"Disney's The Little Mermaid" show #818
Updated: Nov 10, 2021
A nine-person Little Mermaid; that’s all I needed to know to get me to Lucky Penny Productions, who have kicked off their re-opening to Napa audiences with this creative, masterly done production. Leaving no stone unturned, director/choreographer Scottie Woodard has his performers working double (or even triple) time to deliver an animated delight for audiences of all ages to enjoy.
(Photo source: Lucky Penny Productions)
Led by a sterling-voiced Kirstin Pieschke as Ariel, this cast isn’t just busy but filled with commitment and talent. Pieschke gives audiences a subdued “Part of Your World,” but whips out the powerful belt for its reprise. Her lament, “If Only,” is an emotionally driven solo which gives her mermaid sea level depth and shows her chops as an actress. Tommy Lassiter gives his Prince Eric all the charm and earnestness towards Ariel needed to make his royal turn pop from the stage and make you root for their journey. Lassiter has a buttery smooth tenor which shines brightly in “Her Voice,” and later in the “If Only” quartet, alongside the intoxicatingly booming Matt Davis as King Triton and loveable, charismatic Chanel Tilghman as Sebastian. Davis’ presence and comedic chops work well as he doubles between the paternal Triton and the right-hand man to Eric, Grimsby. Tilghman’s leading of the iconic “Under the Sea” and “Kiss the Girl” is fabulous and engaging.
Michael Doppe delivers a great turn as the loveable Flounder, leading a very energetic “She’s in Love” and giving excellent puppetry. Brian Watson is a scene-stealing comic as the eccentric Scuttle and hilarious Chef Louis. Watson’s leading of the act two romp, “Positoovity,” is a toe-tapping delight, and “Les Poissons” is a show-stopping holler thanks to the amount of physical comedy Watson and company execute. Taylor Bartolucci gives the exact Ursula audiences want: devilish, intimidating, and vocally dominating. Bartolucci’s turn at the ill-written “Daddy’s Little Angel” was actually enjoyable, thanks in large part to her vocal prowess, and to the wonderful supporting pair of Andrea Dennison-Laufer as Flotsam and Sarah Lundstrom as Jetsam. “Poor Unfortunate Soul” offers Bartolucci in steady voice, while also being a standout acting performance.
As a whole, Woodard delivers excellent, fresh staging for this beloved Disney story. Supporting the concept well is April George’s exceptional lighting design. In fact, it’s one of the few times where I noticed the lighting design as a huge positive. Barbara McFadden’s costumes and Matt Zilla’s puppets (specifically Flounder and Sebastian) bring a custom appeal to these well-known characters while still honoring the characteristics familiar to lovers of the film. If you’re in the mood to go under the sea in Napa to enjoy a seriously well-done musical, then get your flippers on and head to Lucky Penny Productions before they close on September 26th!