musical, with music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Howard Ashman. This stage version adds lyrics by Glenn Slater and a book by Doug Wright.
The stage musical retains all of the great music from the film and adds about a dozen more songs. This seemed a bit much for some of the kids in the audience, although it may well have been their first experience with live theater.
Towne Players co-founder and artistic director Beth Honeycutt did a credible job of integrating a cast of over 50, including many grade-school kids, high-school kids, adults, and seasoned performers. For those looking for the production values and performance levels of a travelling company in a large venue, this production may not meet your expectations.
Here are some of the things that are worth the experience: 2012 Miss North Carolina Arlie Honeycutt Kidd as Ariel and Kathryn Davis as Ursula are as good as you will see or hear anywhere in the Triangle theater community. The show itself is simply a fabulous story with a great score.
The tickets are quite a bargain at $20, giving parents yet another opportunity to introduce their children to live-theater performance. There are some fun and enthusiastic production numbers that made very good use of the young cast members.
Conversely, there were a few problems. There were some issues with the lighting. Some characters are, at times, in the dark while speaking or singing. There were also some sound issues. The Garner Performing Arts Center (formerly the Garner Historic Auditorium) is an older venue, with poor acoustics; but characters on the riser in the back of the stage are difficult to hear, and the recorded soundtrack drowned out some of the singers and some dialogue.
The show opening was also a bit problematic as there was an overly lengthy presentation promoting the group and future shows. The audience, particularly the kids, just talked right through it and kept doing so during a barely audible recorded overture that played with the house lights up.
Overall, the effort and enthusiasm of the cast made up for the relatively minor shortcomings. I would recommend this production as a reasonable value for a fun night out for the family.
The Towne Players present Disney’s THE LITTLE MERMAID at 2 and 8 p.m. Oct. 19 and 8 p.m. Oct. 25 and 26 at the Garner Performing Arts Center (formerly Garner Historic Auditorium), 742 W. Garner Rd., Garner, North Carolina 27529.
TICKETS: $18.65, plus convenience or handling fees, except $12 per person for groups of 12 or more.
BOX OFFICE: Tickets will be sold at the door or may be purchased online at http://www.etix.com/.
GROUP RATES (12+ tickets): 919-795-8730 or http://www.towneplayers.org/contact/group-ticket-info/.
INFORMATION: 919-779-6144 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
SHOW: http://www.towneplayers.org/, https://www.facebook.com/events/2415674775212684/, and https://www.garnernc.gov/departments/parks-recreation-and-cultural-resources/garner-performing-arts-center-1747.
2019 SEASON: http://www.towneplayers.org/performances/current-season/.
PRESENTER: http://www.towneplayers.org/ https://www.facebook.com/TownePlayersofGarner, and https://twitter.com/towneplayers.
The Little Mermaid (Den lille Havfrue) (1837 Danish fairy tale): http://www.andersen.sdu.dk/vaerk/hersholt/TheLittleMermaid_e.html (Jean Hersholt’s English translation from the Hans Christian Andersen Center at the University of Southern Denmark) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Little_Mermaid (Wikipedia).
Hans Christian Andersen (Danish author, 1805-75): http://www.andersen.sdu.dk/liv/index_e.html (Hans Christian Andersen Center at the University of Southern Denmark) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans_Christian_Andersen (Wikipedia).
Disney’s The Little Mermaid (1989 animated film): http://movies.disney.com/the-little-mermaid (official website), http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/81548/Little-Mermaid-The/ (Turner Classic Movies), http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0097757/ (Internet Movie Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Little_Mermaid_%281989_film%29 (Wikipedia).
Ron Clements (director and screenwriter): http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0166256/ (Internet Movie Database) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ron_Clements (Wikipedia).
John Musker (director and screenwriter): http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0615780/ (Internet Broadway Database) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Musker (Wikipedia).
Disney’s The Little Mermaid (2008 Broadway musical): http://www.mtishows.com/disneys-the-little-mermaid (Music Theatre International page for Revised Regional Version), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-show/the-little-mermaid-456221 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Little_Mermaid_musical (Wikipedia).
Alan Menken (music): https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/alan-menken-12135 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0579678/ (Internet Movie Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Menken (Wikipedia).
Glenn Slater (lyrics): https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/glenn-slater-80644 (Internet Broadway Database) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glenn_Slater (Wikipedia).
Howard Ashman (lyrics): https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/howard-ashman-6356 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0039141/ (Internet Movie Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howard_Ashman (Wikipedia).
Doug Wright (book): https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/doug-wright-113564 (Internet Broadway Database) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doug_Wright (Wikipedia).
Beth Honeycutt (Garner, NC director and Towne Players co-founder and artistic director): https://www.facebook.com/beth.honeycutt2 (Facebook page).
Robert O’Connell is new to the Triangle, but not to the stage. As a playwright, he has had dozens of productions and awards throughout the world. He has an MS degree in Management Systems Analysis. A lifelong educator, O’Connell has also published three novels at http://www.flashmobthenovel.com/ and two humor anthologies from his blog, https://thesmartestguyiknow.wordpress.com/. He and his wife have settled in Cary, NC. Click here to read his reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.