As Colleen Petrucci settles into her command as the new Executive Artistic Director for Pittsburgh Musical Theater, she continues to push the envelope with a mix of edgy and entertaining performances for a wide range of theater goers in the Pittsburgh area.
Her first production, A Chorus Line, was infused with gripping drama and chilling human emotion. In her second show of the season, we’re treated to a reprise of the Disney animated film based off of the 1837 novel by Hans Christian Andersen, The Little Mermaid.
The musical takes the audience back to a simpler time and place; 1989 to be exact, some 26 years ago when Ariel made her first trip to the surface, whimsically enchanting us with a plethora of lighthearted and heartfelt musical numbers. The innocence of youth and the power of love, all wrapped into a tiny, crustacean-shaped package.
The Little Mermaid follows Ariel, a carefree mermaid princess that has an affinity for all things human. While on a trip to the surface, Ariel saves the life of Prince Eric, who washed ashore after being thrown overboard during a storm. Ariel’s father, King Triton, who believes he lost his queen to humans, is vehemently against any interaction above the surface, and when word spreads of her antics, an epic father-daughter standoff ensues. The riff ultimately drives Ariel into the tentacles the devil incarnate, King Triton’s banished sister, Ursula.
An overall entertaining and jovial affair, The Little Mermaid restores a sense of balance and youth-like wonder. It’s a time machine that enthralled the young and not so young, effectively adapting the film into a live performance that incited laughter and smiles.
Larissa Overholt breaks down the essence of Ariel with vocal purity, exceptional power, timing, range, and an innocence that thrusts watchers into her world of wonder and whimsy. It was a master class of vocal characterization, as well as the most proficient use of a dinglehopper I’ve ever seen.
Tom Kolos who played Prince Eric, delightfully surprised me with a muted strength of character and ability to seamlessly merge his vocal power with softness. The relentless search for his true love, coupled by his refusal to acknowledge his princely duties, connected the audience, while driving his caretaker and old friend, Grimsby (Brady Patsy), into an overtly distraught state of mind.
Pasty delivered an astute, yet paternal role in Grimsby. A faithful servant to the king, growing to love Eric as one of his own, and only wanting true happiness for his lovesick prince.
Trumaine “Tru” Verret-Flemming brought the house down as Sebastian, flawlessly expressing angst, love, compassion, and the anxiety that comes with playing babysitter to Ariel. By far, the most diverse role of the evening, as Flemming shape-shifted his emotional balance into each line.
Andrea Weinzierl surprised and delighted as Ursula. Her bellowing muse of anger and jealousy brings Ursula to life, and gives us a crystal-clear view of her ability to transform and transcend characters out of the norm.
Last but not least, Tim Hartman owned the role of King Triton. He displayed a towering inferno of vocal robustness, mixed with gentle sweeping tones, and a touch of insanity, as to be expected with 7 daughters under his reef.
Kudos to the entire cast, as it’s important for our readers to know that each team member dedicated time, effort, and energy to create the magic we’re privy to with each performance. For a musical is not a musical without a team of artists working towards a singular goal, to express their love of creativity to those who care enough to share it with them.
The Little Mermaid is Directed by Colleen Petrucci, Choreography is provided by Lisa Elliot, and the Music Director is Melissa Yanchak.
Next on the roster, Young Frankenstein, running March 5-15. Visit PMT’s website for more information.