The Little Mermaid

Date 14th December 2023
Society Danbury Players
Venue Danbury Village Hall
Type of Production Pantomime
Director Jenny Pitcher and Gary Jarvis

Report

Author: Katherine Tokley

The Little Mermaid

Danbury Players

Thursday 14th December 2023

Danbury Village Hall

Directed by Jenny Pitcher and Gary Jarvis

 

As I entered the hall with my two sons and their nanny in tow (we made the night a family affair), we were transported to an underwater ethereal kingdom bathed in blue light, with shadows of bubbles and an impressive projection of fish swimming across the backdrop of the stage. The wow factor from my sons was certainly well deserved, as was the opening number as shoals of children with neon fish, jellyfish and sequin scales swam into the hall. 

Mother of Pearl, played with grace and confidence by Lydia Rose was our guide for the evening, announced with every entrance with bold pyrotechnics to the delight of the audience. Her daughter, played by a young Georgia Holmes, was a match made in heaven, both with the same sweet characters and likeable persona. Georgia played her role with great maturity and professionalism, and I am sure in a few years will be taking the title roles for Danbury Players and beyond. 

A lot of comedy was provided by Thermidor the lobster, a very charismatic and competent James Allen, wearing a brilliant red costume matching his snappy claws and Caribbean accent (though slightly travelled around some other regions!) We all enjoyed his bad fishy jokes, as did Al Pitcher who played the outrageous Dame character, Princess Persil, complete with an octopus headband and unreliable fishy tail!  Energy levels were high, jokes aplenty and innuendos suitable for the grown-ups to laugh, with confused glances from the kids.

 Ariel, played by Paris Bone, was a very naïve and likeable character, and in parallel to the Disney character, yearns to visit the land and walk on the shore, much to the concern of her mother Queen Neptuna, played with poise and regal stature by Helen Dunn. A particular highlight for me was Ariel’s rendition of ‘Somewhere That’s Green’, with adapted lyrics for the modern audience. It would have been nice to hear more of her strong singing voice, although her number ‘When I grow Up’ with the rest of the ensemble was delightful. Not an easy song to manage, particularly with such a large and young cast, but it was a real joy. 

Putting a dampener on proceedings was the evil Octavia, an octopus with a grudge, played with flair by Caroline Bradley. She played the role perfectly, with a complex and impressive costume and stage presence to match. Her hench-women Davy and Jones, played by Chloë Horrex and Alice Delf, had a wonderful eerie quality to them, aided by their green trailing costumes, simply fab hair, and their constant fluid movement throughout their performances. Both were quick to cues, reactions and made a great addition to the ensemble of evil as Octavia swept onto the stage. A highlight before the interval was ‘Put a Spell on You’, with some lovely choreography and moody looking youngsters with attitude. 

The ship deck effortlessly appeared on the stage with a large ensemble of young sailors, led by The Admiral and the Prince Finn played by Lucy Charlesworth with plenty of energy. Andy West who played The Admiral had a great stage presence, and his blossoming relationship with Princess Persil was hilarious. These two kept the romance and cringe-fest in high regard throughout, much to the dismay of the other characters. 

It is clear that the production team had put a huge amount of planning and time into the staging and costumes. They were simply outstanding, and the backdrop sets were simple enough to keep the stage clear of clutter and allowed the cast to move about freely. The props were simple and effective; noting the colour changing trident and ships wheel in particular. 

There were a couple of crackles from the microphones which were a little distracting, but predominantly were put to good use as I could hear every word in the packed hall. At times I felt the cast ran away with the script a little; maybe went slightly off book or there were improvised fill-ins as a couple of cues were delayed which added a few minutes to the running overall as pace was lost at times. 

I would also have liked a little more peril in the final scene with the confrontation between Octavia and Queen Neptuna. It is however difficult to cross over between The Little Mermaid as it’s Disney tale and write a stage version with similar, loveable and recognisable characters without entering the realms of copyright, and this was put together very well.

 The music was well chosen, and the young actors were given plenty to do, as were the more mature ensemble, guiding the group sequences and giving the audience plenty of laughs and support to the leads. This was altogether a fun, energetic and very entertaining evening, with great audience participation and delivered with great humour and energy. Danbury Players are one to watch. 

Katherine Tokley

Assistant NODA Representative

District 8

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