|Under the sea at the Hollywood Records Party, probably trying to find John Stamos|
I attended the first night of The Little Mermaid Live at The Hollywood Bowl, and in short, it was full of Disney magic. (I didn’t expect anything less, though.)
The iconic amphitheater had hoards of Disney fans in attendance: families with young children – who, surprisingly, loved Ariel just as much as Elsa and Anna — and 20-somethings; an eclectic mix of older and younger generations that you’d see gallivanting around Disneyland.
|The Hollywood (Fish) Bowl|
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this performance – was this the Broadway musical? Was the cast going to sit on stage and take turns reading lines and singing songs? Would they be dressed in character?
It was the perfect culmination of the classic Disney movie that tapped into the musical prowess of its performers. Alan Menken, the man behind all of our favorite animated classics, kicked off the show by performing a medley of all his songs. He introduced the “Hot Crustacean Band” — the orchestra — and welcomed us to The Hollywood (Fish) Bowl.
He explained that there would be four additional songs added to the performance from the Broadway musical. At this point, we weren’t aware of exactly what was going to transpire. Then the lights when down at sunset, and the giant screens it up with Disney’s trademark logo and jingle.
They played the entire movie! Here’s how the show was performed:
As the movie played, the orchestra performed the score live.
All speaking parts were kept from the original movie.
During a musical number, a small pause would occur so introduce the performer(s) and then the orchestra would start back up, with the movie perfectly synced to the live music.
During songs that weren’t featured in the movie, they showcased sketches from the film.
For lack of better words? IT WAS AWESOME. I had chills when the movie started. Being in a city with so much history, watching my favorite Disney movie in an iconic setting? It was truly a once in a lifetime experience. They had a small fireworks display go off during the scene where Prince Eric’s ship catches fire, along with a full-blown show to finish off the movie.
For those wondering, the cast did come out in costume! And in terms of the performances, I was most impressed with Rebel Wilson. Admittedly, I wasn't that excited about her in the role, and I’m not sure why, because I enjoy her in movies. But she knocked Ursula out of the park — she perfectly captures the fulsomeness of the villain and her accent was spectacular, too. She added humor to the role, which, thinking about it, Ursula was always funny character, but you don’t realize it until you’re adult watching the movie. People were in stitches during "Pour Unfortunate Souls." Her outfit was spectacular too — a long, sequined gown that looked purple as she moved, and a kickass wig that I absolutely need in my life. (I have been trying to master Ursula's look for Halloween for years and it’s really, really hard to make the look attractive! Bravo to all the artists online that pull it off.)
Sara Bareilles was a great Ariel. Fantastic voice, but nobody is surprised by that. She wore a glittery teal gown and red extensions in her brunette hair to pay homage to the character.
Two original cast members from the OG version of the musical took the stage: Norm Lewis as King Triton and Tituss Burgess as the leader of the hot crustacean band, Sebastian. It goes without saying that Tituss crushed "Under the Sea" and "Kiss the Girl."
Darren Criss was an adorable Prince Eric, who performed a song on guitar, and John Stamos made insane French Chef Louis particularly sexy. (But when isn’t he?)
The four songs they included from the musical were:
"She’s in Love" — Ariel’s sisters and Flounder (the precious 13-year-old Joshua Colley, who has been in Les Mis and Newsies on Broadway)
"If Only" — Ariel, Sebastian, Prince Eric and King Triton
"The World Above" — King Triton
"Her Voice" — Prince Eric (which Darren sang on guitar with the orchestra)
At the end of the show, Sara brought out the original voice of Ariel, Jodi Benson, to perform an encore of "Part of Your World." You could have heard a pin drop. As a Disney fan, it’s hard to describe seeing a voice from your childhood performing a song you sang while pretending to be Ariel on a regular basis — again, it was magical.
We ended the night at the Hollywood Records after party, which was setup to look like we were under the sea. And the cast showed up! I met Jodi Benson, Rebel Wilson, Darren Criss and Tituss Burgess — who, for whatever reason, thought we knew each other? I told him we were just kindred spirits and then made him take a selfie. He didn’t disappoint. I also ran into Patrick Starrr and Manny Gutierrez (Manny MUA) at the party — they're so warm and fun, and really good people, too.
Darren was charming — he engaged one of my friends who went to the University of Michigan (his alma mater) in the fight song, and then had his friend take a picture of all of us together so we could all be in the photo. I asked him about his favorite Disney movie, too. (Only stipulation was he couldn't say The Little Mermaid.)
“My favorite? Or the best of all time?”
“Let’s go with your favorite.”
“Aladdin, because I’m a boy. But of all time? Beauty and the Beast, obviously.”
And there you have it.