June 17, 2019
Her father rules an enchanting undersea kingdom. Her beautiful singing voice is the finest around. Everything she could possibly require exists under the sea, yet Ariel knows deep in her soul that something’s missing. The teen wants what is impossible, and following her heart will upend her entire world.
Fans of Disney’s The Little Mermaid, rejoice! The Alhambra Theatre & Dining brings this classic tale to life like you’ve never seen it before. With Broadway-worthy vocals, stunning costumes, and fabulous choreography, this show is perfect for the whole family. Or leave the kids or grandkids at home and reminisce your own childhood. Ariel and her friends will delight audiences from June 12-July 28 and this production is popular—grab your tickets before they’re sold out!
Based on the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale and the classic Disney film written and directed by John Musker and Ron Clements and produced by Howard Ashman and John Musker, this is likely a familiar tale. Beautiful, red-tressed mermaid Ariel (Grace Gibbons) falls in love with handsome (human) Prince Eric (Kyle Ivey) after spotting him on a ship and later saving his life when a hurricane blows him overboard. Eric is enchanted by Ariel’s lovely voice and vows to find her, yet they live in vastly different worlds. King Triton (Anthony Mincey II) forbids his headstrong youngest daughter from going to the surface or even collecting human garbage as souvenirs—he believes humans are responsible for his late wife’s death. Yet Ariel refuses to give up. Her only chance is to bargain with evil sea witch Ursula (Rachel Anton). It’s a steep bargain to make. Not only will she lose her beautiful voice, but if she doesn’t wordlessly get the prince to kiss her in three days, her soul will belong to Ursula (who just so happens to be her exiled aunt, bent on reclaiming the kingdom) for eternity.
With friends Flounder (Evan Gray), Scuttle (Benjamin Smith), and Sebastian (Rendell Anthony DeBose) at her side along the way, Ariel tries out life landside and her timeless love story with Prince Eric begins to unfold. The musical is true to the movie, but tastefully and artistically expanded. Learn so much more about Ariel’s sisters, her mother’s disappearance, her complicated family relationships, and Prince Eric’s past, present, and dreams. Previously two-dimensional characters are thoughtfully fleshed out. Enjoy classic songs like “Under the Sea,” “Part of Your World” and “Kiss the Girl” and fall in love with new favorites like “Positoovity” and “Beyond My Wildest Dreams.” No spoilers as to the ending—come see this production live to experience its conclusion.
Grace Gibbons beautifully portrays Ariel in her Alhambra debut and does such justice to Ariel’s signature anthems. What a voice! Little girls (and big girls!) alike will adore this spunky princess.
Kyle Ivey returns to the Alhambra to play Prince Eric and was truly lovable on stage.
King Triton is powerfully reimagined by Anthony Mincey II. This is the Jacksonville native’s third production at the Alhambra. His costume was gorgeous.
Rachel Anton plays an incredible Ursula. The native New Yorker performs in her second Alhambra production, though she’s not new to acting. Her octopus costume was stunning and I simply loved her wild, white wig.
My three favorite characters were Scuttle (Benjamin Smith, who was positively hilarious), Sebastian (Rendell Anthony DeBose, so great in this role!), and the exuberant Chef Louis (Brian D. Simmons). Scuttle’s rendition of “Positoovity” and Sebastian and Chef Louis’ jubilant chase around the kitchen were hilarious.
Producer and Director Tod Booth masterfully breathes life into this magical stage production (originally produced by Disney Theatrical Productions). The set and costumes are incredibly detailed, the music wonderful, and the choreography didn’t miss a beat. My nine-year-old and I were engaged the entire time and the evening simply flew by. We loved the Little Mermaid menu flair—Ursula’s Velvet Brownie or Ariel’s Strawberry Cupcake, anyone? We tried one of each. The food was top notch! The menu changes, but it’s always delicious. I totally recommend the Shrimp & Leek Gratin! We loved the attention to detail, from the menu to the set to Ariel’s Grotto in the theater’s library. From attentive waitstaff to delicious and quickly-served courses, professional-quality performances and a keepsake photo to commemorate our adventure (Note: this costs extra), the evening was all-encompassing and absolutely worth our time.
Disney’s The Little Mermaid is easily the best production I’ve seen at The Alhambra Theatre & Dining, and I’m a big fan of their work! I was thrilled to see a childhood favorite on stage and also appreciative that it was clean enough to share with my own daughter (No language or adult themes of note). Bring the kids and introduce them to great dinner theater. They’ll love the fish puns, fanciful dancing creatures, and your undivided attention while sharing this experience together. I recommend this production for ages four and up. Some moments may be frightening for young children (The eels were delightfully creepy and Ursula makes a killer villain!). Also keep in mind that it’s a long evening, so make sure your child is old enough to sit quietly for an extended period of time. This is truly a show the entire family—grandparents too!—can enjoy together. (It’s also perfectly fine to go without kids. You’ll love it as well.)
Bravo to the entire cast, and thank you to The Alhambra Theatre & Dining for offering families world-class entertainment so close to home. We adored it and would happily go back for an encore performance.
Review originally published on eujacksonville.com.