This production had dual casts in principal roles. In the interests of fairness to all, TASA reviewed both casts. David Evans reviewed the Gadgets cast and Terry Mountstephen reviewed the Gizmos cast.
Gadgets Cast – David Evans
Disney’s The Little Mermaid has been produced in various forms as a movie and stage show. The story is basically the same and the production by Adelaide Theatre Academy & Theatre Bugs has retained all the positives with brilliant staging highlighted by the back lighting projection and clever set changes.
The music by Alan Menken with lyrics by Howard Ashman & Glenn Slater lift the story from the book by Doug Wright. The play is brought to life with a production crew headed by the Director Billie-Rose Russell, Choreography by Emma Dalton and the Musical Director Nikki Long. There is no doubting the ability of these very talented people when you consider they had to bring two separate casts to the stage.
The Gadgets cast opened the show with a rousing start and clever choreography that set the tone for the entire performance. The cast was headed by Amelia Boys as Ariel. Her performance did not lose any credibility from her first on stage appearance to the finale, her singing rounded out a wonderful performance.
There was not a weak link in the large cast. Some standouts were Bennett Blaine as Ursula, Tom Tirrell as Prince Eric, Christopher Murrell as King Triton and the two friends of Ariel, Flounder played by Daniela Gareyeva and Sebastian the crustacean played by Tilka Wheal.
The solo singing performances were solid and when added to by the chorus the audience had their feet tapping. This audience created a full house with the majority being of pre or primary school age. With some of the commentary overheard it was their first live show ever and they were in awe of what they were witnessing.
The sets were designed and constructed by a team with items donated by family and friends. All items were recyclable. The lighting by Harry Fergusson added significantly to the show as did the sound operator Ben Sweeney who ensured all the voices on stage could be heard. Another feature was the many outstanding costumes made possible by the work of Sharon Malujlo.
The Goodwood Theatre was the perfect venue for this show with the raked seating allowing a clear view for all the audience no matter their age or size.
Theatre Bugs and Adelaide Theatre Academy are winners once again.
Gizmos Cast – Terry Mountstephen
The production of “Little Mermaid Jr” was an absolute delight and congratulations are in order for the entire production team, and in particular, Director Billie-Rose Russell, Choreographer Emma Dalton, and Musical Director Nikki Long. Their dedication and hard work were evident in the polished and enjoyable performance presented by the Gizmos Cast.
Ariel, portrayed by Clare Wilks, delivered beautiful, clear notes and maintained excellent diction while singing. She showcased vocal dynamics and variation through her singing. Her expressions were a standout, conveying a wide range of emotions throughout the performance. The interaction and the development of the love interest between Ariel and Prince Eric (Tom Tirrell) were genuinely conveyed, a challenge even for many adult performers. Both actors brought sincerity and authenticity to their roles.
Emma Palumbo’s portrayal of Ursula was characterised by elegance and an enchanting voice. Her performance left the audience looking forward to seeing her in future productions. Claire Saint, as Flounder, shone with her beautiful singing and acting. Her constant “fin” movements added a delightful touch to her performance. Abby Hall, in the role of Sebastian, exhibited good characterisation and delivered a delightful rendition of “Kiss the Girl”.
Ariel’s sisters, portrayed by Charlotte Delaere, Abby Venning, Emma Sayers, Amelie Heyer, Amber Curiel and Charlotte Venning, displayed lovely harmonies and executed their choreography with precision. Their expressive faces illuminated the stage.
The portrayal of the first storm scene was particularly noteworthy. The sailors, Prince, and Grimsby (Thomas Wake-Dyster) authentically conveyed the struggle of maintaining their footing amidst the tempestuous weather, entirely immersing the audience in the scene.
A highlight of the evening was Lachlan Anderson’s performance as the head chef, which had the audience in fits of laughter. His commitment to the character, evident in both his singing and dialogue, was truly remarkable.
There were many wonderful performances by other members of the ensemble cast – too many to mention individually. It was a pleasure to witness each member thoroughly immersed in the production, maintaining their high energy and enthusiasm throughout their time on stage.
The laughter and appreciation of the audience, especially the delight and excitement of younger audience members, showcased the show’s undeniable charm. While there were one or two pitch discrepancies in solos, the singing, dancing, and acting were executed well. The ensemble numbers were brimming with enthusiasm and verve.
In conclusion, the Gizmos Cast delivered an enchanting and energetic performance that left a lasting impression. These young peformers demonstrated immense talent and promise, ensuring a bright future for the next generation of entertainers. Their dedication and enthusiasm on stage were truly contagious, making this production a memorable experience for all in attendance.