I don’t remember the last time I watched Disney’s “The Little Mermaid.” I grew up with a younger sister, so I’m sure it was on more than I realize. But I was excited to see the musical version at Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre in May because of some of the iconic Disney songs — “Under the Sea” and “Part of Your World” come to mind. I was humming what I could remember of those songs before the show, and I’ve kept humming them since I left.
Sarah Daniels (Ariel) delivered a great performance. How she kept her singing voice from shaking as she was suspended over the audience to simulate swimming to the surface was beyond me. Her voice does get a break when the sea witch coerces her into giving it up in exchange for becoming human, but even those scenes required superb acting as she silently rode the emotions of love and defeat.
Speaking of the sea witch, Kelly Teal Goyette (Ursula) had the best voice in the cast, especially in those songs where she had to convey her ill intentions through dramatic changes to her pitch.
To give you an idea of how unfamiliar I was with “The Little Mermaid” before catching this show, I had no idea Sebastian was a crab until it came up in someone’s line. I’m telling you, it had been a while.
For much of the show, I watched this story unfold without the benefit of knowing for sure what was coming next. There was a genuine suspense at some points, and I think that may have actually been for the better. If you take your family, I would recommend avoiding the refresher before you go. Let it come back to you instead, and freely journey with the story arch like you used to.
As a final testament to the strength of the show, I gave it the ultimate test: a 3-year-old. (Children under 3 won’t be admitted to the show.) She was always concerned about Ariel, took a liking to Ursula’s big hair and said Sebastian was her favorite. She gasped and jumped and clapped. She was, in a word, captivated. If a live show can do that for a 3-year-old, it’s probably worth your time.
“The Little Mermaid” will show at Beef and Boards through June 30. Tickets range from $45 to $70, and children ages 3-15 can get a $10 Family Show discount. Tickets include a family-friendly buffet with unlimited tea, coffee and lemonade. For reservations, call the box office at 317-872-9664 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays. Visit beefandboards.com for the show schedule.
Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.