Saturday, August 31, 2013

Disney The Little Mermaid – Music by Alan Menken - Lyrics by Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater – Book by Doug Wright

Samuel Petersen as Prince Eric and Lily Fanali as Ariel

By Joe Straw

“dee-lightful is on dee-stage.” – Me

Well, it’s been another glorious summer for dee-Lightful Productions.  The kids are back in school, older and wiser, and with a grand sense of their artistic selves.  The arts get so little attention these days that anywhere an artistic self gets to perform in front of an appreciative crowd it is an amazing thing.

And the crowds these days for dee-Lightful are not small, in fact they are packing them in, in the few nights they have the auditorium, with wonderful performances by little creatures. I don’t think I’ve seen anything like this.

And make no mistake about it; dee-Lightful does some wonderful work on stage. Just recently they completed The Music Man by Meredith Wilson and Franklin Lacey and a couple of weeks before that, Disney’s The Little Mermaid Music by Alan Menken, Lyrics by Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater, and Books by Doug Wright.  The Music Adapted and Arranged by David Weinstein is based on the Hans Christian Andersen Story and the Disney Film.  

I remembered looking at the poster for The Little Mermaid in 1997 before it came out.  It did not look like your typical Disney fare.  There was simplicity in the artwork, not bad, just different.  My first impression was that Disney was going in another direction.  But the songs were impressive, the characters real and very different, and there was a religious undercurrent swimming around down there. I had a great time watching that film!

And I had another great time watching dee-Lightful’s production of Disney The Little Mermaid produced by and directed by Dolores Aguanno at the Veterans’ Memorial Auditorium in Culver City.

There was a tremendous effort on stage to get the audience under the sea and on land and this could not have been done with all of the volunteer help that is needed for this production with a cast and crew of thousands (slight exaggeration).

Mika Barocio was Pilot.  Samuel Petersen did another fine job as Prince Eric and has a very nice voice and a commanding presence.   Mika Stambler played Grimsby.

Lily Fanali played Ariel and she has a very fine voice and was very sympathetic in the role.

Eden Tigay was a very tiny Flounder.

Emma deZarn as Sebastian and Lily Fanali as Ariel

Emma deZarn was Sebastian, had a wonderful costume, and danced her way into the hearts and minds of those characters on the stage and the audience as well.  Under The Sea was one of my favorite songs. 

Jessie Grimaldo played Scuttle, Evyn Armstrong was Gull 1, Socorro Park was Gull 2, and Uma Kolesnikow was Gulls 3.

Keaton Asma had a commanding presence as King Triton, triton included.

The Mersisters were exceptional: Aquata was Eliza Spear, Adrina was Lauren Tishkoff, Arista was Emily Greenstein, Atina was Kyra Lianos, Adella was Shayna Graff, and Allana was Angelina Cicchini.

Carly Shiever as Ursula 

Ursula is a great role and Carly Shiever made the most of it.  Shiever wore a wig that enhanced her character and she seemed to be having the time of her life on stage.

There was something sinister about Flotsam played by Jeremy Greenstein and Jetsam played by Levi Kessler.  I enjoyed their performances.

Max Lianos was a hoot as Chef Louie as the Les Poisson number was very funny!  The other Chefs were Max, Mika, Thistle and Keaton.

Thistle Boosinger was Carlotta.

The Princesses were Mirabel Armstrong, Laura Vlahakis, Alyssa Uyeda, Reese Schiffman, Livi Plesent, and Isabel Parra and all had their moments above the sea.

The Sea Creatures also provided another layer of realism under the sea.  Those acting in that capacity were Mira Saville as the Blowfish, Ayla Moses as Newt, Happy Boosinger as Carp, Cosette Okker as Plaice, Arden Malsin as Bass, Jadyn Plesent as Chub, Ian Warfield as Fluke, Keaton Asma as Sea Horse.

The Seaweed Chorus was Mirabel Armstrong, Thistle Boosinger, Joe Call, Garrett DeFaria, Sean DeFaria, Zara Dershowitz, Connor Edwards, Paige Natoli, Isabel Parra, Livi Plesent, Reese Schiffman, Alyssa Uyeda, and Calista Kimura.

The actors who provided another layer of realism to the Ursula character were the Tentacles.  They were Evyn Armstrong, Zara Dershowitz, Dyllen Nellis, and Socorro Park.

“One smile and suddenly nobody else will do.” – One from a Chorus Line

Sometimes you go to these musicals hoping for the best, finding characters that are richly developed, and smiles that will lift you off your feet.  I saw that in this production and would encourage Dolores Aguanno, the director and producers to keep doing what she is doing

I did not see the Gizmos cast perform on the night I went but here they are as follows:

Pilot – Connor Edwards
Prince Eric – Garrett DeFaria
Grimsby – Sean DeFaria
Ariel – Isabel Parra
Flounder – Dyllen Nellis
Sebastian – Mirabel Armstrong
Scuttle – Joe Call
Gull 1 – Emily Greenstein
Gull 2 – Jeremy Greenstein
Gulls 3 – Arden Malsin
King Triton – Nick Freedson

Aquata – Laura Vlahakis
Adrina – Reese Schiffman
Arista – Emily Greenstein
Atina – Alyssa Uyeda
Adella – Zara Dershowitz
Allana – Calista Kimura

Ursula – Livi Plesent
Flotsam – Evyn Armstrong
Jetsam – Socorro Park
Chef Louie – Eliza Spear
Carlotta – Lauren Tishloff

1 – Emma deZarn
2 – Thistle Boosinger
3 – Kyra Lianos
4 – Jessie Grimaldo
5 – Carly Shiever
6 – Lily Fanali

Sea Creatures:
Blowfish – Mira Saville
Newt –Ayla Moses
Carp – Happy Boosinger
Plaice – Cosette Okker
Bass – Uma Kolesnikow
Chub – Jadyn Plesent
Fluke – Ian Warfield
Sea Horse – Max Lianos
Jellyfish – Dyllen Nellis

Chefs:  Lauren, Garrett, Sean, Paige

Seaweed Chorus:
Thistle Boosinger
Angelina Cicchini
Emma deZarn
Lily Fanali
Jessie Grimaldo
Shayna Graff
Levi Kessler
Kyra Lianos
Paige Natoli
Carly Shiever
Eliza Spear
Mika Stambler

Angelina Cicchini
Jeremy Greenstein
Levi Kessler
Eden Tigay

Most of the cast member performed different roles on various nights giving everyone another chance to shine in another role.

Members of the dee-Lightful crew are as follows:

Choreographer – Allegra Williams
Guest Choreographer and Dance Instructor – Cindera Che
Group Vocal Director – Zoe Petersen
Individual Vocal Director – Madelyn Ross
Stage Manager – Christine Barocio
Asst. Stage Manager – Nick Freedson
Acting and dialect coach – Brandon Blum
French accent consultant and coach – Jeremy Blum
Costume Design and Construction – Maya Sherer (And what a fabulous job!)
Costume Crew – Christine Barocio, Jeremy Blum, Ben Hilsberg, Maya Sherer
Set Design – Yosi Drori and Dolores Aguanno
Set Construction Crew – Brandon Blum, Yosi Drori, David Park, Zoe and Samuel Peterson, John Stirrat, Allegra Williams
Steel Deck Platform – Adrian Funnell
Set Consultants – Dana Murphy, Yosi Drori
Sound Set-Up – Joseph Mangham, Zoe Petersen
Sound Board Operator – Joseph Mangham
Sound Cue Runner – Allegra Williams
Lighting Design and Set-up – Samuel Petersen
Light Board Operator – Jeremy Blum
Lighting Consultants – Joey Guthman, Eric Mitchell
Spotlight Operator – Mila Tigay
Dance Captain – Mika Barocio

The Backstage Crew, Props Crew, and the Hair & Make-up were up of the cast, crew and parents.

Poster Design – Dana Murphy
Publicity – Jeremy Blum, Kathy Eads, and Pam Fader (And the must be doing a great job because I see the posters all over town!)

Programs – Rochelle & Nino Fanali, and Laura Petersen

Front of House:
Box Office Manager – Laura Petersen
Ticket Sales – Penny Johnson, Laura Petersen
Concessions Manager – Carter Armstrong, Melissa Wilson
Concessions Sales – dee-Lightful Parents
Showgrams Manager – Chaille DeFaria
Parent Volunteer Coordinator – Kathy Eads, Laura Petersen
Emails and rosters – Laura Petersen
Website manager – Scott Malsin
Lobby Posterboards – Andy and Cathy Coon
Camp Director and Staff:  Dolores Aguanno, Zoe Petersen, Christine Barocio, Brandon Blum, Madelyn Ross, Allegra Williams, Jeremy Blum, Maya Sherer, Mika Barocia, Nick Freedson, and Samuel Petersen.

It’s no wonder things run as smoothly as they do at dee-Lightful there is a crew and support staff that is second to none!

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