Topeka Civic Theatre’s ‘The Little Mermaid’ excites, enchants

Ali Dade

Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” is the current musical running at Topeka Civic Theatre. It is based upon the Disney Motion Picture, “The Little Mermaid” that was originally released November, 1989.

The plot follows a teenage mermaid, Ariel, who is the granddaughter of the Greek god, Poseidon, who was the king of the ocean and all of it’s creatures. Poseidon’s only son, King Triton, now oversees the ocean and its creatures, while his only living sister, Ursula, tries to take her brother’s position as ruler. Ariel wants desperately to live among the humans, but is not allowed to, until she is tricked by Ursula to trade her voice for a pair of human legs.

As well as the main plot of family betrayal, the story details a forbidden romance between Ariel and Prince Eric, the prince of the nearby island where Ariel lands after receiving her legs.

The musical version of Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” is very close to that of the original Disney movie that many young adults and children grew up watching and loving, the only difference being that more musical numbers and songs are present. However, popular songs from the original movie are still present in the musical version, including, “Part of Your World,” “Under the Sea,” “Poor Unfortunate Souls” and “Kiss the Girl.”

The protagonist of the show, Ariel is played by Jaclyn Amber Nischbach, who graduated from the University of Kansas in May with a Bachelor’s of Art in theater performance. The casting in this main role was very fitting, as Nischbach performed as the character with enthusiasm and passion. It felt as if it was the role she was made to perform for. Ariel’s makeup, hair and costumes were all very similar to that of the movie version.

Ariel’s love interest, Prince Eric is played by Gregory Dean and he jokes that he has always dreamed of being cast as the lead role [Ariel] in Disney’s “The Little Mermaid”, but that the role of Prince Eric is a close second for him. Dean plays the role of Eric with ease and excitement.

The technical aspects of the show are strong, giving the feeling that you’ve truly been transported to an undersea world, using green and blue colored stage lights, beaded curtain, and spot-on props to set the mood for the show. The costumes for the non-human characters were also detailed and as similar to the cartoon characters as possible. A few of the most convincing costumes being Ursula, who is portrayed as a human-sea witch with long purple and black tentacles hanging off of her body, Scuttle, a goofy seagull sporting a colorful vest, and Sebastian, the cautious sea-crab, decorated in a bright red suit with golden glimmering accents.

Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” will be showing at Topeka Civic Theatre every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night, with a matinee on Sundays through August 13, for more information visit, or call (785) 357-5211.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars