Stars Shine Bright in TownSquare Players’ The Little Mermaid

TownSqaure Players’ production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid at the Woodstock Opera House sets a new standard for community theater. The production is produced by Margaret Miller and Janaan Rose.

The Little Mermaid is a stage musical based on the 1989 Disney animated movie of the same name. The musical takes the story of the Hans Christian Anderson folktale in which a mermaid who dreams of the world above the sea gives up her voice to walk among humans and pursue her true love.

The Little Mermaid features music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater, and a book by Doug Wright.

Director, Choreographer, and Scenic Designer Billy Seger has outdone himself in all capacities, while Vocal Director Susan Falbo’s work complements his brilliantly.

In the title role of The Little Mermaid (Ariel), Deanna Golema is simply radiant. Her voice is effortlessly phenomenal and her dance and acting talents shine equally as strong. Golema belongs in the spotlight. She should seriously consider a move to New York while she is at the pinnacle of her talents and still young enough to give it a legitimate go for a Broadway career.

As King Triton, Travis Greuel strikes a commanding presence complimented by a surprisingly tender voice.

As the villain of the piece, Christy Sturm is a sheer delight oozing with evil. Her Fosse-inspired henchmen Floatsam and Jetsam, Austin Elliott and Aaron Gomez are a wickedly fun pair.

Ethan Sherman possesses the classic good looks and fine voice to be convincing as Ariel’s human love interest Prince Eric. The prince’s guardian Grimsby is aptly played by David Gasior.

Providing perfect comedic relief, Ben Carver as Scuttle, James Gritschke as Sebastian, and Matthew Savas as Flounder are individual delights and soar in their solo numbers.

The ensemble is strong in this production, led by Carson Brandenburg, Danielle Klein, Bridget Kuehnert, Erin O’Brien, Agnes Tech, and Savannah Thomas as Ariel’s multi-talented sister mermaids. Also standing out in the ensemble is Eric Torres as chef Louie. Rounding out the top-notch ensemble are Elaine B. Cashmore, Matthew Lucchetti, Noah Richardson, Jared Ritter, Peri Sindberg, and Kevin Wright.

The actors are well accompanied by a brilliant orchestra under the conduction of Rosemarie Aiello. The orchestra is comprised of Barb Klein on piano; John Gogolewki on keyboards; Aiello on violin; Carolyn Awe, Korrin Bird, Dave Childress, and Sue Childress on reeds; Greg Conrad on bass, Mineo Patrick Yasutake and Paul Wood on cello; Dave Byers and Nathan Rigg on drums/percussion; and Brian Anderson and Miller on brass.

Dazzling costumes and an amazing set aid in creating the dual words of under and above the sea. Costumes, wigs, and makeup are the brainchild of William Roberts well-aided by Teagan Anderson. Set design is by Seger, Joe McCormack, Tiffany Matras, and Brent White with set dressing by Shannon Lee Day and Desiree Richardson. Set construction is by White.

The production is kept moving at an unfaltering pace by Stage Manager Spencer White and a stage crew comprised of the Student Mentor Program and Friends of TownSquare Players.

Without a doubt, Disney’s The Little Mermaid is a fantasy worth losing yourself in. It is nimbly put together to entertain both children and adults.

The Little Mermaid plays Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays at the Woodstock Opera House (121 Van Buren Street, Woodstock, IL 60098). For tickets contact the Box Office at (815) 338-5300 or visit www.WoodstockOperaHouse.com.

Peace. Love. Trust.

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