Theatre goes under the sea with Four Seasons

Production coming to Oak Bay offers new take on an old story

Oak Bay’s Jay O’Connell is Prince Eric to Angelina Robertson’s Ariel in Four Seasons Musical Theatre’s production of The Little Mermaid

Oak Bay’s Jay O’Connell is Prince Eric to Angelina Robertson’s Ariel in Four Seasons Musical Theatre’s production of The Little Mermaid

A local theatre group delves into the Disney vault for its newest production.

Tackling the overwhelming production challenges of adapting a world of talking marine animals “under the sea,” Four Seasons Musical Theatre’s adaptation of The Little Mermaid promises a unique experience for audiences starting May 20.

“We couldn’t just walk into a costume place and say we’ll take seven mermaids and a crab, we had to have them all made,” said director Douglas Crockett. “It’s not like the (other shows), where it’s all people walking around wearing people clothing.”

Based on the Disney adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen story, the production follows the life of 16-year-old mermaid Ariel, who rebels against her father after he prohibits her from dwelling among humans.

Played by Angelina Robertson, Ariel is eventually forced to deal with evil sea witch Ursula (Fran Bitonti), on her journey to pursue true love with Prince Eric, a human, played by Oak Bay resident Jay O’ Connell.

“As a director, you always hope that your romantic leads will have chemistry, and I’m happy to say that Angelina Robertson and Jay work wonderfully together,” Crockett said. “And the audience roots for them to wind up in each others arms.”

Eshu Martin as King Triton, Christian Bergen as Sebastian, Maggie Martin as Flounder and Bob Warrender as Scuttle round out the main cast, with 25 cast members in total.

More than a dozen behind-the-scenes crew patrol the stage of the musical, which follows the well-known narrative, but features distinctions that set it apart from the 1989 animated film.

“(We have) Triton and Ursula as brother and sister, and that is (not in the film) version,” Crockett said. “Ursula has been banished from the kingdom, so she wants to get back at Triton and get back through Triton’s favourite daughter.”

The production showcases 20 songs, including recognizable hits Part of Your World, Kiss the Girl and Under the Sea. The stage version also boasts a handful of songs not featured in the Disney film, another experience exclusive to the broadway version that Crockett said stands out on its own.

“Sitting there in a theatre and watching anything live, you are going to have a different emotional reaction,” he said. “(It’s different) than sitting in a movie theatre, or in this case, watching it on television at home.”

The show runs two hours, plus intermission and opens tonight (Friday, May 20) at 7 p.m. the Oak Bay High’s Dave Dunnet Community Theatre, followed by matinees at 2 p.m. on May 21 and 22.

The show then shifts to the Isabelle   Reader Theatre in Langford for three performances: May 27 at 7 p.m. and 2 p.m. on May 28 and 29.