Little Mermaid makes waves at OHS
Owatonna High School brought Disney’s The Little Mermaid to the stage in nothing less than spectacular fashion.
Its dedication to the wonder of undersea life was clear in every ocean scene. The iconic “Under the Sea” number in particular was a clear sign this production was going all in. A multitude of colorful creatures filled the stage and danced, while crewmembers moved a large whale through the auditorium aisles, and kites like giant squids were floated above the audience’s head from the balcony. Just when you thought it couldn’t top itself, it did.
When it wasn’t playing in the dazzling waters, the production pulled you into the depths of the sea witch’s cave. As Ursula sang about her quest for power, her eel sidekicks glowed in the dark, and whenever the light hit Ursula’s tentacles, they shimmered. Costumers Margaret Schlicker and Kjerstin Anderson clearly understood how to make the stage work in their favor.
If the show had one lower point in its design, it came when Ursula transformed Ariel into a human. Instead of practical effects, the cast cleared the stage and the clip of the transformation from the animated movie played on a large projector screen. It wasn’t bad by any means, but after pulling out all the stops for previous scenes, it felt like a more inventive method could have been used, similar to her final transformation that did take place on stage.
The performances from the cast were spot on. The titular character played by Jenna McMains was delightful to watch. It’s a tall order to find an actress who can act, sing, and play up the physicality of the muted mermaid, but McMains fit the bill.
Leah Moon’s turn as Ursula was wonderfully wicked. It’s stunning to find such a powerful voice in one so young. While Moon may not be a regular on the stage, audience members are sure to wish she’d grace it more often.
A standout performance by Andrew Wall kept Sebastian the crab in the audience’s hearts even when he wasn’t on stage. Wall’s dedication to a Jamaican accent was well rewarded, as his dialogue was some of the funniest in the show.
The music, led by Chris Harris, swelled to fill the auditorium at the beginning of the show and never left the audience till the end. The orchestra should be congratulated for providing a flawless backdrop to the action.
The entire cast showed great musical skill, but a special nod has to be given to Ian Crum as Triton. Though he didn’t sing often, Crum filled the king’s voice with the depth such a character requires to be sympathetic.
If the music hit any snags, it was the volume of the orchestra occasionally competed with actors on stage, most likely a product of them sitting next to the audience in the auditorium instead of in a traditional pit.
The cast, crew, and director Erik Eitrheim achieved a show well done.
Next time you feel a hankering for theatre, skip the cities. There’s plenty of talent right here in town.