The Little Mermaid – Coasters Musical Theatre – ‘a delight’

George Smith (AKA Alphonse Montlebarn) seen this week at the Coastlands Aquatic Centre
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Reviewed by Andrew London

I’m pretty sure old Sir Len was smiling down on Southwards last night when Coasters Musical Theatre’s production of Disney’s oceanic juggernaut ‘The Little Mermaid’ opened to a supportive and enthusiastic crowd. What a testament – an all-but full house of local folks enjoying a spectacular show on a cold mid-week night, leaving with smiles and great tunes stuck in their ears.

Kyra Basabas, as Ariel, led a cast of delightful and engaging leads, all obviously solid and accomplished performers, with Sera Devcich’s evil Ursula standing out. A commanding presence in every scene, her vocal prowess was impressive as she oozed menace and darkness around an otherwise Barbie-esque set and cast of characters.

Mind you, she had some good back-up. Xandy Julian and Jesse Pollard-Simmiss were nastily slimy as her hench-eels Flotsam and Jetsam, wriggling mischievously around the stage looking like they were born to slither.

The most memorable scenes were the comic ones – Robert Arnold’s excellent seagull Scuttle was a hoot (or a strangled squawk), especially when hilariously leading a flock of fellow-gulls in the lively tap-dance number ‘Positoovity’. Similarly, Kate Mountcastle’s Chef Louis character approached a Hannibal Lechter level of psychopathy when chopping up some of Ariel’s fellow sea-dwellers for the evening banquet.

It’s a rollicking ride from start to finish; the digital backdrop and soundtrack ensure continuity and a faultless audio-visual experience augmented, in this case, by top-class vocal skills, skilfully wrangled by musical director Ingrid Corby who occasionally had as many as four leads performing complex lines and counter-melodies in ensemble pieces.

Creative set-design from Ben Wakefield, and Mary Estall’s stunning costumes were an outstanding visual treat. Credit must go to Linda Buckley for directing a show with such pace and tightness, similarly Rachel Wilson for the demanding choreography.

I missed the movie for some reason as a parent of little kids, but mine must have seen it. My 21-year accompanied me to this show and loved every minute of it – laughing and singing along all the way through. So take your big kids as well as your little ones.

For tickets and show times see: https://www.trybooking.com/nz/events/landing/8357