Bear Stage doesn’t just put on a show. With a fully decked-out lobby, souvenirs for sale and a musical array to remember, the Buchanan High School performance troupe ensures that its latest production, “The Little Mermaid,” is a full-fledged experience.
The moment audience members walk into The Mercedes Edwards Theatre in downtown Clovis, they are instantly transported under the sea. A group of parents led by Jackie Brueckner spent about 60 hours decorating the lobby and hallways to welcome guests to Bear Stage’s version of the Disney film based on Hans Christian Andersen’s story.
Popcorn and water is sold for $1 and a glittery red plush crab can be purchased as a souvenir for $12, with proceeds benefiting Bear Stage productions.
Past the lobby, crabs guide attendees through the hallway and into the theater, where an orchestra made up of Buchanan students waits to begin its montage of famous songs from Disney’s “The Little Mermaid.”
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When the musicians slowly descend into the orchestra pit and the curtain is raised, the familiar story about a rebellious teenage mermaid, Ariel, begins.
Ariel, played by Buchanan senior Sydney Brueckner, dreams of living on land and often visits the ocean’s surface — an act strictly forbidden by her father, King Triton (sophomore Cameron Barger).
Meanwhile, Prince Eric (junior Nathan Fennacy) longs for an adventurous sailor’s life without the responsibility of commanding a kingdom.
In a chance meeting, Ariel falls in love with Prince Eric and makes a risky deal with the powerful sea witch, an octopus named Ursula, to become human for three days in exchange for her beautiful voice.
Buchanan freshman Abby Halpern shows her vast vocal range and acting talent in her larger-than-life performance as Ursula. Her facial expressions and voice fluctuations — both while singing and speaking — are captivating.
While Disney’s popular sing-a-long tracks like “Under the Sea,” “Part of Your World” and “Kiss the Girl” are in there, the Bear Stage musical also features new songs like “Daddy’s Little Angel,” sung by Ursula and her eels, Flotsam (Roni Williams) and Jetsam (Aly Doxey), and “Positoovity” sung by Scuttle (Abigail Cruce) and fellow gulls.
The musical accompaniment is flawless and the dance numbers are a treat to watch.
Brueckner delivers a skilled performance as Ariel, displaying an impressive vocal range, spot-on expression and delightful dancing abilities.
Senior Dayne Sorensen’s performance as Sebastian is a true highlight to the show. It takes tremendous talent to sing superbly while maintaining an accent.
Those used to the Disney film version are also treated to more backstory, answering questions like “What happened to Ariel’s mother?” and “Who is Ursula, really?”
The musical’s underwater setting gives the production staff an opportunity to get creative. How do you make it appear as if the sea creatures are swimming instead of walking? Heelys, of course. (Who knew the roller shoes came in adult sizes?)
Adorable creatures from the Elementary School of Fish — a baker’s dozen of students from various Clovis Unified elementary schools — entertain the audience between set changes.
The cleaver-wielding French Chef Louis steals the show in the second act with his comedy, garnering plenty of laughs from the audience. Nicholas Crespin exhibits unparalleled physical comedy with a voice to match.
This version of the story (thankfully) doesn’t end with a ship’s mast savagely stabbing an overgrown Ursula. Audiences will enjoy the Bear Stage’s happily ever after that delivers a message of acceptance and sacrifice.
Don’t be an unfortunate soul — don’t miss Bear Stage presents “The Little Mermaid.” Only four performances of the musical remain: 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.
What: Bear Stage Presents Disney’s “The Little Mermaid”
Where: The Mercedes Edwards Theatre, 902 5th Street, Clovis.
When: Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show begins at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 29, Saturday, April 30, Thursday, May 5, Friday, May 6 and Saturday, May 7. A matinee will be performed at 2 p.m. (doors open at 1:30 p.m.) Saturday, April 30 and Saturday, May 7.
How much: Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for students. Tickets may be purchased at www.bearstage.weebly.com.