By Lynn Hodge
Special to The Record
“Magical, simply magical,” says director Brian Mather of Courtenay Little Theatre’s (CLT) Christmas production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid, which runs at the Sid Williams Theatre December 21st to 31st.
This Disney musical is anything but simple. With a production crew of over 50 people, Mather is transforming the stage, with the help of talented set designer Jay Crowder, into an unbelievable undersea world. Costume designer Marsha McGregor will astound audiences with her creativity and colour. Musical director Denise Marquette nurtures singers to lyrical heights and conducts the 12-piece orchestra to note perfection. Ashley Schmidt has choreographed the large and small group dance numbers with tapping precision and balletic joy.
And who has risen to the challenge of playing one of Disney’s most memorable characters, the mermaid Ariel? A well known local actor, 20-year-old Sienna Orbell, whom you may remember as Belle in Rainbow Youth Theatre’s 2015 Beauty and the Beast. With over 20 productions to her credit, including shows with CYMC, TheatreWorks, SD 63, and a semi-professional troupe in Vancouver, Orbell embodies Ariel. She will delight family audiences and believes that younger members will learn what Ariel discovers.
“Take a leap of faith and follow your heart. It’s okay to not know the right path to follow,” says Orbell.
Ariel’s nemesis is the sea witch Ursula, played by 27-year-old Allyson Leet. With her background in musical theatre, a BFA in theatre from UVic, and a diploma from Vancouver Film School, Leet’s talents shine as she plays the villain. Here the musical version differs from the Disney movie as we learn more about Ursula and her motivations to help Ariel. Leet is loving the dramatic, over-the-top character.
One of the younger, but no less experienced, actors is 13-year-old Celie Lacasse, who has been performing since the age of five. Lacasse plays Flounder, Ariel’s beloved fish friend who is always trying to smooth the waters, so to speak.
“This show is so entertaining – it’s a wicked play!” said Lacasse.
A newcomer to the CLT family is Halle Weyler, 22, from Campbell River. She is reveling in playing Scuttle, a ridiculous goofy seagull. Weyler has energy to spare and is not afraid of being absurd. She brings Scuttle to life and invites theatregoers to enjoy the fun nostalgia of this classic story brought to life on stage.
With the other main characters of Sebastian (Adelie Simson), Prince Eric (Cedar Hilberry), Chef Louis (Darryl Craig), and King Triton (Ian Langman) and a large ensemble, the story is shared and lessons are learned.
As Triton so aptly sings, “Fathers have to learn that daughters have to grow.”
Mather knows how to entertain families, having recently brought us Anne of Green Gables. He encourages families to bring the little ones to be amazed by live theatre. As an added bonus, Mather has donated a special mermaid tail blanket for a draw for children 12 years and under who come dressed in their favourite costume.
The Little Mermaid is a love story on so many levels and for all ages. Ariel is looking for acceptance and her father only wants to protect her. We are all driven to fight for our personal freedom in potentially dangerous ways. Love and strength of commitment win the day.
Be sure to get your tickets early for this CLT Christmas production of Disney’s Little Mermaid which opens at the Sid Williams Theatre Dec. 21 for four matinees (Dec. 22, 23, 28, and 29 at 2 p.m.) and four evening shows (Dec. 21, 27, 30, and 31 at 7:30 p.m.). Tickets range from $26 for groups of six or more, to $28 for matinées and $30 for evenings (with all service charges included in the ticket price). The Sid box office will be open during the run two hours in advance of each performance or you can order and print your own tickets online 24/7 at www.sidwilliamstheatre.com
These are great Christmas gifts for the whole family!