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John Smith
Dr. Tracy Spencer
HUMA 1315 2C1
16 Apr. 2018
The Dickinson High School Production of The Little Mermaid
I attended a production of The Little Mermaid, a musical produced by the Drama
Department of Dickinson High School in Dickinson, Texas. Since my cousin was performing in
The Little Mermaid, I chose to do a theater critique. Because it was a show put on by high school
students, I did not have high expectations. I was pleasantly surprised to see a well-polished
staged show.
The Little Mermaid is a musical based on the story by Hans Christen Anderson and the
Disney cartoon of the same name. It tells the story of Ariel, a mermaid who wants to be human,
and Eric, a prince who wants to be a sailor instead of a king. Ariel trades her voice to become
human and get Eric to fall in love with her. Basically, the plot is the same as the cartoon with
some exceptions. A few differences include the mention of Ariel’s mother passing away and that
Triton hates humans because he thinks they killed her. Also in the stage show, Ursula and Triton
are brother and sister; I do not think this is mentioned in the cartoon.
The set pieces were built to move on and off the stage. They could be turned and used in
different scenes. For example, there were two large wall-type structures. One could be turned
and used as Ursula’s Lair and King Triton’s Throne Room. It had a big clam looking shell that
Ursula could sit in. The other side was a throne for King Triton to sit on. It had shells, blue
netting and white columns. The second piece turned from Ariel’s secret cave to the mersisters’
room. There was a wig head, candleholder, wine glasses and other “human” things that Ariel
collected. The other side was painted pink and looked like a girl’s bedroom. The crew used
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images of ocean waves and a sandy shore projected onto the background. This gave the
impression of being underwater or being on the beach. I thought that the sets were made well and
the projections were a great addition to the staging.
Due to the cast’s size, around one hundred people, the costumes must have been a
challenge. I liked how they made jellyfish by adding streamers and ribbons to brightly colored
umbrellas. In my opinion, the biggest challenge had to be making costumes for the merpeople.
Their long skirts looked like mermaid tails. Every mermaid had a different color bikini top. They
were decorated with shells, starfish, flowers and different colored crystals. Ariel was the only
one who actually had a tail sticking out behind her. I think she should have had a skirt tail like
the others. Taking the tail off and on made Ariel miss a few cues.
All of the actors did an excellent job with their performances. I can admit that my
expectations were not very high. I especially enjoyed Sebastian the Crab and Flounder the Fish.
Overall, Sebastian was probably the most talented actor. He sang extremely well, and his comic
timing was spot on. I was impressed that he could act and sing so well while maintaining a fake
Jamaican accent. The actor playing Eric probably had the strongest voice. In fact, everyone in the
show sounded amazing. The one exception, in my opinion, would have been Ariel. While she
was a very good actress, her voice seemed weak. Her weakness seemed more obvious due the
strength of the other actors’ voices. One of the best songs in the show is one that is not in the
cartoon. The mersisters sing a song called “She’s in Love.” All of the girls had good voices, and
they sounded really great together. The audience seemed to like this song as well.
The show was two hours with a twenty-minute intermission. Honestly, I did not think this
show would be very good, but I would have to say that the Dickinson High School Drama
Department exceeded my expectations. Elaborate costumes, well-rehearsed performances, and
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interesting sets helped the audience get into the show. The overall impression I got was positive.
Furthermore, I would say that judging from the standing ovation, the audience agreed with me.