INDIANAPOLIS — It's definitely hot, hot under the water as a talented cast brings Disney's "The Little Mermaid" to life on the Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre stage.
The production, on stage through June 30, is the theater's annual family show, and it's guaranteed children of all ages — and parents who were kids when the animated film hit the big screen — will adore this journey to a magical kingdom full of mermaids, mermen and sea creatures.
As in the beloved film, the tale follows young Ariel, the daughter of the sea king, Triton, whose curiosity about the world above gets her in a world of trouble with her father. Her rescue of the human Prince Eric sends Triton over the edge, and Ariel is bewitched by Ursula, who offers to make her human for a high price — her beautiful voice. She has just three days to woo Eric — with the help of her friends Flounder, Scuttle and Sebastian — or she'll belong to the sea witch forever.
Sarah Daniels tackles the title role, which includes some degree of difficulty as she "swims" through the "water" on a harness and cables. Daniels, who made her Beef & Boards debut as Sandy in "Grease," is well-suited to the role, with spot-on vocals. (You'll no doubt want to sing along to her rendition of "Part of Your World" but try to temper that urge and just listen.) She also brings just the right touch of naivete to the headstrong mermaid.
Ariel's object of yearning, Eric, is portrayed by Nate Willey, who co-starred with Daniels as Kenickie in "Grease." His Eric is strong and kind and very certain of what he wants in life. Willey and Daniels have good chemistry, which isn't always easy when half the duo doesn't speak for much of the second act.
The prince also gets to bring the audience two songs that weren't featured in the film, "Her Voice" and "One Step Closer." Both, in Willey's hands, are welcome additions.
The young lovers are a wonderful pair, but it’s the show’s villain that is its powerhouse.
Kelly Teal Goyette portrays sea witch Ursula with the same energy she’s brought to her previous roles at the theatre. (If you saw last year’s family show, you’ll recognize Goyette from her brilliant portrayal of Miss Hannigan in “Annie.”) She is deliciously evil and conniving as Ursula and moves with a hulking grace in her bulky costume. Her vocals, particularly in Ursula’s headliner “Poor Unfortunate Souls,” are strong and playful.
There really are no background characters ... sidekicks and several supporting characters all get a chance to shine.
Michael Ray Fisher channels his inner crustacean as Sebastian. He leads the cast through a brilliant and visually stunning "Under the Sea," earning an extended ovation from the crowd mid-act. It was certainly deserved. (Be sure to pay special attention to the acrobatics above the stage.)
Twins Austin Glen Jacobs and Ryan Alexander Jacobs portray Ursula's eel henchmen Flotsam and Jetsam in spectacular fashion, bobbing and weaving with "waves." It was simply fascinating to watch.
You'll undoubtedly enjoy John Vessels' droll portrayal of Eric's guardian Grimsby. Chris Trombetta is the right kind of annoying as Scuttle the seagull. And B&B regular Peter Scharbrough may give his best performance yet as King Triton.
"The Little Mermaid" is a colorful and cheerful journey under the sea sure to thrill your littles and make you fall in love all over again with a Disney classic.
Tickets for the show range from $45 to $70. There's a $10 discount for kids ages 3-15. All tickets include the family friendly dinner buffet. For reservations, call the box office at 317-872-9664 between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday and 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Mondays. For a complete schedule, visit beefandboards.com.
If you go
What: "The Little Mermaid"
Where: Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre, 9301 Michigan Road, Indianapolis
When: Through June 30
Tickets: Range from $45 to $70. There's a $10 discount for kids ages 3-15. Call the box office at 317-872-9664.