Little Mermaid makes a splash on CenterStage

Ariel (Emily Vergason) struts her stuff beneath the sea as the rest of the aquatic life join the fun in the CenterStage production of The Little Mermaid. (Community photo by
Tara Cocco)

The Little Mermaid, the final production in CenterStage’s main stage season, opened Thursday, April 12, to a packed audience.
For fans of the 1989 Disney animated film, and even those who are unfamiliar with the movie, the production instantly transported them under the sea from the first note of the overture.
Emily Vergason is lovely in the title role of Ariel, which according to the program, fulfilled her lifelong dream of becoming a Disney princess. Her performance portrayed the right balance of charm and stubbornness fans would expect out of any Disney princess.
Unlike the rather one-dimensional Disney princes portrayed in the films, Landon Sholar brings Prince Eric to life with pizzazz, aptly portraying Eric’s inner conflict in pursuing Ariel. Whenever Sholar steps on stage, he commands the audience’s attention and all but steals the scene.
All the salty flavor one would expect out of a music-conducting crab tasked with keeping an eye on Ariel is brought to life by Frank Goodloe III. He particularly shines when leading the ensemble in “Under the Sea” and “Kiss the Girl”, the show’s biggest numbers showcasing the choreography of Sandra Rivera.
Last, but certainly not least, is Tamika McDonald’s portrayal as the evil sea witch, Ursula. The casting for this role could not have been better. From the moment McDonald slithered onto the stage shaking her octopus tentacles, her commanding presence won over the audience. She channeled Ursula’s devilish evilness perfectly, yet it did not make her so scary as to frighten the young audience members.
As for the scenery, it is beautiful, especially when re-creating an underwater atmosphere.
CenterStage brilliantly sells bubble guns for $5 in the lobby before the show to encourage audience participation and help the audience really feel as if they dove beneath the surface to an underwater kingdom. Combined with the lighting and costuming, this show is a colorfully visual masterpiece the entire family will enjoy.

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