Adventures under the sea

A lmost every girl at one point or another thought that they were the little mermaid. Except for me. I was the the little mermaid, and you couldn’t convince me otherwise. I do not know what it was about the red-haired adventurer that made me fall in love with her story, but I was hooked […]

Dayton Playhouse brings
The Little Mermaid to life


King Triton (Steven Lakes) discusses life under the sea with his youngest daughter
Ariel (Abby Gail Stoffel). Photo: Art Fabian

By Sarah Monroe

Almost every girl at one point or another thought that they were the little mermaid. Except for me. I was the the little mermaid, and you couldn’t convince me otherwise. I do not know what it was about the red-haired adventurer that made me fall in love with her story, but I was hooked instantly. The original story is much older and a wee bit different than the tale that Disney tells about a curious mermaid who trades her enchanting voice for a pair of human legs to be with the prince that she loves, but it is a version that is beloved by many and has been brought to life by The Dayton Playhouse.

Ending their 59th season with the cherished classic, The Dayton Playhouse pulls out all the stops for their production of The Little Mermaid. Director Matthew Smith’s unique vision has done justice to the story, one that any TLM fan would be proud of. The lavish set design and costumes are impressive in their detail, as are the quality singing voices of the talented cast. The first thing you will notice when you make your way into the quaint theatre are the beautiful giant bubbles that frame the stage. Masterfully painted, they make you feel as if you are a part of the foamy sea and are accompanied by lights that shimmer like the sun on water.

When the show begins, you are greeted by the booming voice of sailors, making their way through the open sea. The curtains part to the bow of a ship and the men sing their familiar song, a confident jovial tune about the mysteries of the sea. Here we meet Prince Eric, played by Garrett Young, and Grimsby, actor C. J. Suchyta. Eric is a royal who is unsure about his place as king and wants nothing more than to be free at sea. His right hand man Grimsby is bound and determined to help Prince Eric get married and make him accept his rightful place as heir to the throne, a promise that Grimsby made to Eric’s dying King. In a song that Eric sings to try and convince Grimsby that he doesn’t need silly things like forks, because that’s what hands are for, he flings the utensil overboard and into the ocean. Just then, a curious little mermaid glides in to save the fork from its watery grave.

Abby Stoffel plays the lead role of Ariel perfectly, donning signature Ariel red hair and a purple clamshell bra. Ariel longs for the adventure of the unknown, much like Eric, and finds the culture of the humans to be fascinating and awe-inspiring. She wants to understand them, much to her father’s chagrin. Abby has an impressive voice that is fitting for the part. It is strong and wonderfully on par with the tone of the cartoon version we have come to know and love, yet still making each song her own. 

Each character brings a hilarious and perfect personality to their part. Scuttle is played by Samantha Creech, who said that to get the voice of the seagull right, “I like to base the voice off of a soccer mom in downtown New York traffic that just really needs to get a bagel,” and she pulls it off perfectly. William “Kip” Moore is the steely Sebastian, whose facial expression and timing are on point to make you giggle more than once. Ursula, played by Angele Price, wears a costume that is velvety and luxurious, perfectly matching her delusional grandeur. Ursula’s exaggerated movements and snake-like enunciation make her a provocative nemesis. Her two hench-eels, Flotsom and Jetsom, are played by David Thomas and William Boatwright, Jr. and are fabulous on rollerblades, swirling around the stage with ease. Ariel’s family is highlighted more in this version of the story. Her father, King Triton, is played by Stephen Lakes and he said that what drew him to the story was having daughters of his own and his need to let go. Ariel’s sisters have wonderful voices and catty dispositions, and are a fun take on the story behind the tale that we already know.

In his pursuit to make the mermaids seem like they are floating through the waters, Director Matthew Smith has nearly all of the mer-folk wear gliding shoes, a unique twist on an otherwise difficult task. The costume designers hit the nail on the head, especially for the sea creatures in the fabulous rendition of Under the Sea. There are a lot of new songs that the audience will hear for the first time in this version, and Matthew Smith says “You’re going to see new stuff, and I think that keeps it fresh and fun.”

The all-volunteer based production crew of this musical has worked hard in creating a hilarious, heartfelt and beautifully designed rendition of such a beloved classic.

The Little Mermaid will be at the Dayton Playhouse May 12 & 13 and May 20 & 21. More information can be found at thedaytonplayhouse.com

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Sarah Monroe, a native to the Gem City, is currently writing her first novel. Reach DCP writer Sarah Monroe at contactus@daytoncitypaper.com

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