|Kayla Dobbs and Tatumn Zale|
Photo by Moran Imaging / Wade Moran
Click here for more information on this production that runs through June 26th.
"...while watching VYT’s large scale, colorful extravaganza, there’s a sense you’re watching more than just the theater’s seasonal closer; you’re watching a celebration – a show designed not only to demonstrate the remarkable talent of VYT, but also a production that would illustrate Bobb Cooper’s extraordinary achievement; an ability to draw the best out of his youthful cast that never fails to surprise. ...If you know the film, for the most part, you know the show. Logistically, there were elements that would never have worked on stage. ...But with additional score and plenty of high-wire acrobatics to suggest deep-water swimming, what was cut is never missed....the end result is of such a high-standard....Under Mark Fearey’s musical direction, his arrangements and his musicians – despite a wobbly sounding start – gave the show its life.... Ariel (an engaging and truly delightful Kayla Dobbs) ..is quite lovely – there’s Nathan Sheppard who in both looks and sound makes an outstanding presence as Prince Eric. Liam Thibeault’s Scuttle, the vocabulary challenged seagull, is a hoot; his tap-dancing, upbeat number Positoovity is a highlight, particularly when backed by a whole flock of tap-dancing seagulls – the effect is laugh-out-loud funny. ...Ira Hill’s Sebastian makes an instant impression by googly, floating eyes and blazing red costume alone, courtesy of Karol Cooper’s always superior designs. But there’s a scene-stealer, and she steals every scene she’s in. Tatumn Zale is the villainous Ursula...Tatumn is nothing short of terrific. With fun and inventive choreography from Katie Casey, Dori Brown’s continually inventive scenic design brought alive by Mike Eddy’s lighting, Aeni Domme’s intentionally expressive and often hilariously creative wigs, plus – and most importantly – Bobb Cooper helming this sea going musical, family audiences will not be disappointed. " -David Appleford, Valley Screen and Stage (click here to read the complete review)
"...The Little Mermaid ...features the well-known songs from the infectious Oscar winning score by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman. Valley Youth Theatre presents a large scale production of this crowd-pleasing show, which is full of bright and colorful creative aspects and a cast of over forty talented Valley youth that features some engaging performances....The score includes all of the toe-tapping film songs plus about ten new ones, with lyrics for the new songs by Glenn Slater, some of which are quite good. ...Doug Wright's book includes some witty lines with jokes that play off the undersea setting, though it is a little confusing in parts, especially the few plot elements that tie up the show's ending, requiring some prior knowledge of the animated film to fill in the gaps. Director Bobb Copper effectively fills the stage with his large cast and even has his staging pour out into the audience for some of the more elaborate song sequences. He derives good performances from his cast, especially a delightful performance from Tatum Zale as Ursula. Zale's powerful voice excels on Ursula's songs; she seems to relish playing this evil witch and her joy is infectious. Kayla Dobbs is charming as Ariel and does well in showing the sense of wonder, confusion and awe she feels for the human world. ...Dobbs and Nathan Sheppard, as Prince Eric, form a nice bond with each other and create a realistic couple you root for. Sheppard has a solid stage presence and a strong voice that soars on his songs, including a touching delivery of "Her Voice."...Katie Casey's choreography... is full of fun, varied movement...Musical director Mark Fearey achieves a lush sound from the very large orchestra as well as some superb vocals from his young cast. ...Creative elements are full of shimmering, vibrant colors. Dori Brown's set design features a stellar show curtain and...Karol Cooper's costumes are a non-stop rainbow of color and creativity. Her original design for Ursula, which features a crazy cotton candy wig by Aeni Domme, is simply superb. Michael Eddy's plush lighting design suggests many moments of realistic underwater imagery. ...Even with a few drawbacks in the script, which VYT and Cooper can't be faulted for, the stage version of The Little Mermaid provides a fun, family friendly, experience. VYT's production has vibrant colors, sure footed direction and a large, talented cast that result in a crowd-pleasing, magical and engaging production." -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)
"SPECTACULAR is the key word for Valley Youth Theatre's current production of DISNEY'S THE LITTLE MERMAID....Bobb Cooper's masterful and magical staging of the ever-popular musical. Cooper..possesses the uncanny ability to mine gold out of el-hi thespians....He's done it again! ...Kayla Dobbs, a high school freshman, plays Ariel, the sea creature who aspires to the high ground, with a delicate and absorbing charm and a mellifluous voice. Unique among the daughters of Triton, the sea god, (played like a stalwart deity by Clay Rollon) Ariel ventures against his will and contrary to the warnings of her companion Flounder and gull friend Scuttle to explore beyond the sea. Ten year young Kylan Chait is undoubtedly an old acting soul, flawlessly (and, may I say, adorably) portraying Ariel's true blue friend Flounder. Is there a line that this kid utters without being totally endearing!...(as) Sebastian, a red crab from Jamaica,...Ira Hill grabs hold of the role with his oversized claws ...Ariel's match is the equally adventurous Prince Eric (a swashbuckling and starry-eyed Nathan Sheppard). ...(as) Ursula,...Tatumn Zale is extraordinary. This is a blowout performance by a young actress who commands the stage with confidence and panache. ...there are enough pearls of talent in VYT's production to fill an oyster bed or two. ...All are bedecked in Karol Cooper's lavish and exquisitely tailored costumes. They inhabit a nautical environment set aglow by Dori Brown's sets and Mike Eddy's lighting. They are elevated by the soaring music of the young musicians under the direction of Mark Fearey." -Herbert Paine, Broadway World (click here to read the complete review)