Thursday February 22nd 2018

“The Little Mermaid”

mermaid2 Highly Recommended ***** Everyone knows that when the name “Disney” is attached to a story, no matter the story, it is sure to be done in a spectacular way. That is their history and we are living proof that it has been very effective in our lives. One of the amazing stories written by Hans Christian Andersen, “The Little Mermaid”, was converted into a Disney animated film, an amazing hit with some vibrant music  (Alan Menken) and lyrical lyrics (Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater) with a modern day book by Doug Wright. I do not have to elaborate on the story, I am sure. BUT, for those of you who do not recall, or by some chance have never heard the basis, it is the story of two worlds. The world of the sea, where Ariel (Kari Yancy is sheer perfection in this role), a mermaid dreams of what life would be like in the “human” world. Her father, King Triton (deftly handled by Evan Tyrone Martin) has shielded his daughters (she has 6 sisters) from the “Human” world believing that they are responsible for his wife’s death.

Meanwhile, in the “Human” world, there lives a young Prince Eric ( Devin DeSantis truly shows his leading man talents in this role) who loves the sea and sailing and does not truly want to be the King. He is about to become the proper age and his guardian Grimsby (George Keating once again shows why he is one of Chicago’s best character actors- he also take son the role of the Chef in the second act with a mind boggling rendition of “les  Poissons”) goes out of his way to find the perfect match. It turns out, earlier, Eric and Ariel had a chance meeting and both felt something special. It is only when they seek each other and Ariel’s evil aunt Ursula (a fine portrayal by Christina Hall) has taken away her voice that the two youngsters find that attaining ones dreams is not as easy as one might think.mermaid5

In fact, there are several messages hidden in this wonderful story. One is about hating or disliking people or species that are “different” just because they are “different”. A very important one in today’s social system. Also, that a father can love his child and protect them, but there does come a time to allow them to slip and fall and learn from their own mistakes. Great messages, to be sure!

When it was announced that Paramount Theatre would take on Disney’s “The Little Mermaid”, knowing that Jim Corti was at the helm, I expected a magical production. There have been some mini-productions in the past. Most about an mermaid9hour and truly just parts of the story and music. Corti brought on Amber Mak to take the helm as Director and Choreographer, and one can see from the outcome that she knew the story, knew what she wanted and knew exactly how to achieve her dreams (just like Ariel). An absolutely amazing mix of musical comedy, puppetry and story-telling allow the audience to sit, pretty much “spell-bound” for two-and-a-half glorious hours!

mermaid6The cast is stronger that even I expected and I imagine the Jeff people will be going crazy on this one. Sebastian , the Crab is played to perfection (and then some) by Jonathan Butler-Duplessis. He is one cool dude/crab! Flounder is handled by two different young actors-tonight Ricky Falbo and on other performances Murphy Byrne. Adorable character building. Michael Ehlers is a powerful Scuttle. Remember, these are puppets and they are with them every second blending the magic of puppetry and acting. They dance as well! Evil fish (Ursula’s side-kicks) are played by John Adam Keating (Jetsam)  and Adam Fane (Flotsam). These are roles where they truly become the puppets, or do the puppets take them over?

The ensemble is one of high energy, playing many roles: Aaaron Patrick Craven, Anthony Sullivan Jr., J.Tyler Whitmer,Rob Riddle, Ciera Dawn, Gilbert Domally, Megan E. Farley, Allyson Graves, Madison Kauffman, Kayla Kennedy, Eric A. Lewis, Mallory Maedke, Jake Morrisy, Zoe Nadal, Maurice Randle Jr. Haley Jane Schafer, Will Skrip and Charlie Ward. GREAT WORK! The orchestra, conducted by Tom Vendafreddo uses roughly 13 musicians to sound like a full orchestra. The music is magnificent and yet, never overpowering. We hear every word of every song. Songs such as “The World Above”, “Part Of Your World”, the show-stopping “Under The Sea”, “One Step Closer”, the powerful “If Only” and Ursula’s “Poor Unfortunate Souls” are all excellent memories that will leave the theater with you.

The set design by Jeffrey D. Kmiec, the lighting by Jesse Klug and projections by Mike Tutaj as well as the costumes designed by Theresa Ham are as well done as any Broadway production one can imagine. Part of the magic at Paramount is that they put a production on their stage that is what theater should be- MAGICAL! The technical aspects, the flying (yes, Ariel does swim before our eyes) and one would have to say that this is a MUST SEE for not just kids, but for those who are young at heart.mermaid7

The Paramount Theatre is located in Aurora at 23 East Galena Blvd, in the heart of “downtown” Aurora ( the second largest city in Illinois) with performances as follows:

Wed, Nov 30: 1:30pm & 7:00pm
Thu, Dec 1: 7:00pm
Fri, Dec 2: 8:00pm
Sat, Dec 3: 3:00pm & 8:00pm
Sun, Dec 4: 1:00pm & 5:30pm
Wed, Dec 7: 1:30pm & 7:00pm
Thu, Dec 8: 7:00pm
Fri, Dec 9: 8:00pm
Sat, Dec 10: 3:00pm & 8:00pm
Sun, Dec 11: 1:00pm & 5:30pm
Wed, Dec 14: 1:30pm & 7:00pm
Thu, Dec 15: 7:00pm
Fri, Dec 16: 8:00pm
Sat, Dec 17: 3:00pm & 8:00pm
Sun, Dec 18: 1:00pm & 5:30pm
Wed, Dec 21: 1:30pm & 7:00pm
Thu, Dec 22: 7:00pm
Fri, Dec 23: 8:00pm
Sat, Dec 24: 12:00pm & 5:00pm
Wed, Dec 28: 1:30pm & 7:00pm
Thu, Dec 29: 7:00pm
Fri, Dec 30: 8:00pm
Sat, Dec 31: 3:00pm & 8:00pm
Sun, Jan 1: 1:00pm & 5:30pm
Wed, Jan 4: 1:30pm & 7:00pm
Thu, Jan 5: 7:00pm
Fri, Jan 6: 8:00pm
Sat, Jan 7: 3:00pm & 8:00pm
Sun, Jan 8: 1:00pm & 5:30pm
Thu, Jan 12: 10:00am
Fri, Jan 13: 8:00pm
Sat, Jan 14: 3:00pm & 8:00pm
Sun, Jan 15: 1:00pm & 5:30pm


Price: $44-$59

Show Type: Childrens BUT- I say, FAMILY

 to order tickets call the box office at: 630-896-6666

 online, visit

There is plenty of street parking (metered and not), lots around the area and Valet at the door.

To see what others are saying, visit, go to Review Round-Up and click at “The Little Mermaid”mermaid3

Leave a Comment

More from category

“Cosi Fan Tutte” review by Jacob Davis
“Cosi Fan Tutte” review by Jacob Davis

★★★★★ Sublime music mismatched with fluffy subject matter—that’s the long-standing criticism of Wolfgang [Read More]

“The Wolves”
“The Wolves”

As someone who has spent many years around soccer, in particular, girl’s/women’s soccer, watching the [Read More]

“Southern Gothic”
“Southern Gothic”

★★★★★Let me preface my review of the latest production at Windy City Playhouse, by explaining that it is not [Read More]

“Surely Goodness and Mercy”
“Surely Goodness and Mercy”

Highly Recommended **** One of my favorite “storefront” theaters is Redtwist, a PURE storefront on Bryn [Read More]


The actual title of the play now onstage at The Victory Gardens Theater is “Breach: a manifesto on race in [Read More]