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The Little Mermaid by Sgouros & Bell

THEATRE REVIEW: 'The Little Mermaid' offers Off-Broadway fun for the family

By Allison Reitz

Children's theatre company Literally Alive, now in residence at the Players Theatre in New York City, brings another classic piece of literature to life with its current production of "The Little Mermaid." The show opened February 5 and runs through May 22.

Based on the original Hans Christian Andersen story, "The Little Mermaid" is here revised for the stage with original music by Michael Sgouros, and book and lyrics by Brenda Bell. Like its source material, the bittersweet musical explores topics of sacrifice and the human soul. But with a nice balance of seriousness and silliness, "The Little Mermaid" is never out of the depth of its intended (young) audience.

The stage at Players Theatre is well utilized, serving as underwater kingdom, ship's deck, beach and palace at various points in the production. The entire cast is well-matched to the show, but during the reviewed opening show, Stefanie Smith and Eric Fletcher gave stand-out performances.

Credited as the show's director and choreographer, Smith also stars as the title mermaid, Coral, whose longing to be human leads to a difficult decision. She portrays the conflicted nature of her character with a sweet-natured innocence, and her talent as a singer and interpretive dancer is obvious.

Fletcher is similarly animated and engaging as King Neptune, the production's narrator and Coral's father. His kind, fatherly tone is well-suited to the young audience, whom he often addresses directly in his performance. Fletcher's part also includes two of the musical's most stirring numbers — "Pearls of Wisdom" and "Loving and Letting Go" — which nicely complement his rich voice.

Regular ticket prices for Sgouros and Bell's "The Little Mermaid" usually run from $25 to $40, with a pre-show arts workshop included in the price of admission. But TicketNews readers can save 20 percent on tickets by using "The Little Mermaid" discount code TNEWSLM.

The Players Theatre is located 115 MacDougal Street in New York, NY. Performances are 11 a.m. most Saturdays and Sundays through May 22, with additional 2 p.m. matinees on Thursday, February 24, and Tuesday, April 19. A complete production calendar is available on the musical's official Web site.

"The Little Mermaid" was reviewed in participation with TicketNews' Discount Theatre Program, which provides unique discount codes for Broadway, Off-Broadway, and other theatrical productions. For more information on the program or enrolling a production, visit our Discount Theatre Program page or e-mail Liz Hoffman.

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