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Ursuline Academy's THE LITTLE MERMAID

Flounder (center, played by Anna Grace Hull) and the Mersisters (from left to right: Sam Martel, Mae Mulligan, Elizabeth Benton, Josie Lickliter, Maggie Farwig, and Madison Rigby) break out in song and dance in Ursuline Academy’s Fall Production of The Little Mermaid. Picture provided by Dianne Bomar.

Review by Elijah Smith, Highlands High School Critic Team

Ursuline Academy fully brought the wonders of Disney's The Little Mermaid's vibrant ocean to life in their performance.

Based off the 1989 movie of the same name, Disney's The Little Mermaid is a musical written by Doug Wright with music composed by Alan Menken. After a brief stint on Broadway, this musical has been performed many times internationally including in Finland and Japan. The story is about Ariel, a Mermaid princess who longs to be on land amongst the people. After falling in love with Prince Eric, she makes a deal with the sea-witch Ursula who turns Ariel into a human but only for three days and at the cost of Ariel's voice.

Maya Max's performance as Ariel was one to remember with her amazing singing voice. Max was also amazing with her body language, wonderfully portraying Ariel's delighted facial expression and excited movement to convey what Ariel was thinking especially during the time she couldn't speak on land. Ben Crane as Prince Eric also had a wonderful voice that brought a thoughtfulness to his character with a captivating performance in "One Step Closer."

Other highlights include Ayla Estes as Sebastian, whose performance was truly incredible. She was able to embody the original character but also made it entirely her own. Her singing was magnificent brining an excited energy to "Under the Sea"and a tender one to "Kiss the Girl." The chemistry between her and Lilli Kirk's Scuttle was great, showing a strong friendship between them. Kirk's performance was also remarkable. Her comedic timing was excellent and her and the seagull ensemble's "Positoovity"was a performance to remember.

The overall ensemble was captivating especially during the performance of "Under the Sea". Including a color guard routine, "Under the Sea"was truly spectacular and gave many members in the ensemble a moment to shine. The ensemble also brought to life the scenery of "Kiss the Girl," literally, with some members being the wind while others were the rushing water.

The lighting was a high point, with multiple characters having lighting themes, like Ursula and her lair and appearances being bathed in red light. When Eric was drowning and being saved, he was covered in a deep blue light which was a mystifying effect. In addition to lighting, the costumes were incredible. The Merfolk and sea creatures were adorned in amazingly bright colors reflecting a fun vibrant theme of the ocean. Sebastian's costume was amazing, depicting the crab's pinchers as sleeve ruffles which was an imaginative touch. Near the end Ariel had an impressive on-stage quick change as she changed from mermaid to human in seconds being hidden under her sisters' fans.

Through their performances and technical aspects Ursuline Academy was able to bring some Disney magic to the stage.

Ariel and Eric (portrayed by Maya Max and Ben Crane) enjoy a boat ride in Ursuline Academy’s Fall Musical Production of The Little Mermaid. Picture provided by Dianne Bomar.

Review by Ashley Kelly, Highlands High School Critic Team

In a show filled with tap dancing seagulls, a sassy group of mersisters, and plenty of dinglehoppers and thingamobobs, St. Ursaline Academy's production of The Little Mermaid swam through the ocean blue and right into the audiences' hearts.

Ariel, the youngest mermaid out of seven sisters to the King Triton is a curious and adventurous soul who ventures out of the water and falls in love with a human. She then trades her voice to the evil sea witch Ursula for legs to walk on land with her true love. Ariel makes lots of trouble along the way!

The cast of The Little Mermaid brought the ocean to life with their committed ensemble dancing and gorgeous musical blending to create an amusing production for the whole family.

In the role of Ariel, Maya Max portrayed the young and inquisitive mermaid longing for love beautifully. Particularly, her vocality was breathtaking as she embodied the princess archetype with poise and majesty in the song "Part of Your World." Contrastingly, the antagonist in the show, Ursula, played by Ember Rolf, extended a sassy and powerful performance of an iconic villain. Her epochal song "Poor Unfortunate Souls"was combated by her dominant vocals that blew her right out of the water!

As supporting characters go, Scuttle, performed by Lilli Kirk, stole the show with her outstanding tap number in "Positoovity," along with her dedication to such a large and quirky character with brilliant comedic timing. Additionally, Ariel's cowardly guppy companion Flounder, played by Anna Grace Hull, was an adorable addition to every scene with her commanding enthusiasm on stage.

The technical elements of this production, specifically the props, created by Kara Broderick and crew, added unique elements to this show and ultimately bringing the whole show together. Along with the beautiful props, the lights in this production from Sarah Graber, Sarah Kuhr, Claire Ratkey, and Emily Swindeman were an outstanding touch with the different colors matching the different characters throughout the show. In totality, the color palette of St. Ursaline Academy's production brought everything together.

Overall, St. Ursaline Academy's production of The Little Mermaid was a lovely show for the whole family. This beautiful and exciting performance had the audience be a part of their world for the night.

The talented cast of Ursuline Academy’s Fall Musical Production of The Little Mermaid, colorfully celebrate life “Under the Sea!” Picture provided by Dianne Bomar.

Review by Alex Bertucci, Campbell County High School Critic Team

Two drastically different worlds were brought together in Ursuline Academy's production of the The Little Mermaid. Ursuline Academy delivered a spectacle full of iconic songs and hilarious moments with a message of staying true to yourself and finding where you belong.

Disney's The Little Mermaid is a familiar story about Ariel (Maya Max), a sea princess who yearns to be one of the humans in the world above. When she falls in love with Prince Eric (Ben Crane), she makes a deal with her sea witch aunt Ursula (Ember Rolf) and trades her voice for legs. With only three days to get him to fall in love with her, Ariel must wrestle with her identity, find herself, and balance where she came from and where she's going.

Ursuline Academy's production was grounded in great vocalists and immersive scenic and costume design. The large ensemble was full of energy and the cast and crew worked in unison to bring the audience "Under the Sea."

Lead actress Maya Max's performance perfectly captured Ariel's intense desire for something greater. Every note in "Part Of Your World" felt sincere and meaningful, in addition to sounding stunning! In the second half of the show, when Ariel loses her voice, Max achieved the difficult task of communicating all of Ariel's conflicting emotions using only her body language. To complete the duo, Ben Crane's Prince Eric matched Max's energy with a royal charm and rich voice.

Equally as effective was Ember Rolf who convincingly played the powerful and manipulative sea witch Ursula. With a dominating presence and booming voice, Rolf commanded the audience's attention every time she was on stage.

Technically, the production checked every box. Each costume was vibrant and flamboyant, and the set made every location distinct, all while maintaining the magic of an underwater kingdom. One of the most impressive aspects of the show was the lighting. Sarah Graber, Sarah Kuhr, Claire Ratkey, and Emily Swindeman created an aquatic landscape, with a standout moment depicting Eric sinking into the depths below.

Brought to life with great performances and beautiful technical design, Ursuline Academy's The Little Mermaid invited the audience to be a "part of their world."

Ariel, played by Maya Max, wishes to be part of world above in Ursuline Academy’s Fall Musical Production of The Little Mermaid. Picture provided by Dianne Bomar.

Excerpts from Other Top Reviews

"In the iconic musical number, 'Under the Sea,' the ensemble cast dazzled with impeccably well-rehearsed choreography, including throwing and catching batons, evoking a color guard performance. Costumes and props were of exceptional quality and showed the creativity and versatility of Margie Allaire and her crew."

-Samuel Contreras, Highlands High School Critic Team

"As a whole, the production was very immersive. The actors used all the space of the theater, including the pit and aisles. It was fun to watch, with many laughs and memories shared during these 2 and a half hours."

-Samantha Heilman, Highlands High School Critic Team

"The hair and makeup crew outfitted the majority of the cast in wigs, helping allude to the fact that the characters were in fact fish. The costume crew challenged themselves by not only constructing a large number of the costumes, but also using satin, a notoriously unforgiving fabric, in many of the garments. Astonishingly, the entire show was choreographed by the students. Hats off to the choreographers, Ember Rolf, Ellie Toadvine, and Anna Grace Hull, for their exemplary work and dedication."

-Tierney Rasmussen, Mariemont High School Critic Team

"Ayla Estes knocked the iconic role of Sebastian, everyone's favorite crustacean, out of the park. She did a fabulous job flipping from serious advisor of the king to exquisite vocalist leading the, objectively, best song in the musical "Under the Sea." Along with Sebastian, Flotsam and Jetsam, as portrayed by Nina Gravlee and Anne-Marie Tardivon, harmonize beautifully in "Sweet Child." Along with this, their mannerisms were so perfect for the eels, and it was so fun to watch them roll around on-stage with their Heelys."

-Alex Serger, St. Ursula Academy Critic Team

"St. Ursuline's production of The Little Mermaid was anchored by its musical numbers and choreography, as the immense vocal talent on display in nearly every song was second to none. The choreography succeeded in its sense of scale, as it made numbers like "Under the Sea"and "Kiss the Girl" feel larger than life and other, more emotional ones like "Part of Your World"feel distinctly personal. The production also made good use of its space, even utilizing the aisles and area in front of the stage for entrances and even the occasional dialogue."

-Sam Hicks-Jirkins, Mariemont High School Critic Team

"Especially important when doing musical theater is the use of sound which was headed by Juliane Lim who did a splendid job making sure that characters would be heard, and adding sound effects to add to scenes."

-James Hendricks, Mason High School Critic Team

"The prop design was impressive and innovative, with paper lanterns as jellyfish and an intricate table display during the dinner scene."

Faith Alford, Campbell County High School Critic Team

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