Sunday, April 2, 2017

The Little Mermaid Swims Into Lockport High School

It’s been a long time since I’ve been to a musical at Lockport High School. The last one I know for sure that I went to was “Brigadoon” back in 1990. I was a new sophomore at the school (I went to ninth grade at Emmet Belknap), and I thought I should be more involved with events that were happening at the school. In the intervening 27 years, by the look of the list in the back of the program, I’ve missed some pretty good shows.

This year’s production was “The Little Mermaid.” We decided to take the whole family to the show as well as the tea party afterwards. The girls all love mermaids, especially Corliss and Josephine, so it was just natural that we’d attend this show.

The first thing that struck me as the show opened was the simplicity of the set pieces. These were not lumbering, cumbersome set pieces that were difficult to move. The scenery was minimalist and it made for easy scene changes, and keeping the flow of the show going. The smaller pieces lent enough to the show that you knew exactly where you were, while at the same time exercising the audience’s imagination to fill in the rest of the scene. It was wonderful.

Molly Secord, portraying the lead, Ariel, was great. Her work on the wire, making it appear as though she was swimming to the surface was very realistic. It was a great way to portray that. Additionally, I thought her singing was well done. Her voice is strong and echoed throughout the theater.

The Prince Eric, was played by senior, Nathan Ribbeck. Again, with the wire work, he was simply outstanding. When he was drowning after falling overboard, not only did he show some incredible core strength with his flips and dives as he sank to the floor of the ocean, but he showed a lot of faith in his stage crew as he hung limply from the wires. That’s something I’m not sure I could do. As the reluctant prince, Ribbeck showed a combined grace and strength that made his character strong.

I have seen Leah Chesko in another production of “The Little Mermaid” as Ariel. This time, she played Scuttle, the unknowing, know-it-all seagull. Her charisma shone through the character as she strutted and flew across the stage. I liked her singing, and felt she was a great choice to fill that role.

Probably my favorite singer of the night was Megan Tatro as Ursula. She had the perfect tone and inflection as she played the evil sister of King Triton. In my opinion, I thought she was the strongest singer of the cast. She played evil well, and I loved the way the director had other members of the cast “play” her tentacles. It was wonderfully done. I’ve never seen “The Little Mermaid” before, so I thought the way it was done was just awesome.

Owen Monteferrante as Sebastian was an excellent choice. His voice and his mannerisms made the character come to life. His shaking legs while in the presence of King Triton was hilarious. He couldn’t keep it up the entire time, but starting and stopping made it that much funnier. In his featured song of the night, “Under the Sea,” he was outstanding. The choreography, while starting just a little shaky, really came together across the stage and throughout the audience. Owen was fun to watch with a fantastic portrayal of the woebegone crustacean.

Hayden Diviak stole the show with his rendition of Chef Louis. Without a doubt, it was the funniest part of the show. His facial expressions, his ridiculous mustache, and his exaggerated mannerisms brought forth the natural comic within. His scene was memorable. Trying to cook and chasing Sebastian across the stage made me, and several sitting nearby, laugh out loud. Easily my favorite scene of the show.

Overall, I thought the performances put forth by the group of thespians at Lockport High School were absolutely wonderful. It always amazes me the amount of talent that each and every student at schools throughout the area have to showcase for our entertainment. It is a testament to the hard work put forth by people like directors Peter D’Angelo and Robert Pacillo that they are able to glean that talent from each and every actor on stage, and behind the scenes.

If I had any critique of the show, there would be two very slight things. The first deals with the timing of the doors opening for the audience. On a day where the cast would be performing twice, and have a tea party with the public in between, more than 15 minutes was needed to get the audience seated before the 2pm performance. Those poor kids needed the time between shows to reset rather than be rushed. An extra 15 minutes would have been better for them.

The second critique concerned the pit band. I thought they were absolutely fabulous. However, listening to them during the show, I found myself questioning what was missing. After further contemplation, I realized that it was strings that was missing. I understand that Lockport does not do stringed instruments. I think that is a huge loss for the school. It was very obvious during the show. The musicians there did a great job. I am not taking anything away from that. However, this show really needed strings. While they may have tried to cover that with four keyboards, there is nothing quite like the full, rich sounds of an actual string orchestra.

My whole family loved “The Little Mermaid.” The girls adored being able to talk to some of the cast members after the show in the cafeteria. They had performed with Leah Chesko at another “Little Mermaid” show for Lakeplains Players. They were excited to see her. They were also excited to talk with Jayden Washington, their cousin. Seeing the student actors and actresses interacting with their audience was a great thing to see. I would like to see more of those interactions with other shows.

Congratulations to the cast and crew of “The Little Mermaid” at Lockport High School. They put on a great family show. It looks like the Bacon family may be attending more of the musicals put on by Lockport. We are a stage-loving family, and it’s a great form of entertainment. And it’s family friendly. Here’s to more shows.

Craig Bacon loves theater. In all his reviews, he likes to give out crazy shout outs. Today’s recipient is Jayden Washington. Not that anyone needs to toot his horn. Well, he DID let the girls play his “under the sea” horn.