• by Diane Grant

Theatre Palisades – The Little Mermaid cast

I’ve never been drawn to Hans Christian Andersen’s stories and have never read The Little Mermaid.

It’s a story of a mermaid who falls in love with a human – a prince no less – and who then dreams of becoming a human, too.

“I’ve never liked the idea of mermaids,” I say to myself, crankily.

I mean, do they eat fish and fish only? Seaweed? If so, how do they brush their teeth? Do they? Where do they shop for bras? Maybe, they don’t wear bras. (If you’re under the sea most of the time, you might not need one. You’re probably in great shape.)

Are their tails always green?

And why a prince? What about a doctor or a mechanic or a shoe salesman? (A shoe salesman would be quite wrong, of course.)

In the Disney movie, they not only could talk. They could sing and dance! I didn’t see the movie and when Theatre Palisades Youth produced the play as The Little Mermaid, Jr., I wasn’t particularly interested in seeing it either.

However, the group always does lovely work and I never miss a show so went to see this one, too.

The actors were delightful, full of life, beautifully rehearsed and directed by Lara Ganz, and the audience loved the show.

What I loved the best was the use of the aerial silks! These long strips of material of different colors, from Focus Fish in Topanga, hung from the ceiling and across one end of the stage. They were used for climbing and twisting in and at one point, an actor flew in one out toward the audience. It was magic!

After watching this Little Mermaid, I’ve been thinking of all those plays I’ve written and seen in which people come in and out, sometimes through French windows or doors but mostly from stage right or left, talk to each other on sofas or around dining room tables, learn to love or hate each other and sometimes, just for the playwright’s fun of writing about it, bump each other off. (I recommend the excellent Ruthless! the Musical for an accumulation of bodies.)

Although I once saw an actor swoop in on a rope at Theatricum Botanicum, I don’t remember seeing one flying. You’d remember that, wouldn’t you?

Do only the fairies fly? (I know Mary Martin did but she was Peter Pan.) Would there have to be some magic happen to turn an ordinary man or woman in business clothes into a flyer? Someone who could lift off the 405 and make it to work in ten minutes? Perhaps there’s a play in which the actors with little jetpacks strapped to the costumes take to the air. If you sit on the 405, you think about something like that. (And murder, of course.)

Or maybe, someday and someday soon, I’ll write something like that so I could use those wonderful aerial silks!

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