Hey, Mom! The Explanation.

Here's the permanent dedicated link to my first Hey, Mom! post and the explanation of the feature it contains.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #381 - The Little Mermaid

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #381 - The Little Mermaid

Hi Mom, Not a lot of newly generated content today. Just wanted to share my review. And for fun, I am also sharing the Encore Michigan review.

I wish you were still here.

You would love this show.

But more than anything, I want people to attend the live theatre.

I hope the Barn is killing at the box office.


"The Little Mermaid”
a production of the Barn Theatre
at the Barn Theatre, Augusta, MI
Attended Date: July 19, 2016
reviewed by Christopher Tower

It’s rare that the audience is as entertaining as a musical production, but on Tuesday night at the Barn Theatre, dozens of little princesses in training roamed the aisles to catch bubbles and sang along while shushed by their mothers to the familiar and joyous music of Disney’s “The Little Mermaid.”

Enjoying a nearly full house of families with small children, the Barn Theatre launched its most ambitious and magnificent production of its summer season with the theatrical adaptation of the hit Disney film that has inspired girls nationwide to aspire to new worlds, sunlight, dancing, and singing as they make their transformations from mermaids to the wives of kings.

Using its substantial 70 years of experience, the Barn assembles its best and most massive musical production in years to wow audiences with visually-arresting sets and props, aquatically-themed costumes, moody undersea lighting and effects, and a company of outstanding performers. Hoping for a blockbuster with the audience-favorite Disney epic, the Barn delivers in oodles of seashells, bubbles, and corral reefs.

Think about it. How do you depict all that water and the undersea world of the Little Mermaid and her family? For those who adored the 1989 Disney film, no problem, right? It’s animated, after all. But how to show that undersea world and its cast of aquatic characters on the stage?

Like many productions that followed the 2008 Broadway opening and the subsequent re-imagining in 2012, the waves of the oceans, the tentacles of the squid, and other features are mimicked by a combination of actors in aqua-colored tights, puppets, and long swaths of seawater fabric rippled by performers. Sea creatures like jelly fish and sea horses on long poles are manipulated over the heads of the audience while a bubble machine that fills the air with enough bubbles to entice wee ones out of their seats. Add to these other special effects, complex sets of corral and kelp, and you can imagine why this is the Barn’s most ambitious and yet successful production in years.

Awe-inspiring tech work includes gorgeous scenic designs by Michael Wilson Morgan, brilliant lighting by Molly Lamperis, and delightful costumes by Carly Heathcote. All of this beauty is orchestrated masterfully by director Hans Friedrichs with choreography by Jamey Grisham and musical direction by Matt Shabala.

And yet, the technical features of the show are only one of its successful elements. The Barn’s company may be its strongest in over a decade as remarked upon by producer Brendan Ragotzy in his pre-show speech. Not a single performance is lacking, and some are especially exciting and enjoyable.

The story of “The Little Mermaid” is familiar to most people who have had children in the last 27 years. Ariel, the Little Mermaid, (Melissa Cotton Hunter), yearns to walk in the sun on the surface world of humans rather than being confined beneath the sea as her human-hating father King Triton (Eric Parker) commands. But when the king’s sister Ursula (Penelope Alex) trades Ariel’s voice for legs to replace her fins in a magically binding contract, the young mermaid turned human woman gets to venture on land to meet the prince (Jamey Grisham) with whom she has fallen in love. Though she cannot speak or sing, she manages to capture the prince’s heart but does not receive his kiss in time to stop Ursula from stealing the undersea throne from Triton. Though all’s well in the end as Ariel manages to thwart the squid witch and restore her father to his throne.

After two years off from the stage to marry and give birth to her first child, Melissa Cotton Hunter re-establishes herself as the star-in-the-making type talent that audiences saw in productions like “Legally Blonde,” “Shrek,” and “Hair.” Cotton Hunter is the perfect Ariel with a voice like golden sunshine and a body that can make the mermaid costume work, especially as she undulates to simulate swimming, aided by three performers who represent the water. Her rendition of one of the show’s signature songs – “Part of Your World” – is achingly beautiful. But Cotton Hunter is not just a pretty voice. Her acting talents are as sharp as ever, especially in the challenging scenes in which she cannot speak.

Cotton Hunter’s performance alone will captivate audiences both young and old – though especially young – but the supporting cast is just as worthy of accolades, most notably her companions.
First year apprentice Quin Moran steals the show with the outrageously humorous role of Scuttle, the seagull. Second-year apprentice Kasady Kwiatkowska manages her puppet of Flounder with the goofy sweetness that makes the character so popular in the film. But also show-stealing is the talent of Michael Fisher in the role of Sebastian the crab, who holds center stage during the show’s biggest and most incredible musical numbers: “Under the Sea” and “Kiss the Girl.”
Penelope Alex is delightfully wicked as Ursula while aided and abetted by her slithery eels Flotsam (Brooke Evans) and Jetsam (Nicholas R Whitaker). Eric Parker earns marks for the dotting yet stern father of Ariel, King Triton, and Jamey Grisham is just the right leading man to win the mermaid’s heart as Prince Eric.

Still, the show would not be as successful without bit players making a big splash in their roles, including Patrick Hunter as the fish-slaughtering Chef Louis, John Jay Espino as the perpetually seasick Grimsby, Charlie King as the swarthy ship pilot, and most importantly Ariel’s mer-sisters: Sarah Lazar, Hannah Eakin, Samantha Rickard, Jackie Blasting, Lauren Landman, and Andrea Arvanigian.

The Barn’s production of Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” delivers wave upon wave of spectacular entertainment for audiences of all ages. Judging by its opening night near sell-out, tickets may be carried away by a flood of requests soon. Experience the magic of live theater before its time afloat sinks away.


Reflect and connect.

Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you.

I miss you so very much, Mom.

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.


- Days ago = ## days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - date - time

NOTE on time: When I post late, I had been posting at 7:10 a.m. because Google is on Pacific Time, and so this is really 10:10 EDT. However, it still shows up on the blog in Pacific time. So, I am going to start posting at 10:10 a.m. Pacific time, intending this to be 10:10 Eastern time. I know this only matters to me, and to you, Mom. But I am not going back and changing all the 7:10 a.m. times. But I will run this note for a while. Mom, you know that I am posting at 10:10 a.m. often because this is the time of your death.
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