Well, I managed to be able to see the Broadway show of The Little Mermaid, something I’ve dreamed of experiencing since the moment I heard about the Broadway show years ago. Most of you know that Disney’s The Little Mermaid is both my favorite Disney movie and one of my favorite movies of ALL TIME, so this was MAJOR for me! I also was lucky enough to see the original Broadway show on youtube, starring Sierra Boggess as Ariel herself, that show was amazing with many great new songs, capturing the characters I loved so much while giving them a new spin, and clever writing.
However, the show I saw live was very different from that show because for some reason Disney decided to make changes to that show. Some songs were taken out, some songs were replaced, and even the characters were changed quite a great deal. Was this show charming in a new way like the original Broadway show? HELL NO! I kept in mind that with a different cast it wouldn’t be as good, but I felt the same when I saw Wicked and it was still amazing. This show not only didn’t capture the amazingness of the movie or the original Broadway show, but it was an absolute insult to both of them. These choices they made don’t work, take away a lot of depth the original show and movie had, are watered down (No pun intended), and felt more like a play ran by little kids than anything else.
Diana Huey as Ariel
Lets start with The Little Mermaid herself, Ariel. First of all, the actress that played her was actually Asian, which I though was pretty cool and she did give a good performance. However, even the actress couldn’t save Ariel from the writing. This didn’t feel like Ariel to me AT ALL! The character here became so bland and one-dimensional. She even had a mini song where she said over and over that she hated her dad after he destroyed her stuff, which was really hitting the audience over the head. In the original show she did say she hated him but only said it once and didn’t have to sing a sound where she said it over and over. Also, while it was kind of cute, I was bothered that she wasn’t paying attention to the fact that the Chef was serving dead sea creatures. She was too busy focusing on other things like looking out a window or noticing one of the servant girl’s puffy skirts. In the original show she was aware the whole time and was even freaking out when it was happening and Eric got her off of the table and comforted her. That was FAR more interested than what this show did. Plus Ariel isn’t this ignorant and flighty not to notice she’s being served dead sea creatures. She felt more like furniture than the Ariel I knew. I don’t blame the actress for this, I blame bad writing and directing. She is a really talented actress and a pretty good singer. She's no Jodi Benson or Sierra Boggess, but let's not compare apples and oranges.
Jennifer Allen as Ursula, Fredrick Hagreen as Jetsam, and Brandon Roach as Flotsam
Then we have what I consider to be the biggest blunder of this show, the characterization of Ursula. First of all, the costume for Ursula in this show looks absolutely AMAZING! Unfortunately, that’s the one thing they managed to truly capture about Ursula in this show. I don’t blame the actress for this because apparently with this new version of the Broadway show they had every Ursula like this, so I blame the director. The actress didn’t feel like Ursula because she was so inconsistent. It felt like she couldn’t decide between being an angry child or a serious and sinister villain. It felt more like a little girl dressed up for Halloween and kept shouting “I’M URSULA, THE SEA WITCH! I’M URSULA, THE SEA WITCH!” and was so obnoxious! This performance was really unfocused and over-the-top. I know Ursula was always an over-the-top character but this was taken to an exaggerated and extreme over-the-top level. When she’s trying to convince Ariel to take her deal and that she’s changed it doesn’t feel convincing. Ursula was never trustworthy but she talked with real charisma, kept a leveled head, and was pretty fast-talking like a lawyer or a used car salesman. This Ursula just kept trying to do that half of the time and the other half kept shouting like an angry child. It makes Ariel look really stupid trusting someone who is obviously this mentally insane. Before it was just her taking a risk for love but still being hesitant. But with this, SHE SHOULD BE SAYING HELL NO AND GETTING THE HELL OUT OF THERE!
Also with the way this Ursula would have a line that was a play-on words like “squid pro quo” and would just move on like in the original show, she makes a big deal out it. She laughs loudly like it was the funniest thing ever and nudges her eels asking them if they got it. That was just SO GRAITING and made me CRINGE SO MUCH! This was such horrible characterization that it seems like something that AWFUL Descendants franchise would do to the character!
Her backstory was also changed to where she was the youngest of seven little princesses and all of them were beautiful mermaids except her. How the hell would that work? Why was she born different? With the original show having her be Triton’s sister I just thought maybe when she was banished she was also turned into a squid lady or when she got deep into the black magic she accidentally turned into what she is. But no, she was born this way in a family of mermaids. Her dad hated her because of this and felt guilty because of it so he gave her the magic shell. Yeah, give an emotionally unstable child that you neglected an all-powerful weapon! That sure as hell won’t come back to bite you in the ass! She one-by-one killed off her sisters to make herself the heir and became Queen of the Sea after her father “mysteriously” developed a rare and incurable disease! GEE! I WONDER WHAT THE HELL CAUSED IT! And she seemed to forget that her father also had a son that was only a year-old at the time she became queen. So when he came of age he took the throne and banished her for tormenting everyone. How could she forget that she had a brother? You’d think that ONE THING that would take away her power would be an important thing to remember! Why not kill him when he was small and helpless before he could take the throne? Don’t tell me she didn’t remember until that exact moment when he came of age! I should think she’d realize LONG before then! It makes her look REALLY STUPID, on top of her painfully terrible convincing skills that only this version of Ariel would fall for.
Speaking of stupid, you’ll never believe this, but the way she died was actually HER FAULT! Why? When Ariel got her magic shell from her and point that she’ll die if it was destroyed, she couldn’t look more like an obvious liar (Including when Ariel first brought the subject up during Poor Unfortunate Souls) if she even tried. In the original show she was very natural in her lying, again, like a lawyer or a used car salesman. Anyway, when she tried telling Ariel that what her father told her about her shell was a lie, she said he lied that her mother died because of humans and Triton realized it must’ve been Ursula that killed his wife (Yeah, we’ll get to Triton in later on here) and she couldn’t look more fake in her lying! She tried to say she wouldn’t hurt a mino (Right after she attacked Triton with the trident, ruined Ariel’s chance to be with Eric, and was going to force her to be her servant FOREVER unless her father gave up the throne) and is SO FAKE about it! Ariel crushes the shell shouting “LIAR,” so which I must say, NO SH*T, STUPID! This also ruins Ariel’s development she had in the original show. She had a choice to either give Ursula the shell back and become human again but with her voice back again or trust her father that she had a strained relationship with. There was nothing about Ursula killing her mother, just Ariel realizing that she can’t make another mistake again, let others suffer, or turn her back on her father after everything he just did for her. This version of the show takes away her growth and development and makes her defeating Ursula be more out of spite and revenge. Not only did they ruin Ursula and make her stupid but also ruined Ariel’s development and she had such GREAT development in the original show.
Matthew Kacergis as Eric
Prince Eric became so bland and generic in this show and much like Ariel is basically like furniture, even more so than her. He does must less than the movie Eric did and didn’t even make an appearance during the climax like in the original show where he tried to get Ariel back from Ursula but failed. In this show after Ariel is taken he isn’t seen until the end being all like “We have to look for her.” WHAT THE HELL? Plus I hate what this version did in transitioning to the One Step Closer song. He just says that him and Ariel are both outcasts because he wants to sail the seas and she’s a quiet girl in a noisy world. Yeah, apparently that was enough for him to feel bad about mentioning she’s mute and then dancing. First of all, something that was amazing that helped with their chemistry was how Ariel was acting crazy before and he said, “Grimsby has invited so many princesses to dinner before. They’re all so prim, so proper, and SO BORING! But you… You were practically swinging from the chandelier!” and he joked about maybe goblins stole her voice in the night. That was SO MUCH BETTER because it showed him falling for her because of how different she is from other girls he met and was fun every moment he was with her. Plus him realizing that a joke in poor taste was more offensive and decided to make up for it by using dance as a way of communicating instead. This was the moment that brought them so close to each other, showed so much chemistry, both were different from the norm of both of their societies but didn’t care, and weren’t always graceful and would be goofy as well. The version of the show I saw in terms of that dance moment didn’t capture that at all. It was kind of awkward and I didn’t feel the connection between these two at all, especially compared to Sierra Boggess and Sean Palmer. It was like a if a singer was speaking the notes instead of singing them. Again, I don’t blame the actors because I think all of the actors are talented, they just were dealt a bad hand. In fact, I'd say the actor who played Eric was the most talented and had an amazing voice. Not as good as Sean Palmer but again apples and oranges.
Steve Blanchard as King Triton
King Triton, first of all his costume looked absolutely TERRIBLE! He no longer has his long grey hair like the original show and looks like a completely different character. His top half (not his tail) is apparently now pale green to go with his gold and green tail. Secondly, they stripped him of all the depth, likability, realism, and good development that he had in both the movie and the show. Every time this version of Triton gets even a little mad he will shoot his trident up in the air telling people to shut up. It doesn’t even take very much, just his other daughters saying he doesn’t pay attention to them like he does Ariel. He says he loves them all equally but I don’t believe him AT ALL, at least no this version of Triton, and he eve said “One son! Was that too much to ask?” Really? This show is resorting to jokes that Disney fans make? PATHETIC! Plus, his reason for hating humans is because they killed his wife (Much like in the original show and the lame prequel movie) but had NO PROOF! He just says he had a gut feeling or something and that was all he needed! WHAT THE HELL! THIS SHOW HAD HIM HATE HUMANS BECAUSE HE HAD A GUT FEELING? Anyway, when he destroyed Ariel’s things, there is not even a hint of regret like in the movie or the original show. He just does it and leaves without looking back at his daughter crying or even a hint of regret. He was made to be just a one-dimensional MONSTER! I defend Triton when he’s called abusive, but here there is absolutely NO DEFENDING this version AT ALL! Plus when he hears about how Ariel made a deal with Ursula the night before Ariel’s third day as human, he said he was going to have a talk with Ursula and yet he isn’t seen again until the climax, aside from to sing his part of If Only. What, was his daughter being in danger not important enough to keep him from stopping to sing a song? Is that why during ALL THAT TIME he didn’t get to Ursula’s lair until it was too late? Did he stop to sing every five minutes? IN MAKES NO SENSE! Plus the actor gave a dull and lifeless performance, which I think I might blame more on how badly written Triton is in this version. Let's just say if you weren't a fan of Triton before, he will look REALLY GOOD by comparison to this one.
Melvin Abston as Sebastian
Then we have Sebastian, who honestly doesn’t do too much in the show like he did before. He wasn’t even the one to reveal that Ariel was in love with a human, it was Flounder, and we’ll get to that disaster after this. The “betrayal” he does was tell Triton where Ariel was after one of her sisters told him Ariel was in love with a human. Honestly, he would’ve yelled at her even if Sebastian didn’t know where she was. He mainly is just there to complain, do some comedy, and the most helpful thing he does is Kiss the Girl. He’s not as enjoyable and developed as he was in the original show or in the movie. He’s just a whiny little stick in the mud here. They also for some reason took away the hat that was supposed to look like it had eyes on it and made him look more like a crab that was there in the original show. What did they replace it with? George Washington’s hairstyle that was dyed red…. I kid you not! That doesn’t make him look like a crap, it makes him look like some black guy that used ketchup to dye his hair. The original costume didn’t look completely like an actual crap (obviously) but it was convincing enough for a stage show. So when his head pops out of the dinner plate it doesn’t look like a crab but just a black guy whose George Washington costume went HORRIBLY WRONG!
Connor Russell as Flounder
Now we have another big disaster, Flounder! Not as bad as what they did to Triton and Ursula, but he’s right up there! What the hell were they thinking? First of all, he’s not played by a little kid in this reinvented version of the show. Okay, there are child labor laws and restrictions, so I guess the logical thing would be to get a woman to play him like plays usually do when they can’t use a little boy. Well, the director of this show wasn’t smart enough to think of that, they have an adult man play his role. He was probably in his early twenties but MAN that just didn’t fit AT ALL! Flounder is meant to be a cute little kid and this was just a really BAD casting choice!
However, the bad casting isn’t what was ruined about Flounder. They made him a whiny character that has an obvious and painfully awkward crush on Ariel! That’s right! This version of Flounder has a crush on Ariel! What the hell were they thinking? Flounder NEVER had a crush on Ariel, despite what those dumbass fan theories say. In the movie it was clear he didn’t have a crush on her because I don’t know many guys who would give a statue to the girl he likes of another guy that she likes. Flounder had always just been a close and loyal friend to Ariel. They balanced each other out with her being reckless and brave and him being cautious and a coward. In this show anytime he was on the stage it was always him being awkward about his crush on Ariel and always blurting out that he has a crush on her like it’s a big secret when he does it in EVERY SINGLE SCENE HE’S IN! We know she’s going to end up with Eric, so why would they want us to feel bad for Flounder about Ariel not feeling the same way about him? Flounder would do anything to help Ariel but in a brother and sister way.
He was apparently with Ariel when she rescued Eric but in the song She’s in Love, he’s completely unaware why she was acting weird, despite being seeing her fawn all over Eric, save him, and say she was going to be part of his world someday. That made NO SENSE AT ALL! That is just LAZY and STUPID! Plus during that song he lost all the fun energy the original Flounder had in that song and just sung it in a whiny way! That was just grating! And that he was the one who revealed to Ariel’s Sisters (Who later tell their father) and Sebastian that Ariel was in love with a human is an absolute INSULT to Flounder! Even the Ariel’s Beginning version of Flounder, who was the polar opposite of the original Flounder, is more like the original Flounder than this version! Flounder always kept Ariel’s secrets no matter what. But this version accidentally told that secret in very little time. Flounder was always there to defend and help Ariel no matter what, even if he was scared, but this version was absolutely NOTHING like Flounder AT ALL!
Scuttle has very little to do here. He also apparently buys human things to make a profit or something. If that were the case, why doesn’t he know their REAL names or what they’re REALLY used for? He’s not bad, but isn’t fun like he was originally. Flotsam and Jetsam are done fine and their costumes look amazing. Grimsby is pretty much the same except that he takes over the parts Carlotta had in the show, which doesn’t work in some cases. Grimsby is too reserved and old fashioned to check on Ariel when she’s in the bathtub. Plus I like how Carlotta had a SLIGHTLY bigger role in the original Broadway show and acting like a warm and caring mother figure to Ariel. How she was defending her when the other servant girls were talking bad about Ariel was a very sweet moment that was replaced with Grimsby. He was like a far less developed but still kind of enjoyable version of Mrs. Potts. Plus it gave Ariel a female besides Ursula to interact with. Chef Louis remains the same as before.
Too many names to list and only so much I'm able to type in the caption
Ariel’s Sisters in the Broadway show usually had at least two women of color playing some of the sisters, who were would also be the maids and the princesses singing for Eric, but not here. Despite that Ariel is played by an Asian actress and they continued to tradition of Sebastian being played by a black guy, everyone else is white (Except for one of the chefs), even the sisters. Not too major but giving people of color a chance to shine, even if it doesn’t make sense, is something that is important. Plus it gave the show a charm to is that the Cinderella movie with Brandy Norwood and Whitney Houston had. However, even with that aside, they really made the sisters pretty annoying. They were so bratty and wanted Ariel’s solo. Even when she’s missing one of the sisters said they would take Ariel’s solo. That is just HORRIBLE! In the original show the worst they did was yell as Ariel for missing the concert, which is completely understandable, but they were never mean or bratty. They just acted like regular sisters to Ariel, worried about her when she was acting strange, and were happy for her when they realized she was in love. In this shows version of She’s in Love, it’s just like the snobby girls in high school that love to know all the gossip and stick their noses where their not wanted.
Plus when they get mad at Ariel for missing the concert its not really that big a deal here. After she’s not there to sing, the girls complain for a minute, and LITERALLY just a few seconds laters Ariel arrives. Why not just start over now that she was there? It wasn’t like how she was gone for like an hour or so. She was only a few minutes late.
Admittedly pretty good visuals
Yeah, they apparently messed with the songs here to. Such as their placement, some being taken out, and some even being replaced. The World Above was the first song played instead of the third, which doesn’t work. It takes away the build up of out protagonist and her mischievous nature. Plus it doesn’t make her missing the concert a big deal because she ends up just being less than five minutes late. The World Above Reprise was taken out, Scuttle’s song about human things was taken out and replaced with him trying to buy Ariel’s dinglehopper, the Sweet Child Reprise was taken out, there a two extra versions of the song If Only that are less than a minute and really add nothing but Triton being concerned and Ariel hating her dad, and replacing I Want The Good Times Back with a stupid new song called Daddy’s Little Angel. They couldn’t even leave the music alone! None of it makes any sense and these choices they make end up turning the musical into a HUGE MESS! Here's a link to that stupid new song if you're interested.
Being able to fly on stage was really awesome!
I will say that while the costumes don’t look as good as they did in the original show, I did think it was cool that they did have the merpeople characters flying in the air to look like they were swimming. Their tails are replaced with skirts so it looks like they’re floating in the water. That was actually pretty impressive. The sets don’t look as good as they originally did but were nice to look at, and both the lighting and visual effects were great. However, the atmosphere wasn’t as big and fun as the original production was. There was so much going on but also didn’t take away from what was happening. It had amazing energy to it. But this show didn’t have as much of that aspect to it. It felt pretty cheap, even if it was nice to look at.
F*CK YOU GLENN CASALE!!!!!!!!!
My gosh! I mean, MY GOSH! How the hell could they mess up such an amazing movie and such an amazing Broadway show? All of this was thanks to the terrible directing of Glenn Casale! Even if you take away the original Broadway show, NONE of this works for a Broadway show of The Little Mermaid! It fails to be faithful to the original movie and be a good show on its own! It’s not just because I saw the original show on youtube because I had also done the same with Wicked but when I saw it live with a new cast it still captured the magic. It didn’t make huge and unnecessary changes to the show because they didn’t need to. Even as a Wizard of Oz fan I still found Wicked to be entertaining and thought of it as an alternative universe than made the characters I loved charming in a new way while still a well-made show on its own. This reinvented version of The Little Mermaid on Broadway didn’t do ANY of that AT ALL! It’s like the writers of Maleficent and Descendants got together and wouldn’t let the people who originally worked on the movie and original Broadway show get much (if any) input. This show was PAINFUL! I suggest just watching the original movie and look for the original show on youtube! This reinvented version is an EMBARRASSMENT! It also wastes the time of actors that are talented with such a butchard script and awful directing. To end on a better note, here are some pictures of the original Broadway show that REALLY shows you how it's done!