Printable CopyView ShowTHE LITTLE MERMAID
Northern Light Theatre Company
Shedley Theatre
Until 23 Oct 2021

Review by Doug Phillips

A well-loved Disney classic has been lovingly brought to life on the Shedley stage by Northern Light Theatre Company in their current production of “The Little Mermaid”. A solid blockbuster when it was first released as an animated film in 1989, it’s remained a favourite amongst kids – and kids who became adults. NLTC has recreated the joy with this clever and fun production.

Most of us require no introduction to the movie. Based on Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale of the same name, it’s the story of desperate hearts, evil villains, and – in Disney’s version – very entertaining side characters. Damon Hill’s interpretation is fairly faithful to the animated movie, and his Direction is ‘nice’ and fun.

This show is very well cast, and all players seem confident and comfortable in their parts. The ensemble is made up of performers who understand the adage “There are no small roles…”, and our leads are all competent and talented. There was the occasional lacklustre singing moment, but these were insignificant really.

Deon Martino-Williams is excellent as Prince Eric, with a great voice and good stage presence. Melanie Cowmeadow (reasonably new to musical theatre) gives a near-perfect performance, and is Ariel to a tee (with an outstanding wig). However, they’re both outshone by Kristian Latella as Sebastian, who easily has the most fun role, and lines.

Then there’s the French Chef, Louis, who as played by Stephen Tulip, steals the second act with his hilarious facial expressions, body language, and accent. In my opinion, Tulip’s Chef Louis is the standout moment in the show, and judging by the audience reaction, I’m not alone in that view.

Harry Ince is loveable and amusing as Flounder, and Steve Mulady plays the royal authoritarian, King Triton, with ease. Michelle Davy’s Scuttle provides many of the laughs, as well as a tap routine that can’t be easy while dressed as a seagull.

Special mention must be made of Karen Muller, who I understand stepped into the role of Ursula without a great deal of rehearsal time before opening night. I was expecting a slightly shaky performance from someone who probably didn’t know their role inside-out, but I was happily wrong.

Despite some minor hiccups in the overture, the orchestra sounded beautiful throughout. Those familiar with Ann Humphries’ costume work would have held high expectations, and were not disappointed.

What set there was was well crafted, but felt slightly lacking in a theatre with the potential of The Shedley. The audio appeared faultless, and Chris Golding’s lighting design is excellent. The audience easily felt the difference between the above-sea and below-sea scenes.

A good, solid production, with great characters, lots of laughs, and a good, fun feel.