Detail of an illustration for Cocoa Village Playhouse’s “The Little Mermaid” starring Leyla Corbett (Ursula) and Dominique Solano (Ariel)
By KEENAN CARVER, Brevard Culture Theater Critic
Showcasing an impressive ensemble and delightful technical elements, Cocoa Village Playhouse takes their patrons underwater to discover an adventure like none other.
Indeed. For a mermaid wanting to explore the human world with her own two feet, following an unfortunate accident, CVP’s Ariel will have to roll her way through it.
During the last few rehearsals, lead actress Dominique Solano broke her foot– in two places. Yet, the production team and this extraordinary cast came together, rallied around their star, and gave the audience a unique theatrical experience.
The remedy to a nightmare gives this audience the perfect opportunity to be a part of a unique fairy tale. Since her foot is in a color-coordinated cast boot, she mobilizes herself on stage by using a decorated knee scooter, fit only for a mermaid princess to glide and roll on. Though it must have been a headache of a problem to get through, CVP’s solution is fitting and adds to Solano’s charm.
Based on the Hans Christian Andersen story and the 1989 Disney film, the 2007 stage musical has book by Doug Wright, music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater.
It tells the story of a young mermaid princess making a bad deal with her evil aunt in order to meet and fall in love with a human prince. And, like Disney’s previous animated movie to stage success, including “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Lion King,” it has become a theatrical phenom — popular for kids and grown-up-kids excited to see life under the sea.
Sweet and naïve, Salano’s angelic voice is worthy of being stolen. Who would not want to keep a voice like that?
Leyla Corbett as the villainous Ursula surely would. Area theater patrons may know Corbett from her romantic leads, including as the meek Aubrey from Titusville Playhouse’s “Little Shop Of Horrors.” But here, she tackles the cynical Ursula, and shows weighty power in the strong number “Poor Unfortunate Souls.”
As Prince Eric, Jack Ginn delivers an enjoyable performance and exudes star power in what could easily be a colorless role. A young actor, Ginn shows promise as a future leading man in the area.
Kids will love the spectacle of costume, stage makeup, fun music, and the cast of astonishing players this production has to offer.
CVP and scenic designer Joseph Lark-Riley were able to pull some tricks out of their bag for this show. Technical elements explode on the stage, sometimes literally. An impressive fly effect system was choreographed into the show to swim Ariel and King Triton (Edwin Hill) around, and fly the hilarious Scuttle (Jason Carl Crase) in the sky for certain magical moments.
In all, the audience loved “The Little Mermaid”. A child exclaimed “Mommy! That was the coolest thing ever!” I could not agree more. It is a family oriented show with enough razzle-dazzle to keep you and your children thoroughly entertained. The show runs only one more weekend ending October 7th.
SIDE O’ GRITS: “The LIttle Mermaid” runs through Oct. 7 at Cocoa Village Playhouse, 300 Brevard Ave., Cocoa. Tickets are $18 to $26. Call 321-636-5050, click on their ad or visit CocoaVillagePlayhouse.com.