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Theater Wed Jul 15 2015

A 4-Year-Old Reviews Chicago Shakespeare Theater's The Little Mermaid

littlemermaid.jpg

Photo: Liz Lauren for Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Review by Elena, age 4:

This Ariel thing is during my nap time. I took a nap yesterday so mom let me skip it today.

I like the movie more because it's longer -- that didn't have everything. In the movie Ariel went away for a little bit, that's my favorite part. I think she goes into her room.

I didn't like Ursula's fins or her dress -- she wasn't very scary, except when she got big.

I did jump when the cook was chasing Sebastian. How does he put his chompers on?

Ariel was my favorite because her sisters were annoying. Flounder had pretty cool shoes to help him swim.

Mom liked the new ending better because Ariel smashes the shell.


Review by Mike, age 29:

Chicago Shakespeare Theater's The Little Mermaid is a splashy dive through the Disney classic angling to hook guppies into musical theater.

OK, now the fish puns are out of the way.

Elena covered most of the important parts, and really, this is a play custom-built for kids. The pace is quick and the physical humor, dancing, and visuals are nonstop. While the original movie runs for 92 minutes, the musical is 75 minutes with a few extra songs thrown into the mix.

Flitting through the action means there's little time for epic set pieces like other Disney productions (ahem, Lion King). And once you get to the ending it feels pretty abrupt. When the boy in front of me asked his dad "is Ursula dead?" I wasn't sure what happened either.

But Elena's mom usually fast-forwards through the scary parts anyway.

It's still an impressive production given its breakneck speed. Rachel Eskenazi-Gold's Ariel feels authentic, even as she's suspended by ropes or performing without her voice. The young Matthew Uzarraga's Flounder is impressive even beyond his cool shoes. And Rebecca Finnegan's Ursula is sassy and really entertaining to watch.

The Chicago Shakespeare Theater adds to the magic itself, its wooden interior surrounding the round stage like a flotilla of tall ships. As characters swim through the aisles, kids get to see up close what make-believe looks like on a grand scale.

Honestly, I wouldn't brave Navy Pier to see The Little Mermaid unless I had a little one in tow. But watching Elena sit still for over an hour, barely glancing away from the stage except to smile in my direction, was worth the price of admission.

Hopefully she'll fall for the theater hook, line, and sinker.

The Little Mermaid continues at Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier through August 16 with performances at 11am and 2pm most days Wednesday-Sunday. Tickets can be bought for $22-34 online or by calling 312-595-5600.

 
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Melissa / July 16, 2015 12:33 PM

Matthew Uzarraga plays Flounder and Joseph Anthony Byrd plays Sebastian

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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »

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