Ickle Pickle’s feisty mermaid gets a happy ending

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From left: Emily Mullamphy as Andrina, Emily Pogson as Ariel and Emily O’Brien as Alana

MOST readers know the sad story of the little mermaid who trades her fishy tail for a pair of legs to win the love of an uncaring prince, and now Ickle Pickle Productions is staging Disney’s musical, “The Little Mermaid”, as their January school holiday show.

Canberra soprano Emily Pogson as Ariel

The director is Jordan Best, whose previous musicals with Ickle Pickle include “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, “The Three Musketeers”, Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” and “Alice in Wonderland”.

“Disney’s prince is charming but also a bit awkward and vulnerable,” Best tells “CityNews”, ”so it’s not a case of the young mermaid falling for an older man. It’s two young adults who fall in love with each other it’s just Disney.”

She admits that some of the underwater scenes stretch credibility, so while it’s been a lot of fun to do, it’s also been “hard work producing Disney magic on the smell of an oily rag”. 

The fun is evident in the array of ridiculous characters, like Sebastian the lobster, a manic French chef, evil Ursula and her eel off-siders, Flotsam and Jetsam, tap-dancing seagull, Scuttle, and the catchy numbers, like “Under the Sea”, “Positoovity”, “Kiss the Girl” and “If Only” add to the overall sense of colour and entertainment.

Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid” was the quintessential “fish-out-of-water” tale, a tragic story of impossible love. Andersen’s subservient mermaid, besotted with love for the prince, is wracked with pain on land, where walking feels like treading on knives, and is silenced by having her tongue cut out. 

In the Disney version, scripted by Doug Wright, Ariel the mermaid (Andersen didn’t give her a name) is not a victim but a feisty, feminist female fish and a heroine who saves the prince from drowning. She has to sacrifice her voice to become a woman in a deal set up by Ursula the sea witch not nearly so scary.

Canberra soprano Emily Pogson, last pictured in “CityNews” as Nancy in Queanbeyan Players’ “Oliver!” gets the plum role of Ariel, a dramatic change from her Wendy in Ickle Pickle’s 2017 production of “Peter Pan”.

Ickle Pickle producer Justin Watson says the large cast of 48 adult and youth performers have been rehearsing since the beginning of September, and describes the show as “a perfect fit for the theatre company, as it offers performance opportunities for adults, teenagers and children”.

Disney’s “The Little Mermaid”, Belconnen Theatre, January 10-25. Book at trybooking.com or 0460 401621.

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Helen Musa
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