As a self-confessed Disney fanatic, I was delighted to be given the chance last week to see Curtain Up Theatre School’s production of The Little Mermaid Junior, performed at The Mission Theatre in Bath.
Based on the classic tale by Hans Christian Anderson, with music from the original Disney film, this show tells the story of mermaid Princess Ariel, and her quest to discover life and love beyond the shores of her underwater home. And what a story this cast of 44 young actors and actresses, aged between 7 and 12 years old told!
From the first note to the last, the energy and enthusiasm of every child on stage shone through. Dressed in wonderfully creative and top quality costumes, the audience was treated to a whole host of all-singing, all-dancing mermaids, jellyfish, seagulls, crabs, eels and human friends, each of whom gave their all. The singing throughout was strong, tuneful and displayed great diction, meaning not a word of the clever lyrics was lost. Accompanied by fun and slick choreography, the stage truly came to life during the big chorus numbers, including ‘Human Stuff’ and audience favourite ‘Under the Sea’.
As the icing on the cake of the strong chorus, there were some fantastic stand-out performances from the lead characters. With her beautiful voice and touching acting, 11 year old Grace Reynolds-Buckton made the perfect Princess Ariel as we rooted for her to win her prince, played very ably by Ed Haskew. Grace was joined by a team of talented friends in her journey – Gemma Tucker (Flounder), Nem Bengry-Howell (Sebastian) and Ollie Cochran (Scuttle), all of whom played their roles with great humour and strong characterisation.
To balance out the sweet and charming heroes of the tale, Anya Hathaway played a wonderfully evil Ursula, showing great maturity in the use of her strong and deep voice in both her acting and her singing. And totally unforgettable was the fabulous Matty Wylie, who’s rendition of ‘Les Poissons’ as Chef Louis had the audience laughing and cheering.
The cast’s performance was supported by simple but effective staging and beautiful lighting throughout, making it very easy to be transported between the depths of the ocean and the shores of the human world as the story unfolded. The direction made great use of the stage and of each member of the cast – it is amazing to think that a large portion of the show was pulled together in just one short week, during the cast’s school holidays. What a brilliant half term this lucky group of young performers must have had!
Big congratulations to everyone involved, I’m very much looking forward to this great local theatre school’s next production.