I’m here to tell you—contrary to the reports of certain major dailies—that “The Little Mermaid” is solid musical theater entertainment. It’s not visionary, not earth-shattering, just a colorfully-staged, tuneful love story that should thoroughly entertain the kiddies and divert the adults.
In case you somehow missed the classic Disney film on which the show is based, beautiful young mermaid princess Ariel becomes obsessed with the fascinating creatures that live on land—especially Eric, a particularly handsome human prince. In order to experience land-locked life, she has to defy her father the king, make a shady pact with an evil sea witch and prove to Eric that she’s the girl for him.
Stephen Mears’s energetic choreography and George Tsypin’s luminescent sets ignite the musical’s handful of truly transcendent moments. Put all this together with composer Alan Menken’s mostly glittering score and Doug Wright’s light-handed book, and you’ve got a confection that easily improves upon “Beauty and the Beast,” the “Disney on Broadway” property it replaces.