An under the sea, magical experience

An under the sea, magical experience
The Philippine Star

erik santosGiven the very good track record of the people at Atlantis Productions with staging musicals, there was really no question that they would be able to pull off Disney’s The Little Mermaid. Still, the results proved to be such a joyous surprise. Sweet, magical and lots of fun, the show now running at the Meralco Theater up to Dec. 11 is a total delight for kids and adults alike.

The songs that many recall from the animated film are all here. Then, there are new ones written for the stage version. It may take a while for the kiddies to relate to these but the adults will surely find lots to like in The World Above, Beyond My Wildest Dreams and If Only by The Little Mermaid played by Rachelle Ann Go; in the vampy I Want The Good Times Back and Poor Unfortunate Souls by Jinky Llamanzares as the sea witch Ursula; or in the other numbers like Human Stuff by Scuttle and the seagulls and the riotous Les Poissons by Chef Louis.
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Rachelle Ann Go and Erik Santos will make their professional musical theatre debut in The Little Mermaid

Rachelle Ann Go and Erik Santos will make their professional musical theatre debut in The Little Mermaid
November 25, 2011

erik santos
Rachelle Ann Go and Erik Santos portray Ariel and the Prince in The Little Mermaid. This musical will be staged at the Meralco Theatre from November 18 – December 11, 2011.


Explore the depths of love through Disney’s The Little Mermaid, which will be staged at the Meralco Theatre from November 18 – December 11, 2011.

Atlantis Productions and Metrobank present this latest Disney musical, which is based on the animated film of 1989 with the same title.

In a magical kingdom beneath the sea, a beautiful young mermaid named Ariel longs to leave her ocean home to live in the world above. But first, she’ll have to defy her father–the king of the sea–to escape the clutches of an evil sea witch and convince a prince that she’s the girl with the perfect voice.
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Disney’s THE LITTLE MERMAID Opens in Manila

Photo Flash: Disney’s THE LITTLE MERMAID Opens in Manila
Thursday, November 24, 2011; Posted: 05:11 PM
Broadway – by Oliver Oliveros

erik santosNew York, November 24, 2011 — Manila-based theater company Atlantis Productions Inc.’s Asian premiere of Disney’s The Little Mermaid could have been a spectacular float addition in today’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in Times Square.

One shouldn’t wonder at Atlantis’ Disneyesque feat because The Little Mermaid’s co-director, Bobby Garcia (the other director is Chari Arespacochaga), happened to work at Disneyland Hong Kong as its entertainment director when the theme park opened in 2005. Needless to say, working on Disney theatrical materials is second nature to Garcia by now.

The original Broadway production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid, based on the 1989 2D animated film, which boasts the popular songs “Part of Your World,” “Under the Sea,” and “Kiss the Girl,” created by Alan Menken and the late Howard Ashman, opened at Lunt-Fontane Theatre in 2008 and ran nearly 700 regular performances. Additional 10 songs, co-written by Menken and Glenn Slater, and a book by Tony Award-winning playwright Doug Wright have been incorporated into the stage adaptation, which garnered generally mixed reviews from critics.
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Little Mermaid’s many more lives to live

Little Mermaid’s many more lives to live
By Bibsy M. Carballo
The Philippine Star
November 25, 2011

MANILA, Philippines – Despite having grown up with Disney characters Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Mickey Mouse, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh, Lion King, the Princess and the Frog all associated with Disney in one way or another, we had by some quirk of fate never been exposed to the delightful story of Disney’s The Little Mermaid. We were, therefore, entering an unfamiliar territory watching Atlantis Productions’ version of it at the Meralco Theatre until Dec. 11.

Directed by Bobby Garcia and Chari Arespacochaga, the production is said to be among the first stagings of the musical since its Broadway run in 2008. Bobby says they decided to stage The Little Mermaid over a year ago when informed that rights would be made available to Atlantis. Based on Disney’s animated film, in turn based on Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale, it tells of mermaid Rachelle Ann Go as Ariel willing to give up her life under the sea to gain the love of a human Prince Eric played by Erik Santos. The Atlantis version has utilized traditional Asian design elements in the Undersea, and Western design in the World Above.

The musical opens with Prince Eric on a ship, and Mermaid Rachelle Ann spending time in (The World Above) instead of the undersea celebration of dad Calvin Millado as King Triton who had defeated evil sister Ursula, amazingly played by Jinky Llamanzares.

Act 1 deals with Rachelle’s fascination with the human world (Part of your World), as she falls for Erik whom she saves after his ship crashes, and gives up her voice to Jinky (Poor Unfortunate Souls) for three days as a human. In Act 2, Rachelle is palace guest of Erik (Beyond my Wildest Dreams) but he must kiss her before she regains her voice. Erik is attracted to this mute girl and teaches her to dance (One Step Closer), but haunted by the voice he heard after his shipwreck and swears he must find her. In the end, they rediscover each other, Jinky is destroyed after Calvin offers himself in Rachelle’s place, and Calvin lets his daughter go to her new life as a human (Finale).

The musical is most engaging and while Jinky is the crowd favorite, the kids in the audience love the puppets and undersea creatures (Under the Sea), and one of our favorites is Chef Louis portrayed by Julienne Mendoza (Les Poissons).

We are especially interested in the character of Calvin as the King of the Undersea. He mentions something about remembering her mother to Rachelle when speaking of his distrust of humans. We searched for explanations on the Internet and found it in a prequel released by Disney in 2008 titled The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning when Ariel, the Mermaid spent happy times with her mom Queen Athena who was kidnapped by pirates, after which the King banned all music or mention of humans from his kingdom. We would have wanted a song from Calvin reminiscing happy times. That would explain his bitterness and strictness with his daughter. It would make his sacrifice of taking Rachelle’s place even more admirable, and his love for his daughter priceless when he gives permission for her to marry a human.

We think of Erik and Rachelle Ann, champions in mainstream music competitions, who are into their first theatrical roles. We admire their guts and gumption as well as that of producer director Bobby Garcia for putting his reputation on the line. “No problem at all with schedules,” Bobby clarifies. “We made it clear from the beginning that we don’t allow absences or tardiness. Both Rachelle Ann and Erik have been real pros. They are always early. Never missed a rehearsal. And always prepared. They have worked so hard on the show and I am so proud of their performances.”

Of course, the two newcomers have much to learn from their co-stars. They obviously have the vocal instruments for theater and initial feedback from co-workers indicate that they are fast learners with the interest and humility to work on in-depth understanding of their roles.

In 1989, the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale was adapted into an animated film by the Walt Disney studio called The Little Mermaid. The film is credited for breathing life back into animated feature films, and marked the start of an era known as the Disney Renaissance. Meantime, Beauty and the Beast, another animated Disney film was released in 1991 based on a French fairy tale of a prince transformed into a Beast who must win the love of a Beauty named Belle, or will remain a Beast forever. The music of the film was composed by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, both of whom had written the music and songs for Disney’s The Little Mermaid.
erik santosLater, Disney experienced the difficulty of having had to open these two commercial and critical Disney properties on Broadway at the same time that would divide audiences and cause competition between the two shows. They solved it by officially opening running Beauty and the Beast from 1994 and 2007 for 5,464 performances to become Broadway’s eighth-longest running production in history. The Little Mermaid subsequently opened on Broadway January 2008 closing August 2009 after 685 performances and 50 previews.

The Little Mermaid is one of the most popular stories transposed into various forms. Among them are an opera with music by Dvorak performed in Prague; a French three-act opera version called La Petite Sirene; an American Classics Illustrated Junior comic book series published in 1950; a TV version starring Shirley Temple as the Mermaid; a 1966 animated movie with Hans Christian Andersen played by Paul O’Keefe, and the voices of Burl Ives as Father Neptune, Hayley Mills as The Little Mermaid and Tallulah Bankhead as the Sea Witch; even a song called Little Mermaid in the repertoire of the Japanese Jazz-Fusion Band The Square. Animé adaptations are also found in Russia, Japan and the NHK 1991 TV series Saban’s Adventures of the Little Mermaid.

As The Little Mermaid continues its conquest of different mediums, we are most certain it will have more lives to live.

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Disney’s Little Mermaid Flips Fins in Manila

PHOTO CALL: Disney’s Little Mermaid Flips Fins in Manila
By Matthew Blank
23 Nov 2011

The Manila production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid takes a new approach to the musical, incorporating Eastern and Western styles of design and puppetry to delineate its unique worlds.

Bobby Garcia, who has staged Next to Normal, Xanadu and Avenue Q for Atlantis Productions, directs The Little Mermaid alongside Chari Arespacochaga. The production will run Nov. 18-Dec. 11 at the Meralco Theatre.

Here is a look at the production:

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Under the spell of ‘Little Mermaid’

Under the spell of ‘Little Mermaid’
By: Lea Salonga
Philippine Daily Inquirer
November 23, 2011 | 7:08 pm

erik santosI brought Nicole out for a mommy-daughter date to the theater last Friday, the opening night of Atlantis Productions’ mounting of Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” at the Meralco Theater.

All of us in the family have seen the Disney film on which the stage version was based. But we haven’t seen the stage production, so I jumped at this opportunity.

From the moment the music played (under the excellent musical direction of Ceejay Javier), we were magically transported to this kingdom under the sea.

The plot is similar to that of the movie, besides moments that would have been impossible to stage (there is no shark chase here, nor is there a gigantic Ursula).

New songs by composer Alan Menken and lyricist Glenn Slater (the same team behind “Tangled and Sister Act: The Musical”) were added, which seemed to blend seamlessly enough with the original tunes from the film.

This stage version stars Rachelle Ann Go as Ariel, Erik Santos as Prince Eric, Jinky Llamanzares as Ursula, OJ Mariano as Sebastian, Calvin Millado as King Triton, Ikey Canoy as Scuttle, Felix Rivera as Flotsam, Jamie Barcelon as Jetsam and Raymond Concepcion as Grimsby.
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Singing champions Rachelle Ann Go and Erik Santos debut in professional theater

GOTCHA By Jarius Bondoc
The Philippine Star
November 21, 2011

Last weekend I found myself, like my nieces and nephews, thoroughly enjoying The Little Mermaid at the Meralco Theater, Pasig. Everything about it — choreography, singing, acting, dialogues, plot and sub-plots, orchestra, sets, costumes, props, special effects, lights — made for great musicale. After presenting recently Next to Normal, Aida and In the Heights, Bobby Garcia and Chari Arespacochaga’s Atlantis Productions does it again.

The Manila staging of Hans Christian Andersen’s classic, as an off-Broadway version of Disney’s hit, runs till Dec. 11. Kids, bring your olds. Singing champions Rachelle Ann Go and Erik Santos debut in professional theater as Ariel and Prince Eric. Watch out too for the performances of stage veterans Calvin Millado as King Triton, Jinky Llamanzares as Ursula, and (my, ehem, inaanak) OJ Mariano as Sebastian.

For inquiries call (02) 8927978, 8401187, or visit