Ross Petty Returns with The Little Mermaid

Ross Petty's The Little Mermaid.jpg

Submitted by Don Graham

Every year at Christmas time Ross Petty Productions has brought  their unique brand of family entertainment to the Elgin Theatre in Toronto. This year instead of the Brothers Grimm he has chosen Hans Christian Anderson’s The Little Mermaid as his story of choice. Ontario’s O-Fish-Al Family Musical is the 18th year of his holiday production.

This is theatrical fun at its best; a fractured fairy tale.  The humour is aimed at the entire audience with enough grown up content to keep the adults attention and the humour that has kids laughing loudly and booing and hissing at Petty’s character, the evil  Ogopogo.

“I love it” says Petty who is a serious actor with some serious stage and screen credentials behind him, “I get to be a kid again, put on the mascara and  be the villain. The more they BOO me the better.”

The story has little to do with the Disney movie. Too high a cost for the use of the brand and more to do with the Hans Christian Anderson fairytale , which as a song and dance routine in the prologue says is completely “public domain.”

In typical Petty fashion, 18 crowd pleasing years and counting, the comedy content was topical and current, with thankfully very few Rob Ford references.  I think people are tired of hearing about him so we didn’t do much about him this year,” Petty said.

Set in the Toronto Harbour and Niagara Falls, the story moved along nicely and the jokes were well written, well placed and well delivered by the great cast. The animated background was superb and kept the illusion of being underwater alive and well.

Intead of the sponsors just being named on a flyer or playbill the cast actually participated in hilarious filmed commercials.

The cast displayed a wide range of talent in the singing, dancing and acting departments, with the lead character Angel, the Little Mermaid, played by Chilina Kennedy who has a powerful and rich voice as well as superb dancing and acting skills. Dan Chameroy was a totally believeable Dame Plumbum and had the crowd in stitches. Newcomer Jordan Clark as Eris, the evil assistant used her winning ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ skills to full effect and was a large presence on stage. The rest of the talented cast included Lana Carillo as Shelly the Shrimp, Marc Devigne as Adam, Eddie Glen as Sponge Bill Triangle Pants, Reid Janisse as Carl the Clownfish (he also wrote the script) and  afine ensemble cast consisting of Jacqueline Burtney, ELinsay Croxall, Judy Kovacs, Tim Cledhill, David Light, Stephen Roberts and Julius Sermonia. The director was the talented Tracey Flye.

The audience was enthusiastic, loud and appreciative and when a beaming Ross Petty thanked the crowd during the final bows you could see the joy in his eyes and hear the warmth in his voice when he thanked them for their enthusiasm and participation.

The show runs until January 4th, 2014 at the Elgin Theatre 189 Yonge Street  in Toronto.

Make sure you don’t miss this hilarious and unique family event.

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