The Little Mermaid

Date 3rd July 2015
Society Sawston Youth Drama
Venue The Marven Centre, Sawston, Cambridge
Type of Production Musical
Director Gareth Furbank & Jackie Green
Choreographer Maria Dean


Author: Sue Hartwell

SYD 7s' production of this one act adaptation of the 2008 Disney Broadway acclaimed stage version of the 1989 film, based on Hans Christian Anderson's fairy tale, was just perfect for this cast of enthusiastic and talented young performers aged between 11 and 12.

They dramatically and colourfully brought to life the story of beautiful young mermaid princess Ariel, who longs to leave her father King Triton's underwater kingdom.  On one of her trips to the human world above, she saves the handsome young prince Eric from drowning, who is enchanted by her lovely voice and is determined to seek her out and claim her as his bride.  Ariel has to make a deal with the wicked sea witch, Ursula, forfeiting her voice for the chance to become human for three days and find her prince and, as in all good fairy tales, good triumphs over evil in the end.

And what a cast!  Amelia Perry gave us a delightfully spirited performance as Ariel, with a lovely pure voice.  (It was just such a shame that her microphone appeared not to be working at times, so some of her dialogue was difficult to hear).  Young Reece Bond, as Ariel's watchful guardian Sebastian the crab, with his wonderful shell-like costume and goggle-eyed top hat, gave an assured and confidently comical performance.  Kaan Velioglu as Scuttle the seagull and Phoebe Poulter-Kerry as Flounder, were also good in their supportive roles as Ariel's companions on her trips to the world above the ocean.  Jake Dann, as Ariel's concerned and strict father, King Triton, had good stage presence and showed a sense of maturity beyond his young age.  As his evil sister, the banished sea witch Ursula, Hattie Thompson almost stole the show with her deliciously scary performance and powerful singing voice.  Her number "Poor Unfortunate Souls", ably supported by Sully Bishop and Josh Henson as her henchmen Flotsam and Jetsam the electric eels, was a memorable moment during the show.  Of the human characters involved in this nautical fairy tale, Conor Caughtry, as the enchanted prince Eric, seemed just a little uneasy in his role at times, but nevertheless put in a solid performance, with a fine singing voice.  He was well supported by Hughie Hunter as his court advisor and companion Grimsby, Owen Avant as the ship's pilot, Hannah Gillott as his house-keeper Carlotta and Iliane Ureta-Vidal in his camo appearance as the Chef, who's thwarted in his attempt to grab the crab Sebastian for the pot!

In his last production as Director for this youngest group of the Sawston Youth Drama family, Gareth Furbank, together with Artistic Director Jackie Green, had excelled in creating a brilliantly dramatic magical underworld kingdom, with the clever use of a shimmering back drop, simulating the ebb and flow of the tide, as the delightful sea ceatures made their journeys between the ocean and the human world above.  Indeed, the whole set, with the prince's ship, King Triton and the Sea Witch's thrones and Ariel's grotto so realistically created, and an equally effective lighting plot, was a suberb backdrop to the drama unfolding on stage, enhanced by the fabulous costumes and make-up designed for the various characters and chorus by the wardrobe anad make-up teams.

There was some excellent singing and dancing by the chorus of Mersisters and the ensemble, too, with imaginative, high-energy choreography devised by Maria Dean.  However, as is sometimes the case when working with backing tracks instead of a live band and Musical Director, the timing of some of the principals musical numbers between the dialogue was delayed and the sound level was too high, so that the performers were in danger of straining their young voices.  This is my one small, hopefully helpful, criticism of an otherwise crisp and energising performance, enjoyed by all of us in the supportive first night audience - well done everyone!