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And while writer Doug Wright smartly addresses that nagging question, “Just what happen to Ariel’s mother?” he never answers it — and therein could lie a much more satisfying explanation for Triton’s feud with his “sis.”) The waterless staging conceit is original and magical in execution, though not without its problems.Bet on it: This tiny kid’s gonna be a big Broadway star (hey, it’s not homerism when she obviously hit a home run).More propitious is its faithfulness to the beloved 1989 film, which all but guarantees the show a long life in Times Square.What’s good about “Mermaid” is very, very good, starting with diminutive Denver native Sierra Boggess as the animated Ariel virtually come to life.
Lighting designer Natasha Katz ought also be Radio City-bound.
And by not simply trying to replicate the animated creatures on stage, she smartly allows the humanity of the actors to come through.
The inhabitants of this underwater world owe much to “The Lion King.” These aren’t puppets, but their headdresses similarly imply species.
Despite its innovations, it’s really not trying to reinvent the storytelling form like “The Lion King.” It’s conventional in that regard, much more in league with “Beauty and the Beast.” Despite its flaws, Zambello’s staging would likely be a hit even if it opened tomorrow just based on audiences’ sheer love for the story, and for its positive exploration of a now complex and interesting father-daughter relationship.
The emotional power of the tale of a girl learning to stand on her own two feet is not only preserved but enhanced.
Actually, there’s fairly liberal borrowing throughout the show from any number of stage spectacles: Ariel’s wonderful human transformation is pure “Peter Pan”; the hit-and-miss costumes are in league with “Beauty and the Beast”; and, most evidently, Sherie Rene Scott’s fantastic first entrance as the eight-armed Ursula will make you think “Audrey II” from “Little Shop of Horrors” — with a little Madam Morrible thrown in (“Wicked”).