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Tune Thursday: Fresh faces add new fun to Broadway’s “The Little Mermaid”

Tune Thursday: Fresh faces add new fun to Broadway’s “The Little Mermaid”

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It’s summer in NYC. The streets of flooded with tourists, looking for something new to sea … er … see on Broadway.

Well, over at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, a trio of new faces have just come aboard at “The Little Mermaid.” Which makes this Disney Theatrical Production definitely worth another look-sea … er … see.

Little Mermaid on Broadway
Chelsea Morgan Stock as Ariel in Disney's "The Little Mermaid" on Broadway.
Photo by Joan Marcus.
Copyright 2009 Disney Theatrical. All Rights Reserved

Truth be told, the show’s new Ariel -- Chelsea Morgan Stock – isn’t exactly a new face. She’s been with the Broadway production of Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” since the very beginning. Ms. Stock originated the role of Andrina (i.e. one of King Triton’s seven daughters) as well as understudying Sierra Boggess in the title role. But now that Ms. Boggess has swum off to London (So that Sierra can then reportedly play Christine in that “Phantom of the Opera” sequel that Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber is prepping), Chelsea has slipped into Ariel’s fins full-time.

As for “The Little Mermaid” ‘s new Ursula … Well, Faith Prince ain’t exactly a new face either. This Tony Award-winner is one of the real masters of musical comedy. Which is why the Broadway community was thrilled when Disney Theatrical asked Ms. Prince to come perform Howard Ashman, Alan Menken & Glen Slater’s memorable songs.

When I dropped by the Lunt-Fontanne earlier this year to check Faith’s Ursula, Ms. Prince did not disappoint. Mind you, her sea witch is decidedly different than Sherie Rene Scott’s (i.e. the actress who originated this role for the stage musical). Sherie always played Ursula as if she were some sort of undersea screen siren. A Norma Desmond of the deep, if you will.

The Little Mermaid on Broadway - Faith Prince as Ursula
Faith Prince as Ursula with Eric LaJuan and Tyler Maynard in Disney's "The Little Mermaid" on Broadway.
Photo by Joan Marcus. Copyright 2009 Disney Theatrical. All Rights Reserved

Whereas Ms. Prince … Well, while still nailing all of her songs and landing all of her laugh lines, Faith has done something bold. She grounded this fantasy character in reality. Which is why there’s now this little weird moment toward the end of “The Little Mermaid.” Where Ariel is getting ready to dispatch Ursula with King Triton’s trident and the sea witch is begging for her life … Because Faith Prince is such a good actress, for the first time ever, you sort of feel sorry for Ursula.

Which I’m not sure is exactly what “The Little Mermaid” ‘s creators were going for. I know for a fact that that’s not how this moment in the show originally played when Sherie Rene Scott was Ursula. But that’s one of the real joys of live theater, I guess. That you can drop a different actor into a particular role and suddenly scenes in a show start playing very differently.

Which is why it’s going to be really interesting to see how the Broadway version of “The Little Mermaid” plays now through August 30th. What with Drew Seeley replacing Sean Palmer as Prince Eric, it’s going to be intriguing to see what sort of impact the star of “Another Cinderella Story” (Which – FYI – has its Disney Channel premiere on July 11th) has on the box office. Whether ticket sales will surge once tween girls learn that the guy who set their hearts aflutter when he appeared in those “High School Musical, The Concert - Extreme Access Pass” arena shows is now live on stage at the Lunt-Fontanne.

Drew Seeley as Prince Eric in Disney's The Little Mermaid on Broadway
Drew Seeley as Prince Eric in Disney's "The Little Mermaid" on Broadway.
Photo by Joan Marcus. Copyright 2009 Disney Theatrical. All Rights Reserved

As to what the folks at Disney Theatrical have planned for “The Little Mermaid” after Seeley leaves the show later this summer, what they’ll do next in order to keep people excited about this Broadway musical, who can say? All I know is – when it comes to fish – it’s always best when they’re fresh. So I’d imagine that we’ll continue  to sea … er … see fresh talent coming on board at “The Little Mermaid.”

(Note to self: Enough with the nautical puns, already.)

This long-running musical continues at the Lunt-Fontanne Theater (205 West 46th Street). For further information of ticket prices & performance times, please click on this link.

Chelsea Morgan Stock and Drew Seeley in Disney's The Little Mermaid on Broadway
Chelsea Morgan Stock and Drew Seeley in
Disney's "The Little Mermaid" on Broadway.
Photo by Joan Marcus. Copyright 2009 Disney Theatrical. All Rights Reserved

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