The Little Mermaid

Original Broadway Cast Recording

Walt Disney Records, 2008

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 07/02/2008

As a parent, I got lucky.

No, this isn’t that start of a fatherly brag session -- not that there’s anything wrong with that -- but the point is, if the timing of my parenthood had been off by just a bit, I could have gotten stuck taking my kids to see The Aristocats or The Great Mouse Detective or something equally dismal from the 1980s Disney oeuvre.  Instead, my kids went through their Disney years just as latter-day classics like Beauty And The Beast and Aladdin and The Lion King were coming out.

And then there’s the movie that kicked off this animated renaissance, my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 The Little Mermaid.  Packed with classic Howard Ashman-Alan Menken numbers like “Part Of Your World,” “Kiss The Girl” and the deliriously catchy, Academy Award-winning “Under The Sea,” the original animated feature was a regular in our household for half a decade or more.

In its more recent Broadway incarnation, the original Ashman-Menken songs from the movie have been supplemented with a variety of tunes that cover musically much of the story-advancing ground that’s handled with dialogue in the movie version.  The new songs team composer Menken with lyricist Glenn Slater, who does his best -- with moderate success -- to replicate Ashman’s unique combination of edgy wit and big-hearted romanticism.  (Ashman died of AIDS in 1991.)

Sierra Boggess does a nice job in the lead role of Ariel, conveying the right balance of innocent curiosity and stubborn determination.  Her performance on the key early number “Part Of This World” is especially spot-on, capturing the bubbling emotion of the original and hitting the big theater-filling notes to perfection.  Just like in the movie, though, Sebastien – a.k.a. Tituss Burgess -- more or less steals the show with the expansive production numbers “Under The Sea” and “Kiss The Girl.”

The 10 new songs don’t always click; “She’s In Love,” for example, goes in a faux-Motown direction that feels out of sync with the sunny island vibe of the original motion picture soundtrack.  But any false notes are quickly forgiven whenever the cast returns to familiar numbers like the deliciously nasty “Poor Unfortunate Souls,” delivered with all appropriate gusto by Sherie Rene Scott in the role of the sea-witch Ursula.

Whether you’ve seen the Broadway show or just carry fond memories of the big-screen original, this soundtrack is an entertaining reminder of a timeless tale, once again well-told.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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© 2008 Jason Warburg and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Walt Disney Records, and is used for informational purposes only.