The Little Mermaid (musical)
|The Little Mermaid|
Playbill cover at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre
|Basis||Disney's animated film The Little Mermaid
Book by Hans Christian Andersen
|Productions||2007 Denver (try-out)
Subsequent US productions
2010 - 2011 Israel
2012 The Netherlands
2013 South America
The Little Mermaid is a stage musical produced by Disney Theatrical, based on the animated 1989 Disney film of the same name and the classic story of The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen. The musical's book is by Doug Wright, music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Howard Ashman (written for the film) and new lyrics by Glenn Slater.
The musical had a pre-Broadway tryout in Denver, Colorado in July through early September 2007, with Broadway previews beginning in November 2007 at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, previously the home of Disney Theatrical's Beauty and the Beast, which closed in July 2007 to make way for the new production. With Disney set to open the show at the time, it was believed that having two Disney icons on Broadway at the same time would divide audiences and cause competition between the two shows. The Little Mermaid officially opened on January 10, 2008 and closed on August 30, 2009 after 685 performances and 50 previews.
Act I 
Prince Eric, his adviser Grimsby, and sailors are aboard a ship at sea, discussing the "mythical" merfolk that supposedly live under the sea. Grimsby tries to tell Eric that he must return to court to fulfill his birthright as king. However, Eric hears a beautiful voice and commands it to be followed ("Fathoms Below").
Deep on the ocean floor in the merfolk's kingdom, a concert in honor of a defeated coup d'état by Ursula is underway, being performed by the daughters of Triton the sea king. King Triton's court composer, Sebastian has composed a song for girls to perform ("Daughters of Triton"). However, the youngest daughter, Ariel, is not there for her solo, bringing the concert to a grinding halt. Ariel has forgotten about the concert entirely, and is swimming around the surface, admiring her new-found item, a fork. She reveals that she is fascinated with the human world ("The World Above"). Together with her best friend Flounder, Ariel visits Scuttle and his fellow seagulls to ask about the human things she's collected, and he explains them somewhat erroneously ("Human Stuff").
Elsewhere, the sea witch Ursula is planning revenge against her brother, King Triton. She explains that she was banished from the palace because she used black magic, and tells her minions Flotsam and Jetsam to keep an eye on Ariel, whom she thinks will be the key to getting the crown and trident ("I Want the Good Times Back").
When Ariel returns to the underwater kingdom, she is berated by King Triton, who is angered to learn that she has been on the surface as contact between the merfolk and human world is forbidden. Ariel rushes off, upset, and King Triton assigns Sebastian, of whom Ariel made a laughingstock because of her absence at the concert, to watch over Ariel and make sure she doesn't get into any trouble. Ariel sits alone in her grotto, which contains her collection of human things, and sings about how she does not believe humans are so bad ("Part of Your World").
Ariel and Flounder meet Scuttle at the surface to see Prince Eric's ship and the people on it up close. Grimsby tries to reason with Eric, telling him he must find a bride and take his place as king. A storm suddenly hits, and Eric is tossed overboard. Ariel saves him from drowning and drags him to shore. Ariel realizes that she is falling in love with him, and vows to somehow find a way to be with him ("Part of Your World (Reprise)").
Ariel returns to her underwater home, and her changed behavior makes her sisters and Flounder suspect that she has fallen in love ("She's in Love"). On land, Eric is determined to the find the woman who saved his life, but the only clue he has is "Her Voice". He and Grimsby have the idea of holding a ball where foreign princesses will sing to him in hopes that one will be the girl who saved him.
King Triton learns that Ariel has saved a human, and confronts her about what happened to her mother ("The World Above (Reprise)"). As Ariel and Triton quarrel, Triton uses his trident to destroy Ariel's human collection. Sebastian arrives and tries to comfort Ariel. Furious with Sebastian for slipping out the truth to her father, Ariel decides to run away. Sebastian tries to reason with Ariel by pointing out the wonders of the undersea world ("Under the Sea"). As all the sea creatures join in the jamboree, Ariel swims away with Flounder. As she tries to run away, she is stopped by Flotsam and Jetsam. They sweet talk her into seeking help from Ursula ("Sweet Child").
Ariel goes to Ursula, who presents a deal: Ariel will be turned into a human for three days, during which she has to win the kiss of true love from Eric. If she does, she will be human permanently; if not, her soul will belong to Ursula and she will spend eternity in her "watery hell soaked lair." As payment for the deal, Ariel will have to give up her voice, which would stay safe in Ursula's magic shell. Ariel is unsure about this because of her father telling her that the shell was the fragile life source of Ursula's witchcraft. However, Ursula says that she carries things inside it ("Poor Unfortunate Souls"). Ariel signs the agreement with the ink from her aunt's tentacles. She sings into the shell and swims up to the surface. During this time, Ursula's spell takes effect, and Ariel is transformed into a human.
Act II 
Sebastian and Flounder bring Ariel, newly human and mute, to the shore. Scuttle and the seagulls give her a pep talk to bring her spirits up and get her used to her new legs ("Positoovity"). Thinking Ariel is being attacked by seagulls, Eric chases them off. When Ariel tries to speak with him, she realizes she cannot talk. Eric brings Ariel back to his palace, where the head mistress, Carlotta and the maids bathe and dress Ariel nicely for her night out with the prince. Ariel is fascinated by the human world she finds herself in and the maids wonder why Prince Eric would bring such a girl to the palace ("Beyond My Wildest Dreams"). That night Chef Louis cooks dinner for Ariel, Grimsby, and Eric. He almost cooks Sebastian for the grand finale, but he manages to escape as Louis, the other chefs, and the maids start chasing after him ("Les Poissons"/"Les Poissons (Reprise)"). Later, Eric takes Ariel to the ballroom and teaches her to dance ("One Step Closer"). Meanwhile, Ursula is anxiously waiting for the three days to end and sends Flotsam and Jetsam to hurry things along ("I Want The Good Times Back" (Reprise)).
The next evening, after taking Ariel on a tour of the kingdom, Eric takes Ariel on a quiet boat ride through a lagoon. Sebastian and Scuttle watch anxiously, waiting for them to kiss. Sebastian and some of the lagoon animals try to create a romantic atmosphere for Eric to kiss Ariel ("Kiss the Girl"). Just before they kiss, Flotsam and Jetsam give the boat an "electric shock" and swim away gloating ("Sweet Child" (Reprise)). As the second day ends, Sebastian gives Ariel a pep talk in order to help her get the prince the next day. Carlotta arrives to get Ariel ready for bed and tells her about the singing contest which is to be held the next day. As Ariel wishes she could tell Eric everything, Triton worries about where his daughter has gone, Sebastian is concerned for Ariel since her time as a human is almost up, and Eric still dreams of finding the girl who saved him even though he does not want to lose Ariel ("If Only – Quartet"). Afterwards, Sebastian returns to the sea and rehearses his apology and explanation to King Triton. Sebastian and Flounder tell an angry King Triton about Ariel's deal with Ursula. Fearful for his daughter's life, Triton races off to find her.
On Ariel's last day as a human the contest takes place. All of the foreign princesses sing to Eric to the tune of "Part of Your World" to see if he can recognize the girl for whom he is looking ("The Contest"). All of them fail to do so. Ariel chooses at that moment to dance for him, and Eric picks her. Ursula then appears, floods the ballroom, and tells Ariel that the sun has set and she has lost. Flotsam and Jetsam grab Ariel and take her back to the sea.
King Triton arrives to confront his sister and rescue Ariel, who has returned to her mermaid form. He agrees to take Ariel's place, and Ursula celebrates her victory as she claims the trident and declares herself queen ("Poor Unfortunate Souls" (Reprise)). She banishes Triton with a wave of the trident. Eric's ship arrives and Ursula uses the trident to raise the sea level higher, having Eric's interference out of the way. While she is distracted, Ariel then grabs the magic shell and regains her voice, causing Flotsam and Jetsam to swim away. Ursula says to Ariel "Don't be shy, tail-bait, speak up!" Ariel discovers that her voice has come back, and then Ursula demands to her that she gives her back her shell. Ariel, threatening to smash the shell, claims that Ursula would die without her shell, because it has terrible power. Ursula begins to sweet talk her niece, saying she can turn her human again and reunite her with her prince. Ariel starts to believe her and begins to hand the shell over. Believing the shell is within her grasp, Ursula tells Ariel that since they have proven the princess was not a "daddy's girl" anymore, Triton will rot on the ocean floor forever and Ariel will trust her instead. Furious, Ariel yanks the shell away and smashes it, which destroys Ursula. Triton reappears and is reunited with his daughter.
Eric and Ariel are reunited on the beach where Eric realizes that King Triton is Ariel's father. Grimsby, upon hearing this, approves of Eric and Ariel's relationship since she is a princess. Eric then asks King Triton for his blessing to marry Ariel. Triton says that it is Ariel's place to answer. She nods yes then after a kiss with Eric, she realizes her voice is back and verbally accepts his proposal. King Triton then says goodbye to his daughter (If only (Reprise)). In honor of his daughter, Triton declares peace between the humans and merfolk. Ariel and Eric are married and sail away happily on a ship ("Finale").
Denver tryout (2007) 
The Little Mermaid had a pre-Broadway tryout at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts' Ellie Caulkins Opera House July 26, 2007 through September 9, 2007. Every seat available (approximately 95,000 seats) for the 6-week run was sold out.
Broadway (2007–2009) 
The musical began previews on Broadway at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on November 3, 2007 and was temporarily shut down on November 10, 2007 due to the 2007 Broadway stagehand strike. The strike ended on November 28, 2007 and the show resumed previews the next day and the official opening date was postponed from the previously planned December 6, 2007 to January 10, 2008. Jodi Benson and Pat Carroll who both starred in the 1989 animated film as Ariel and Ursula respectively, attended the Opening Night ceremony.
Direction was by Francesca Zambello, making her Broadway debut, with choreography by Stephen Mear. Scenic design was by George Tsypin, costume design by Tatiana Noginova and lighting design by Natasha Katz. The original cast featured Sierra Boggess in the title role of Ariel, Sean Palmer as Prince Eric, Brian D'Addario and Trevor Braun alternate as Flounder, Norm Lewis as King Triton, Sherie Rene Scott as Ursula, Tituss Burgess as Sebastian, Tyler Maynard as Flotsam, Derrick Baskin as Jetsam, Jonathan Freeman as Grimsby, and John Treacy Egan as Chef Louis.
The original Broadway production closed on August 30, 2009, after 50 previews and 685 performances. Thomas Schumacher, producer and president of Disney Theatrical Productions said, "it would be fiscally irresponsible to our shareholders to risk operating losses with such a big show in the historically challenging fall months. We are closing the Broadway production to concentrate on the long future life of this title."
To assist the performers in achieving the effect of underwater movement on stage, the actors wear Heelys wheeled footwear. To depict the fantasy underwater kingdom, according to the director, the set is "very translucent, takes light beautifully and [is] architectural and sculptural to suggest an underwater world without actually being in real water."
Subsequent US productions 
- US Tour
The First National US tour of the musical had been scheduled to start in the fall of 2010, but the tour has not started as of 2012. In March 2012, the show's lyricist Glenn Slater said that a United States tour will hopefully happen after an upcoming reworked European tour.
- Ivins, Utah (2011)
Due to the success of the regional premiere of Tarzan at the Tuacahn Amphitheatre in Ivins, Utah, Disney Theatrical gave the rights for the U.S regional premiere of The Little Mermaid to the Tuacahn Center for the Arts . The production is scheduled for Tuacahn's 2011 season.
- St. Louis (2011)
- Wichita (2011)
A regional production took place at Music Theatre of Wichita in Wichita, KS from Wednesday August 3–7, 2011.
- Sacramento (2012)
First theatre-in-the-round production at Sacramento Music Circus, July 2012.
- New Jersey (2013)
- Kansas City (2013)
International productions 
- Israel (2010–2011)
An Israeli production of the musical ran across Israel starring Rinat Gabai as Ariel and Guy Zu-Aretz as Prince Arik.
- Philippines (2011)
Philippine-based Atlantis Productions secured the rights to the musical and it opened on November 18, 2011 and closed on December 11, 2011. Pop stars Rachelle Ann Go and Erik Santos appear as Ariel and Prince Eric, respectively. This is the first production that incorporates Asian elements into its costume design by Eric Pineda, whose designs had to be approved by Disney Theatrical Co.. A majority of the cast members plays as puppeteer-actors, who control wayang or shadow puppets , bunraku or traditional Japanese puppets and nang kaloung or Cambodian puppets, during certain parts of the show. 
- The Netherlands (2012)
The Dutch version is supposed to be the first of many European productions, produced by Stage Entertainment, the company founded by Joop van den Ende. They have come to an agreement with Disney to revamp the Little Mermaid. For this version new songs (like "Daddy's Little Girl" and "If Only") were written and some of the songs were omitted ("Sweet Child" Reprise, "I Want The Good Times Back"). The set and lighting designs are completely different from the American version, using aerial effects to create the concept of swimming instead of using heeleys. The criticism about the stage not looking like a world underwater was taken seriously, changing the underwater set into a more realistic set by Bob Crowley. TThe world above water is made to look like a pop-up book, using cardboard waves and rocks for instance. The wigs and costumes, also designed by Crowley, were also made more realistic and were adapted to cooperate with the flying harnasses, though a lot of criticism was received for the underwater wigs, since they don't seem to float naturally but point straight up. The production is directed by Glenn Casale. Replica productions of this version debuted in Moscow, Russia on July 5, 2012 and in Toyko, Japan on April 7,2013.
- Russia (2012)
The Russian production opened on July 5, 2012 at the Rossia Theatre in Moscow. The production uses the Dutch production design and directions by Bob Crowley and Glenn Casale, respectively. The show is produced by Stage Entertainment Russia.
- South America (2013)
- Japan (2013)
A Japanese production opened on April 7, 2013 at the Shiki Theatre Natsu, Tokyo using the production designs and directions used in the Dutch production by Bob Crowley and Glenn Casale, respectively.
Musical numbers 
Music by Alan Menken and All Lyrics by Glenn Slater, except as noted:
*Lyrics by Howard Ashman
† Lyrics by Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater
The songs "Where I Belong" (Eric) and Ursula's reprise of "Her Voice" were cut from the musical after the out-of-town tryout in Denver. The "Finale" was re-worked after the Denver tryout. It included a short reprise of "Fathoms Below". Also, the duet between Ariel and Eric was originally a bit longer with a poetic device about he being her land and she being his sea.Three other songs were cut from the show before the tryout started but were available on the leaked demo tape. These included Ursula's "Wasting Away", "All Good Things Must End", and an alternate version of "Poor Unfortunate Souls (Reprise)". The songs "Under the Sea (Reprise)" and "Les Poissons (Reprise)" are included on the original Broadway cast recording as separate tracks, though on the show's Playbill "Under the Sea" is not mentioned as a reprise.There were several songs that were written but never available in any recorded format to the general public. These included a reprise of "The World Above" by Ariel, a song called "That Oughta Show Her" and a reprise for it by Sebastien and Triton, and "Ursula's Incantation II" (which was written before the plot point of Vanessa was dropped). The Entr'acte is not listed and does not have a track on the Original Broadway Cast recording.
European version 
The European, revamped version of The Little Mermaid, now playing in Utrecht in the Netherlands, Moscow, Russia, and Tokyo, Japan, has a slightly altered songlist (different order, omitted, replaced or combined songs). Carlotta was entirely omitted from the European version, leaving Grimsby with her lines in Beyond My Wildest Dreams.
- Act I
* These songs were written for the revamped version.
Casting and Characters 
|Character||Original Broadway Cast||Original Dutch Cast||Character Description|
|Princess Ariel||Sierra Boggess||Tessa van Tol||The beautiful, adventurous and headstrong primary protagonist of the musical, dreaming of life on land instead of "under the sea". She is the youngest daughter of King Triton, and the apparent niece of Ursula.|
|Prince Eric||Sean Palmer||Tommie Christiaan||The musical's handsome and hopeful secondary protagonist. He is destined to recover the girl that saved him from drowning, ignorant to the fact that it is Ariel, with whom he eventually falls in love.|
|King Triton||Norm Lewis||Roberto de Groot||The strict but caring father of Ariel, and ruler over Atlantica. He originally hates humans, due to the loss of his wife, causing him to commonly reprimand Ariel for her constant human explorations, but eventually realizes it is best to let her follow her dreams. He is the apparent brother of Ursula.|
|Ursula||Sherie Rene Scott||Marjolijn Touw||The musical's sinister and cunning primary antagonist. She tricks Ariel into trading her voice for a pair of human legs in order to hopefully win Prince Eric's heart, only to attempt to take advantage of Ariel's naivety. She is the apparent sister of King Triton, and aunt of Ariel.|
|Sebastian||Tituss Burgess||Juan Wells||Ariel's musical and practical guardian, Triton's faithful servant, and court composer. He serves as the musical's primary comic relief, and reluctantly assists Ariel in her efforts to charm Prince Eric.|
|Flounder||Cody Hanford and J.J. Singleton†, Trevor Braun and Brian D'Addario||Barry Beijer||Ariel's loyal companion. He often accompanies Ariel on her excursions in search of human artifacts.|
|Scuttle||Eddie Korbich||Paul Dick Cohen||He believes he is an expert on human artifacts, although he is mainly incorrect, and is often consulted by Ariel for information on her discovered "treasures". He also serves as a comic relief, alongside Sebastian.|
|Flotsam||Tyler Maynard||Bas Timmers||One of Ursula's sly and slippery henchmen.|
|Jetsam||Derrick Baskin||Barry Beijer||Another one of Ursula's cunning henchmen.|
|Grimsby||Jonathan Freeman||Alfred van den Heuvel||Prince Eric's faithful servant and friend. Seemingly a close friend of Eric's late father, Grimsby's main initiative is to ensure that Eric marries a princess to maintain his promise to the deceased king. However, he realizes Ariel is, a princess, and is more than happy to let them wed.|
|Chef Louis||John Treacy Egan||Ger Otte||The castle chef, who tries to capture Sebastian and cook him for dinner.|
|Carlotta||Heidi Blickenstaff||(The Dutch production and subsequent replica productions omits this character)||Carlotta is seemingly the castle's primary maid and housekeeper. Despite the remarks of her fellow maids and servants, she is exceptionally kind to Ariel and does her best to make her feel comfortable.|
† Cody Hanford and J.J. Singleton were first casted as Flounder, but had to leave the show shortly after opening because they had grown taller than Sierra Boggess. Trevor Braun and Brian D'Addario replaced them. D'Addario was the vocalist on the original cast recording and performed on the show's opening night.
Junior version 
MTI created a junior version of the musical to be performed by middle and high school students. This version omits several songs including "The World Above," "I Want the Good Times Back," "Her Voice," "Sweet Child," "Positoovity," "Beyond My Wildest Dreams," and "If Only." The remaining songs are significantly shortened with repeats and extra verses cut out of several, which at times leads to awkward key changes and unmusical segues. All main characters of the Broadway show remain with extra parts such as merfolk, sea creatures, tentacles, gulls, lagoon animals, and others added in to suit larger casts. The script is adapted from the original libretto with several scenes and lines edited or removed. This includes more child friendly lines and humor. For example, in Act I of the Jr. version, Scuttle responds to Sebastian's grumpiness with, "Can you believe that guy? What a crab!"
Differences between the Musical and Film 
- The shark chase sequence that introduces Ariel and Flounder has been removed and replaced with "The World Above".
- Ursula's magic shell is just a large nautilus shell, whereas in the 1989 film it is a necklace.
- In the musical (like in early versions of the film), Ursula is King Triton's sister.
- Ursula and Triton are equal, and upon the death of their father, Poseidon, Ursula received the magic shell while her brother received the trident. Each ruled half the oceans, until Ursula's cruelty and use of black magic led to Triton deposing her and assuming full reign over the entire ocean world. This is changed for the European version, where Ursula is Triton's older sister and receives a magic ball (instead of shell) as a gift from her father to keep her difficult behaviour under control. With it she kills her older sisters, her father and rules the ocean up until the time that her brother Triton comes of age and takes her throne.
- The "Under the Sea" sequence has been moved to after King Triton destroys Ariel's collection of human things rather than before. In the European version this scene is back where it was in the movie.
- The magic shell allows Ursula to spy on people, so she does not "use" Flotsam and Jetsam's eyes as in the film.
- Eric's sheepdog Max is not included.
- Ursula's alter ego Vanessa is not included, thereby omitting the subplot of Eric's brainwashing by her as well as the subsequent end. In place of the Vanessa subplot, there is a contest with foreign princesses singing songs to see if Eric can recognize any of them to have Ariel's voice.
- In the musical, Ariel does not receive her voice back until after she is turned back into a mermaid.
- In the movie, Flotsam and Jetsam are killed when Ursula accidentally zaps them with the trident; in the musical they swim away after Ariel takes Ursula's magic shell and their fate is unknown after that.
- Ursula is destroyed simply by breaking the magic shell, as her becoming a giant and subsequent impalement on a ship would be too complicated to stage.
- In the European version Triton and Ariel find out (during the last confrontation) that Ursula killed Ariel's mother.
Original Broadway Cast Recording 
|Disney's The Little Mermaid: Original Broadway Cast Recording|
|Soundtrack album by Cast of The Little Mermaid|
|Released||February 26, 2008|
|Recorded||December 15, 2007 – December 17, 2007|
|Genre||Pop, Musical theatre|
Disney's The Little Mermaid: Original Broadway Cast Recording is the cast album for the 2008 musical. It features performances from the show's cast, which includes Tituss Burgess, Sherie Rene Scott, Norm Lewis, Eddie Korbich, and newcomer Sierra Boggess as Ariel, the little mermaid. The cast recording contains twenty-nine songs from the musical, with music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater. Much of the music is from the original film along with scores and 10 new songs by Menken and Slater.
Audience response of the targeted family demographic to the musical has been generally positive. Critics have given the production a mixed response, with some praising the show, and some calling it "less than witty" and "bloated". Ben Brantley of the New York Times was especially critical, saying that the "charm-free" musical is "stripped of the movie’s generation-crossing appeal. Coherence of plot, endearing quirks of character, even the melodious wit of the original score (supplemented by new, substandard songs...) have been swallowed by an unfocused spectacle...." Time Magazine, however, commented, "It was one of the most ravishing things I have ever seen on a Broadway stage."
Awards and nominations 
|2008||Tony Awards||Best Original Score||Alan Menken (music), Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater (lyrics)||Nominated|
|Best Lighting Design of a Musical||Natasha Katz||Nominated|
|Drama Desk Awards||Outstanding Actress in a Musical||Sierra Boggess||Nominated|
|Outstanding Set Design||George Tsypin||Nominated|
|Outstanding Lighting Design||Natasha Katz||Nominated|
|Outer Critics Circle Awards||Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical||Sherie Rene Scott||Nominated|
|Drama League Award||Distinguished Performance Award||Sierra Boggess||Nominated|
|Broadway.com Audience Awards||Favorite New Broadway Musical||Nominated|
|Favorite Leading Actress in a Broadway Musical||Sierra Boggess||Nominated|
|Favorite Featured Actor in a Broadway Musical||Tituss Burgess||Nominated|
|Favorite Featured Actress in a Broadway Musical||Sherie Rene Scott||Nominated|
|Favorite Diva Performance||Sherie Rene Scott||Nominated|
|Favorite Breakthrough Performance (Female)||Sierra Boggess||Won|
|Favorite New Broadway Song||"If Only"||Nominated|
|Favorite New Broadway Song||"She's In Love"||Nominated|
|Grammy Awards||Best Musical Show Album||Nominated|
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