The Little Mermaid, performed by KYDS
At Thurstable School Friday, 24, June 2016

Director – Lee Dillon-Stuart

There was palpable excitement in the auditorium as the lights dimmed and the “orchestra” tuned up, before the overture began. Admittedly, the orchestra was represented by a backing track but the cast of KYDS had no difficulty singing without a conductor to bring them in. The set was a clever mix of large trucks, shaped as the prow of a ship, a throne, a treasure trove for Ariel’s human keepsakes and so forth. These were moved into position while the waves, two long sheets of contrasting blue material, rose higher to mask the scene, and on-stage costume, changes. The costumes themselves were very good, creating excellent mermaids with tight sheaths that hid the feet; a jelly fish with an umbrella and long tassels; a crab with pink claws and headdress for eyes on stalks; a sea-witch with black dress and wig. Complemented by a strong lighting plot and short scenes that kept the pace moving swiftly on this was an enjoyable production.

The cast was strong with some good individual performances by the leading players. Tom Nicoll carried most of the humor as Sebastian, the Caribbean crustacean with authentic accent and some great calypso moves but Charlie Warner also made us smile with his debut performance as the engaging Flounder. Ellie Russell was a convincing witch, the evil Ursula and Ben Collins is in danger of being type-cast as the handsome hero, with great baritone voice and stage presence. Grace Upton, in the title role, was a delightful heroine and even during the silent scenes with Prince Eric used very well her facial expressions to convey various emotions. The Mersisters were a great mini-ensemble and the whole cast contributed to an entertaining evening with their vocal and dance enthusiasm.

The sound system did disappoint at times, with some balance issues and a muffling of the dialogue and singing. However, this did not detract from what was a lovely production and one that gave so many young people a chance to experience musical theatre. According to the programme notes at least four of the named principals and perhaps several of the chorus were new to KYDS, so congratulations to them and to the more experienced cast members for a great evening.

Review – Stewart Adkins
On behalf of NODA East.

NORTH ESSEX THEATRE GUILD 
SHOWCASE FESTIVAL 2015 – 16

ADJUDICATION

Group KYDS Youth Drama Society
Venue Thurstable School Tiptree
Date of Adj. Saturday 25th June matinee
Production The Little Mermaid Junior
Director Lee Dillon-Stuart
Adjudicated by Ann Sexton
Accompanied by Jenny Burke

Front of House / Publicity
A well organised and charming team met us in the foyer, where refreshments were available in the interval; long queues proved they were popular. There was music playing in the background to set the atmosphere.

The programme is impressive. Very professional in appearance, clear and easy to read and informative. A lovely colourful cover design and the photographs and notes on the cast were very useful.

Set Construction / Set Painting
Our first view, with closed curtains, was of a clever design of balloons, looking just like underwater seaweed and bubbles. The bubbles were used again on the set. Two long pieces of material were used as the moving sea, which worked really well. All scene changes were cleverly achieved. One resembling the bow of a ship, which, when turned round became Ursula throne. Another set change was shaped like a shell, as ariel’s bedroom – each of the scene changes had been construction on moveable basses, which allowed for quick changes. Each was well painted and dressed to represent what was intended. Well thought out and executed. Well done.

Lighting Design and Operation
The lighting used complimented the action on stage. colour and light and shade were used to change the moods needed for the different scenes. The cream coloured back curtain was a good contrast to the black, and the change of lighting on this was very effective.

Costumes
This was a beautiful collection of costumes. I suspect some were hired, as they were copies of the Disney film characters. Alice Mason was listed for creating the Mermaids and Ursula’s costume. The mermaid costumes looked as though they had been individually made – they fitted very well and were sleek, yet allowed movement. Ursula’s was a wonderful concoction of black and purple lace. Well done

Make-up and Hair
Much of the make-up for this production was brilliant. The creatures were very artistic as too were the mermaids. Ariel’s red wig looked very fetching, I am sure it was a good representation of the character in the film. In contrast, Ursula looked plain and pale by comparison. Also, her blond wig did not enhance the look. She does however have very expressive eyes and had used some make-up to enhance this well, but she needed more face make-up to define her looks and underpin the character.

Music

Music was used to good effect during the action and scene changes. This and the music used for singing was pre-recorded. It was timed well, always on cue and at a good level. Microphones were used by the principal characters, which were also set at a good level. The music carried the production along, and would have been a good reminder for those who know the film.

CAST

Ariel – Grace Upton
Ariel is one of the most popular of Disney’s princesses. Grace typifies this character perfectly, slender, attractive, with a sweet singing voice. She moved with confidence and graceful body language.

Flounder – Charlie Warner
As a fish, ‘Flounder’ is friendly and loveable, as well as being cheeky. Charlie managed all the above in spades. He was very expressive and also has a good voice. Well Done.

Sebastion – Tom Nicoll
We could not believe Tom is only 14 years old. He showed lots of confidence, animation and good body language – a real natural. Sebastion is the best loved crab of all and Tom made him interesting using the ‘Caribbean’ accent to good effect. Well done

Ursula – Ellie Russell
As a sea witch, Ursula is the’ baddie’ of the story. Ellie was as stately as royalty, and quite impressive. With a strong voice and body language that defined the character well. She effectively projected out to us all her menace and scheming.

Flotsame – Matilda Hens
Jetsam – Morgan Sheldon
This pair of ‘ner-do-wells’ – minions of Ursula – looked great in their gear. They worked well together as a team, but needed a bit more volume and ‘oomph’.

King Triton – Tommy Metcalf
Being a king is hard work! Keeping control and being in charge. Tommy did work hard at being the ‘stiff upper lipped’ royal, this perhaps did not allow his own

personality to shine through, which from his profile in the programme is much more enthusiastic. Well done Tommy for your first foray into acting – we look forward to seeing you again.

Prince Eric – Ben Collins
Our hero is Prince Eric – handsome Ben stepped forward and there was our hero. I loved his scene with Ariel. Their shyness brought out some realistic emotion in our prince.

Scuttle – Steven Hyde
I loved ‘Scuttle’ – even though he is rather a stupid seagull. His costume was great – all feathers and glitter – as he dashed about with enthusiasm. His dancing was very good. Great characterisation.

Grimsby – Harry Yelland
Not a good start for any character! – heaving up your insides with sea sickness – Harry gained confidence as the story progressed and made the most of his role as companion to the prince.

Sea horsre – Marcus Renshaw
One would describe a sea horse as elegant and aloof, but Marcus, to his credit, was animated and enthusiastic.

Pilot – Mathew Greed
It’s a difficult thing to open the show, yet Mathew managed it with confidence and a fine singing voice.

Chef Louis – Olly Smith
Olly made the most of his cameo role. His chef was cheeky and very funny. Olly has a good sense for comedy, with good timing. His dancing somewhat frantic, but was in keeping with the character. With this characterisation, for those few minutes on stage, he captivated us. Well done

Carlotta – Emily Upton
Emily showed a sense of caring for her role as the maid and appeared to enjoy herself.

The Mer Sisters –
This group of young women looked great with plenty of smiles and some very good singing. Great team work.

The Gulls –
These three joined Scuttle with a great lively song and dance – for us both this was one of the highlights of the show

The Ensemble

This was an enthusiastic team, supporting the main characters and working hard tom keep the action moving. Well done to all.

Production
This production stayed true to the story and atmosphere of the Disney film. The set, costumes and music all worked in harmony. The actors brought the characters to life with pace and interest. The singing was good. I was impressed, as was the audience and I am sure all those who enjoy the film would not have been disappointed

We both really enjoyed this production. It was a pleasant afternoon’s entertainment from a talented young group.

Many thanks for the invitation.

Anne Sexton
Adjudicator