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The MIHS Islander

The Student News Site of Mercer Island High School

The MIHS Islander

The Student News Site of Mercer Island High School

The MIHS Islander

Nikos Nook: Entry #1
Niko's Nook: Entry #1
December 5, 2023

5th Avenue’s “The Little Mermaid”: Lively but Hollow

5th Avenue’s “The Little Mermaid: Lively but Hollow
Mark Kitaoka

5th Avenue’s musical “The Little Mermaid” is an entertaining and nostalgic rendition. However, a lot of the dialogue lacked a necessary emotional aspect.

The show provides great entertainment in terms of musical ensemble and cast enthusiasm, however certain characters lacked the emotional depth required to produce a spectacular show. King Trident (played by Sheldon Henry) was notably audible, but the father-daughter struggles typically conveyed in “The Little Mermaid” were muddled in the process of vocal projection. 

Overall, the cast is composed of very powerful singers with a wide variety of ranges and impressive technical ability. The classic musical number “Under the Sea” was a grand performance, showcasing vibrant and unique costuming. It is clear that there was an immense amount of intricacy and attention to detail regarding the set and technical elements, as the fabric on the mermaid costumes flowed perfectly with movement of the actors. While Ariel was flying through the air, it truly appeared as though she was swimming in water and I was impressed at the stamina of the actors. 

Shauncye Omar stood out to me as the evil sea witch Ursula, as she was extremely theatrical and noteworthy in her performance. It was super impressive when she morphed her voice from each song seamlessly, hitting all the notes on key, especially the high ones. Omar’s best song was the iconic “Poor Unfortunate Souls” from Disney’s original film “The Little Mermaid.” The piece has extremely hard vocals to follow, yet Omar made it sound effortless and magical. With her costume being a large gown with eight tentacles, dramatic makeup and intense hairdo, she was the perfect embodiment of a sea witch. Omar is perfect for her role, embracing the drag queen roots of which Ursula’s character originated, she enhances the flirtatious and bold character persona.

The orchestra had many amazing musicians including the percussionist, Brian Kirk, who played 16 different instruments throughout the entire show. Not only was the use of instruments extremely diverse but they were also utilized consistently during the performance. 

However, I was not a fan of the swaying movement during the show used to prove the actors were swimming in water. While I understand the deliberate choice of the stage choreography, the flowing movement of Ariel and the other mermaids came across as unnatural and awkward. 

Overall, the show was entertaining with its technical aspects, songs and costumes; however, it fell short of capturing the emotional magic that Disney’s original film so beautifully conveys. However, if you want a fun and entertaining experience and don’t care about emotional depth, I suggest going to see “The Little Mermaid” at the 5th Avenue Theatre, playing Oct. 1-8.

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