Truth be told, when I was presented with the opportunity to attend the CharacterWorks production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid, I was beyond excited. For several years, my 9-year-old son and I have gone on many special date nights together to theatrical productions across Richmond. Of the countless we have attended, our favorite performances are always CharacterWorks shows. That being said, our expectations were high before arriving, and let me say, we were not disappointed.
We brought along my husband and 10-year-old son with us to the performance. As some can imagine, not all of my male-dominated group were excited to attend what they referred to as a “Disney Princess show.” However, within less than ten minutes, they were captivated and I even caught their heads bopping to the rhythm of the songs. We all left marveling at the phenomenal voices, vibrant costumes and magnificent performances we just saw. This was definitely a show that would be enjoyed by males and females of all ages.
The performance we attended was the opening night production which we learned was also the twenty-eighth anniversary of the release of Disney’s The Little Mermaid on November 17, 1989. Under the leadership of Director Brooke Abrahamsen, CharacterWorks flawlessly brought this well-loved animated story to vibrant life on stage. Throughout the production, we were transformed between land and magical sea. The set often exhibited the illusion of being underwater through the clever use of special effects including lighting, smoke, set design and dazzling costumes.
The Little Mermaid is a story about Ariel, a mermaid who struggles to fit in to her underwater world. She falls in love with Prince Eric, a human, after mischievously venturing to the forbidden surface. She trades her voice and potentially her soul to Ursula, the evil sea witch, for human legs and a chance to be with her prince. However, things take a bad turn and her father, King Triton must come to her rescue, while learning life lessons himself.
The production was filled with a stellar cast of flamboyant characters including sea creatures, sailors, mermaids and princesses, maids, chefs, and courtiers with integral roles to the production. The level of performance of these students was akin to Broadway pros. The main character, Ariel, was performed by Harper Mugford, a 16-year-old eleventh grader who attends St. Gertrude High School. Mugford played the part of Ariel with the perfect combination of poise and silliness. Her beautiful voice and sparkling personality lead the audience through an artful adventure revealing her character’s tenacious spirit and tender heart. Ursula, played by Giselle Watts, a 16-year-old eleventh grader attending Liberty University Online Academy gave a powerful performance, showcasing her magnificent voice. Watts transformed Ursula into a glamorously wicked character whose vocal strength and confidence sent audiences into applause each time she sang. We remained captivated by the spectacular singing and dancing throughout the entire show.
As always, CharacterWorks left us in awe, showcasing the talent of its all-star cast, and The Little Mermaid would make a fantastic theatre experience for family and friends over Thanksgiving weekend. Visit CharacterWorks for showtimes and tickets.