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Disney’s The Little Mermaid, J.E.B. Stuart High School, Falls Church, Virginia, April 13, 2018

Emily Lachow

McLean High School


With flaming red hair, a gleaming green tail, and a voice sweeping through white-crested waves, our favorite little mermaid plunged the audience into the sea before we could gasp for air. Is the seaweed indeed always greener down under the sea, or are the sandy shores of land worth sacrificing sea life, a tail, and a voice for? Riding the waves of this fin-tastic Disney classic, JEB Stuart hooked its audience with a whimsical, magical, and delightful rendition of The Little Mermaid.


This classic story, which follows mermaid Ariel's journey to find love with the human Prince Eric, first enchanted audiences as an 1837 Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale. Most people, however, are more familiar with the 1989 Disney film, which garnered two Academy Awards for Best Song and Best Score. It was adapted into a Broadway musical in 2007 with ten new songs.


The demure and graceful Mary Harrell was the epitome of a Disney princess; with bubbly physicality and vocals as pure as gently lapping waves, she truly shone as Ariel. Harrell's youthful exuberance added a refreshing burst of vibrancy to each of her scenes. As her human prince, Sam Wells was endearingly charming. The two together conveyed the tender love story between Ariel and Eric with laudable dedication.


Elijah Williams' performance as Sebastian was, in a word, crabulous. He anchored the ensemble of "Under the Sea" with a boat-load of energy and an impressive vocal range. In contrast with Williams' jolly demeanor, Andrea Pedemonte certainly delivered as the tale's Disney villain. Vicious, tenacious, and tentacular, Pedemonte stepped into Ursula's gills with an admirably fierce presence. Her performance was further enhanced by the eels slithering around her; Darien Roby and Deema Alharthi hissed and swirled cohesively, matching each other in intensity and vocal quality. Bringing some "positoovity" was Bella Lanoue-Chapman's hilariously gawky Scuttle. Lanoue-Chapman's every scene elicited bubbles of laughter from the audience, using a loud, proud, and squeaky voice to sound like a bumbling seagull.


The makeup crew of this production didn't need a trident to bring the magic of The Little Mermaid to life. Impressively well-executed contour, with an array of bright colors, marvelously created the scales and fins of sea creatures. The choreography, by Andrea Pedemonte, also breathed life into the show, with the smooth and jolting movements of "Fathoms Below" and charmingly awkward tap number "Positoovity."


JEB Stuart's The Little Mermaid submerged the audience in an ocean of love, magic, and fun. In an evening full of charm, these students proved that this timeless tale still has the power to unite sea and shore.

Allanah Rivera

McLean High School


At J.E.B. Stuart High School, they've got the spirit—and you've got to hear it! With their production of Disney's, The Little Mermaid, the energetic cast and stunning technical elements brought the audience under the sea for a splashing evening of fun.


Based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale and 1989 animated film, Disney's The Little Mermaid swam onto the Broadway stage in 2008 and received two Tony nominations, including Best Original Score. The beloved story follows Princess Ariel, a mermaid with aspirations of finding true love and joining the human world up above. She gives up her voice in exchange for legs to follow her dreams, and, in doing so, learns that love is felt instead of heard.


As the titular character, Mary Harrell perfectly personified the spunk and determined nature of Ariel, her youthful and enthusiastic energy shining as bright as her fiery red hair. Harrell's sweet soprano fit the character to a tee, particularly in her iconic song, "Part of Your World." However, the fact that Harrell so expertly embodied her character even without being able to speak for much of the show spoke to her incredible dexterity as an actress, and truly made her a standout of the evening.


Elijah Williams stole the show as Ariel's crustaceous companion, Sebastian. His animated facial expressions and comical line delivery constantly kept the audience laughing, while his powerful vocals—including an impeccable falsetto—brought the house down in numbers such as "Under the Sea" and "Kiss the Girl." Alongside Williams was Naomi Bertha in the role of Flounder, whose adorably bubbly personality captured everyone's hearts. As the sultry sea witch, Ursula, Andrea Pedemonte wowed with her spot-on humor and knockout vocals in "Poor Unfortunate Soul." Also commendable was Sam Wells as Prince Eric, whose charm and smooth vocals made Ariel—and the audience—swoon.


The stellar work of the technical crews brought the vibrant aquatic world to life through the colorful lighting on the cyclorama, creative sets, and flashy costumes. Every crew worked together to create a unified look that was fresh and imaginative without straying too far from the classic feel of the show. The makeup team (Leilani Curran and Tess Wadson) created unique looks for every character, each of whom was distinctive and bold without being overtly fishy, lending a subtle sense of sophistication to the production.


The Little Mermaid is one of those nostalgic shows at brings joy to young and old alike, and the students of J.E.B. Stuart High School made the audience fall in love with this enchanted tale of triumph and true love all over again.


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