The Little Mermaid is almost here
The Philippine Star
November 04, 2011 12:00
Only a few days more and we will finally be able to experience the magic of the Disney musical, The Little Mermaid. Atlantis Productions ends its critically-acclaimed 2011 season with this wonderful presentation at the Meralco Theater starting on Nov. 18 and running up to Dec. 11. Atlantis came up with a lot of notable shows this year, among them Next To Normal, Aida and In the Heights. But The Little Mermaid, directed by Bobby Garcia and Chari Arespacochaga, is shaping up to be the biggest of them all.
First reason is Atlantis’ reputation as a reliable production outfit. One is never disappointed with Atlantis. Going to their shows is just like watching something on Broadway or the West End. Audiences are assured they will get a good quality production. Then those who recall their Beauty And The Beast a few years back with KC Concepcion in the lead, know that they have the Disney aesthetic down pat. They can expect the same with this one. In fact, Bobby and Chari even took up Asian puppetry workshops in Hawaii to help them create many of the sea creatures. The musical will be a blend of Asian and Western themes using a lot of puppetry. The kids will love these.
Next is the cast and The Little Mermaid has a very good one of familiar and also reliable stage performers. Jinky Llamanzares is the evil octopus Ursula; OJ Mariano is Sebastian, the Crab; Calvin Millado is King Triton; Lee Viloria is Flounder; Ikey Canoy is Scuttle; Felix Rivera as Flotsam; Jamie Barcelon is Jetsam; and Raymond Concepcion is Grimsby. And making their stage debuts in the musical are singing champions Rachelle Ann Go and Eric Santos playing the lead roles of mermaid Ariel and Prince Eric.
While those two lack acting experience, they are turning out to be naturals and Garcia is very happy to have them in his cast. “I have known Eric since he started his career,” he says of his Prince. “Eric has an incredible singing voice that truthfully conveys Prince Eric’s longing and passion.” Garcia is also all praises for Rachelle Ann. “She is a fantastic Ariel. Having worked with her for three weeks now, we can’t imagine anyone else playing the role. She is spunky, adventurous, kind, generous and a dreamer. She also has one of the most beautiful voices we have heard. She is a true Disney Princess. We are sure she will thrill audiences the way she has been thrilling us at rehearsals.”
Joining a list of Tony-nominated actresses who have done Ariel and being the first from the Philippines and if I am not mistaken, also in Southeast Asia must be daunting for Rachelle Ann. But this girl is a hard worker who rises up to challenges, so I am sure she will be at her best. Besides, she already has the two most important qualities of an Ariel. First, she looks like the Disney Princess. Check out those posters and her photos. She gets to look more and more like Ariel with each new one. And second, she sounds like Ariel. Those who only know Rachelle Ann from her TV performances will be astonished by her voice. Check out her beautiful version of Part Of Your World in her latest album Unbreakable for proof of what I am talking about.
Part Of Your World is but one of several memorable songs in The Little Mermaid. There are also Kiss The Girl and the Best Song Academy Award winner Under The Sea. I am curious to find out what OJ will do with these two. There are also songs we will hear for the first time because they were composed for the stage musical and were not included in the animated film we are familiar with. I am sure Rachelle Ann will also soar with The World Alone, Beyond My Wildest Dreams and If Only. All these will be performed by the cast backed with a full orchestra led by musical director Ceejay Javier.
The Little Mermaid is based on a story by the Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen in 1836. It is so well-loved that a statue of The Little Mermaid is one of the famous landmarks in the entrance to the capital city of Copenhagen. As with most of his other tales, The Red Shoes, The Little Match Girl, The Steadfast Tin Soldier, The Little Mermaid has a sad ending. She did not get the prince and was turned into foam. It took Disney tooling 150 years later to create Ariel and company and to make it a suitable fairytale for children. And this Disney version is what kids will surely adore when they come to watch at the Meralco Theater. Don’t miss this one.