×

L.A. Theater Review: ‘The Little Mermaid in Concert’ at the Hollywood Bowl

The sea has been brought to life at the Hollywood (Fish)Bowl thanks to a game cast and classic movie.

The Hollywood Bowl has had success bringing stripped-down versions of Broadway shows to it’s amphitheater, from “The Producers” to “Spamalot,” but “The Little Mermaid in Concert,” playing through June 6, is something new. While the beloved 1989 Disney film has already been made into a Broadway musical, this version is a hybrid of the two: the film plays on screens throughout the Bowl and as they reach the musical numbers, the film stops to allow a performer to sing, backed by a flawless 71-piece orchestra. In addition, the concert features four songs written for the Broadway musical by Glenn Slater.

The result is a bit off at first (interrupting the film’s action and then returning to it can be slightly jarring) but all is forgiven when a series of phenomenally talented performers belt out the beloved tunes. While we know pop star Sara Bareilles, a Tony nominee for her “Watiress” score, has a beautiful voice, she also proves a great actress, conveying the sweetness and longing of Ariel, the mermaid who longs to live on land. “Glee” star Darren Criss gets to add some depth to the animated Prince Eric with the addition of the song “Her Voice.” Criss even provides accompaniment on the guitar, noting “I don’t play the flute” like his animated counterpart. Norm Lewis reprises the role of King Triton that he played on Broadway, a perfect match for his mighty baritone. Rebel Wilson may not have the legit voice of her co-stars, but makes up for it with attitude (or, as her Ursula might say, “body language.”) And 13-year-old Broadway actor Joshua Colley is a delight as Ariel’s sidekick Flounder in the number “She’s In Love.”

Actress Rebel Wilson performs at Disney’s “Little Mermaid In Concert” at the Hollywood Bowl on Friday.
Courtesy of Disney

But the show is stolen by two actors. John Stamos, clad in a ridiculous mustache and armed with a great sense of humor, brings the house down as Chef Louis with the number “Les Poissons.” Then there is “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” star Tituss Burgess, reprising his role from the Broadway show as Sebastian the crab. Burgess is simply perfection, filling the enormous Hollywood Bowl with electricity  as he unleashes joyful versions of “Under the Sea” and “Kiss the Girl.” It’s almost a disappointment to return to the movie when he’s done — you never want him to leave the stage.

There are nice touches to add to the show, from fireworks to fantastic lighting. Costumes are excellent, suggesting the characters without being too overt. On Friday night, attendees were treated to a medley of Disney songs by composer Alan Menken, who wrote the score and collaborated on the songs with the late Howard Ashman for both the film and penned the score for the musical.

Menken will also perform at the Saturday night show. Jodi Benson, who played Ariel in the film, will take over for Bareilles on Monday night, made a guest appearance at the end of the show and captivated the audience with her rendition of “Part of Your World.”

Produced by Andrew Hewitt & Bill Silva Presents, Laura Engel & Richard Kraft and Tim Fox & Alison Ahart Williams, in association with Disney Concerts. Concert creative direction by Richard Kraft. The show continues Sat., June 4 and Mon., June 6 at 8 p.m., doors open at 6:30 p.m. Price range is $35 – $350 and can be purchased at ticketmaster.com or via hollywoodbowl.com.

L.A. Theater Review: 'The Little Mermaid in Concert' at the Hollywood Bowl

More Legit

  • Because of Winn Dixie review

    Regional Theater Review: 'Because of Winn Dixie,' the Musical

    Watching the musical “Because of Winn Dixie” at Goodspeed Musicals in East Haddam, Conn., it’s hard not to think of another show that premiered in the same regional theater 43 years ago. It, too, featured a scruffy stray dog, a lonely-but-enterprising young girl and a closed-off daddy who finally opens up. But “Winn Dixie,” based [...]

  • MOSCOW MOSCOW MOSCOW MOSCOW MOSCOW MOSCOWby

    Off Broadway Review: 'Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow'

    There’s something about Anton Chekhov’s whiny sisters that invites comic sendups of “Three Sisters” like the one Halley Feiffer wrote on commission for the Williamstown Theater Festival. Transferred to MCC Theater’s new Off Broadway space and playing in the round in a black box with limited seating capacity, the crafty show feels intimate and familiar. [...]

  • the way she spoke review

    Off Broadway Review: 'The Way She Spoke' With Kate del Castillo

    Since the 1990s, scores of women in Juarez, Mexico have been mutilated, raped, and murdered at such a rate that some have called it an epidemic of femicide—killing women and girls solely because they are women. Isaac Gomez’s play “the way she spoke,” produced Off Broadway by Audible and starring Kate del Castillo, confronts the [...]

  • HBO's 'SUCCESSION

    Brian Cox Playing LBJ in Broadway Run of 'The Great Society'

    Brian Cox will play President Lyndon Johnson in the Broadway run of “The Great Society,” playwright Robert Schenkkan’s follow-up to “All the Way.” The role of Johnson, a crude, but visionary politician who used the office of the presidency to pass landmark civil rights legislation and social programs, was originally played by Bryan Cranston in [...]

  • Paul McCartney Has Penned Score for

    Paul McCartney Has Been Secretly Writing an 'It's a Wonderful Life' Musical

    The pop superstar who once released a movie and album called “Give My Regards to Broad Street” really does have designs on Broadway, after all. It was revealed Wednesday that Paul McCartney has already written a song score for a stage musical adaptation of the 1946 Frank Capra film classic “It’s a Wonderful Life.” The [...]

  • The Night of the Iguana review

    West End Review: 'The Night of the Iguana' With Clive Owen

    If Tennessee Williams is the poet laureate of lost souls, none of his characters as are off-grid as the restless travelers trying to make it through his little-seen 1961 play, “The Night of the Iguana.” Holed up in a remote Mexican homestay, its ragtag itinerants live hand-to-mouth, day by day, as they seek refuge from [...]

  • Moulin Rouge Broadway

    Listen: The Special Sauce in Broadway's 'Moulin Rouge!'

    There are songs in the new Broadway version of “Moulin Rouge!” that weren’t in Baz Luhrmann’s hit movie — but you probably know them anyway. They’re popular tunes by superstars like Beyoncé, Adele and Rihanna, released after the 2001 movie came out, and they’ll probably unleash a flood of memories and associations in every audience [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content