When Hans Christian Anderson first penned this story, he would have had no idea of the spin offs made into plays and movies that would occur so many years later. The Disney film, the music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman & Glen Slater and the book by Doug Wright have all been successful leading into this offering from the Balaklava Community Arts under the direction of Abby Silverman. This perennial love story between a mermaid and a prince when produced as a musical requires an orchestra able to produce the many and varied pieces some of which are well known and others not so much. The sound is made by the eighteen musicians presented as the ‘Under-the sea Crustacean Band’. They opened proceedings with a rousing introduction which echoed throughout the venue and set the tone for the entire play. The musical director, Heidi Zerk managed to have the twenty six musical numbers delivered with the professionalism that far exceeded the expectations of an amateur theatre group.
Alicia Hancock has the role of the leading lady Ariel who is the youngest of the sisters of King Triton. She wants to experience things other than life in the sea. Alicia revels in this role and her solos plus the acting when given wobbly legs for the first time enhanced her role.
The role of King Triton was perfectly portrayed by Tim Heslop. His voice control when giving forth a roaring rebuke or singing with recognizable light and shade added to his stage presence and left no doubt that he is the King.
The mean part of the story is portrayed by Sandy Wandel as Ursula the sister of the king. She has been banished and tries to mislead Ariel with promises that are almost impossible to keep. Sandy’s experience in musicals come to the fore with her powerful singing and deceitful stage mannerisms that suit this role to a tee.
Ariel’s love interest comes in the form of Zach Baseby in the role of Prince Eric. He is given the opportunity to display his extensive vocal talent including his duets with Ariel in their love scenes.
The Character of Flounder admirably played by Melanie Cavanagh showed her many talents as she flits on and off the stage as Ariel’s best friend. There is no doubt Melanie will be a force to be reckoned with in future amateur or professional productions.
There is not a weak link in the twenty five member cast but a stand out is Lachlan Gaze as Sebastian the Crustacean. His actions when given the task of protecting Ariel or leading the chorus in singing enables him to show all his many talents.
The only minor problem that I thought was the orchestra although magnificent overshadowed some of the solo performances. This was not a problem when the chorus or the entire cast were singing.
The show is further enhanced by the choreography of Jemma Hill, the teams involved with the costumes, sets, lighting, props and all the production team that makes this production a must see for any theatre lover. This is the first time that I have had the pleasure of seeing BCA in action but it will not be the last.