© Copyright 2010 Tink *~*~*
Disney characters are always shape-shifting and morphing into and out of the human form. Take Prince Naveen, for instance. He’s a frog trying to get back into his prince’s body by kissing a girl, but ends up turning her into a frog, too. They have a terrible time trying to get back to their old selves. Then there’s Prince Adam, aka “The Beast” – he angered a beggar woman who was really a witch and she turned him into the beast he behaved like. Only true love would transform him back. And we cannot forget Pinocchio – poor kid, all he wanted was to be a “real boy”, and for a time it seemed like he’d have to settle for merely having no strings.
One of the best transformation-to-human-form stories in the Disney repertoire is that of Ariel, The Little Mermaid. There she is, minding her own business, and along comes a handsome prince to tempt her into wanting to be someone other than who and what she is. She wants FEET, she wants LEGS – and she trades her beautiful, precious voice to get them, just so that she can get to HIM. It’s kind of disappointing, in this day and age, to be faced with a beautiful, animated story filled with great tunes – and a princess who is SO willing to physically alter herself in order to get her man.
And so it was with a bit of trepidation that I purchased tickets for myself and my passel of nieces to see Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” on Broadway during the Christmas season in 2007. They adored the Disney film, especially the oldest, who’d had an Ariel fish tank when she was a toddler. It seemed like something that would please them all, so I took the plunge and ordered the tickets. Soon the day was approaching and I flew to NY for Christmas.
We had a nice day; we took the train from Long Island to Penn Station, walked up 7th Avenue, had lunch at Ruby Tuesday and then proceeded to the theater for our matinee performance. I was delighted with the additional songs, and the voices – especially that of Ariel’s wicked aunt Ursula, played by Sherie Rene Scott. But despite the added material, the story progressed much the same as it does in the film, with Ariel committing the Faustian equivalent of selling her soul for love by trading away her one true gift to the sea witch in exchange for a more human form.
During the last five minutes of the show, something remarkable happens. Disney diverges significantly from their original “Little Mermaid” film, delivering a happy ending that even a middle-aged feminist can get behind. In the film, Prince Eric destroys the enemy by running Ursula through with the prow of his ship. But in the Broadway show, Ariel saves herself. She finally gets angry enough at being manipulated, tricked and used by her aunt and decides to stand up for herself and her hapless father. This is no ordinary princess, waiting for the prince or Daddy or whomever to come to her aid. Back against the wall, she uses her brains, seizes control and destroys the enemy, saving EVERYONE, including her prince, her father, the kingdom – and herself.
Broadway Ariel rocks. I was glad I took the girls to see her 🙂