One of my favorite Disney Cartoons is The Little Mermaid. Even before I had children, I loved it. I thought it was all about the music but this past weekend, I took my daughters to see Disney’s The Little Mermaid the live production at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, a Broadway musical adaptation of the beloved film, staged by award winning director and choreographer, Rachel Rockwell. I fell in love all over again with this charming tale but this time for completely different reasons.
Every summer we make a trip to the city and spend the day at Navy Pier. It always starts with a family series production at The Chicago Shakespeare Theater. If you’ve never been, you really must go. Each year, the productions seems to get better and better. Last year, the girls saw Seussical and the year before, Shrek the Musical but we all agreed, the 75-minute production of The Little Mermaid is our new favorite.
There is just something so charming about bringing your child (or your own) childhood favorite cartoon to life. It truly is magical and the Chicago Shakespeare Theater never disappoints. The theater is intimate and interactive, with characters flowing in and out of the aisles. The stage is so close that you not only feel like you can reach out and touch the story but you feel a part of it. If you want to teach your children to love the theater, the Chicago Shakespeare Theater is a great place to start. I took my children to their first production when they were 5 and 3-years-old.
This summer’s Chicago Shakespeare theater production surprised me because I saw the story through new eyes, maybe it’s because I am a parent of daughters now, myself. The musical follows Ariel, (Rachel Eskenazi-Gold) a young mermaid that longs for a life beyond the sea. In her adventure to independence, she defies her father, King Triton (Matthew Jones), makes a deal with the sea witch, Ursula (Rebecca Finnegan) and find her happiness with Prince Eric (Brandon Springman) all while accompanied by her loyal friends, Sebastian (joseph Anthony Byrd) and Flounder (Matthew Uzarraga).
This time, I not only saw the story of a young girl trying to assert her independence and the arc of falling in love for the first time, I saw the story of a parent letting go and I found myself crying in the audience. It was unexpected and beautiful. This time, it wasn’t just about first love it was about the ultimate love, that of a parent and a child. I don’t know how I never saw it before.
My daughters are only 8 and 10-years-old but the letting go has already begun. The asserting of independence started almost immediately and now, well, tweens seem a lot more independent then when I was their age.
The stage design was vibrant and beautiful and I felt like I was under the sea with Ariel and all of the others. The Chicago Shakespeare Theater really made The Little Mermaid come to life and it was beyond memorable.
If you have small children or as the lady sitting next to me, have grown children who grew up on The Little Mermaid, bring them. They will love it and you will all leave the Pier feeling absolutely nostalgic and wanting to hug one another, just a couple minutes longer. That is the magic of the marriage of Disney and the stage.
The 75-inute production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid is best enjoyed by ages 5 and up and runs from now until August 16 in CST’s Courtyard Theater. Tickets are $22-$24 with special discounts available for groups of 10 or more. All patrons receive a 40% parking discount at Navy Pier Garages. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s box office at 312-595-5600 or visit the website at www.chicagoshakes.com
While you’re there make a day of it. Navy Pier is growing like crazy. We had lunch at Harry Caray’s and dessert via Garrett’s Popcorn (Chicago Mix, baby!) but there are so many options and you can’t beat the view of the city! Just walk outside and wander after a show and the possibilities are endless.
Disclosure: I was provided tickets for review purposes of The Little Mermaid but all opinions are my own.