I adore the theater. Any chance I have to see a Broadway show, I take it. So I was quite excited when my husband and I took our boys to their very first play at a local middle school to see “The Lion King.”
The boys love the Disney movie and know all the songs by heart. I was very impressed by the quality of the performance by the students. We were all completely entranced the entire time. The dialogue was straight from the movie and the songs were spot on. We all walked away thoroughly entertained.
After such a great experience, I jumped at the opportunity to take the boys to see “The Little Mermaid,” a professional production by the Charm City Players at the Weinberg Auditorium in Baltimore. Tickets were only $15 a person, we were able to pick our seats and sat right near the front. I wanted to take the higher-priced “Tea with Ariel” package, since “The Little Mermaid” is one of my favorite Disney movies, but I didn’t think my boys would be interested.
When we arrived, the lobby was filled with cute character stand-ups for picture taking and free face-painting by some of the mermaid characters from the play.
Once at our seats, we admired the creative seascape decorations around the stage. A live orchestra was backstage and when the music started, the smoke machines turned on, and the twinkling light effects created an ocean floor ambiance. We all held our breath in anticipation.
During the overture my 4-year-old son, Jame’s smile got bigger and bigger as he recognized each song. Suddenly Ariel came rolling out onto the stage. All of the sea characters wore skate shoes with wheels that pop out. Ariel had on a seaweed-like skirt that covered her legs and a mermaid tail that rose up behind her. Combined with the skates, it created the illusion of swimming as she and the other characters glided across the stage.
For the next hour or so my boys barely moved. As the production progressed, I noticed a lot of changes from the original Disney movie, such as variations in dialogue and new songs. I realized that this play was based on the Broadway show and some of the lines and plot changes seemed geared more towards adults. Most of it went over my kids’ heads, but I would have liked it better if it had been more true to the original story.
The play was almost 2 1/2 hours long, not including the intermission. Surprisingly, my kids hung in there quite well, but I noticed a lot of younger children getting antsy and bored near the end, especially during some of the solos. But there was plenty of kid-friendly humor, familiar songs and special effects throughout to make the show well worth the length.
At the end, many of the characters came into the lobby to greet and take pictures with the audience. Ursula, however, stayed on the stage for greeting and pictures. I thought this was smart since my 2-year-old was quite frightened of her, and would not have been happy to see her walking around. Her large octopus costume probably would have made that difficult as well. James, meanwhile, couldn’t wait to get his picture taken with all his favorite characters. All of the actors and actresses were so nice and seemed to really enjoy talking with each child.
As we were leaving James said to me, “Mom, I really wish we could bring Ariel and her sisters home to live with us.”
“The Little Mermaid” runs through July 17 and tickets can be purchased on the Charm City Players website. I’ve marked my calendar for a few of the upcoming family shows such as “Beauty and the Beast” (Nov. 12-27) and “Peter Pan” (summer 2017).
Now if only I can get “Under the Sea” out of my head.
Mandy Watts is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Crownsville with her husband, Justin, who runs their family business, and their two sons, 4-year-old James and 2-year-old Luke.