The Little Mermaid, NK Theatre Arts

Last night, I headed back to The Forum Theatre, this time to see the latest offering from NK Theatre Arts' young performers: The Little Mermaid.

Having absolutely loved the adult group's recent production of Made in Dagenham, I was very excited to see the young people who are growing their skills within this tight-knit theatre family.

This show featured over 60 performers aged between 5 and 16, and yet again I was wowed. Having grown up doing musicals with similar groups, I know the time and dedication taken by the young people and also the whole team around them to pull off a show of this standard.

The Little Mermaid was a perfect choice of show, and one I've not seen on stage before. It's packed with great songs, has lots of group numbers, and there are many characters and roles, meaning lots of people get their 'starring moment'.

So much thought had gone into the staging, which immediately transported audiences to the watery depths of the sea, and the use of lighting was brilliant when creating mood. I also enjoyed the raised staging effect when Ariel was moving between the sea and the land, and the use of the floor in front of the stage to expand the performance space for the bigger songs.

The youngest children in this show were tiny, about 5 years old, and a massive hats off to those who helped them learn the show and make sure they were always in the right place (and the right costume!), because it's no mean feat organising so many young ones. It was also nice to see roles like the princesses and the gulls being taken on by younger cast members. The huge cast allowed for some of the best little details, like the huge variety of sea creatures or the crowding of the boat during 'Kiss the Girl'.

Amy Earith was brilliantly cast as Ariel, with her huge eyes and expressive features making her visually every inch the Disney princess. She really lit up the stage when she was on it and her performances when singing, speaking and voiceless were very confident and polished. I also enjoyed her interactions with Ashleigh Saxon (Flounder), who had one of the strongest singing voices of the cast. I particularly enjoyed her vocals in 'She's in Love' and 'Kiss the Girl'.

Emily Wilson was completely unphased by the role of Ursula, and clearly enjoyed taking on the villain! Everything from the way she looked to the way she spoke worked to create that Ursula character I used to be frightened of when I was little, and 'Poor Unfortunate Souls' was delivered very well.

My absolute standout performer of the night, though, was Grace Maxwell as Sebastian. It's a huge, charismatic role but Grace more than delivered. I was particularly impressed by the way she maintained the accent throughout the show, and her singing was superb, especially in one of everyone's old favourites, 'Under the Sea'.

A final note, before I go on for paragraphs and paragraphs more, has to go to those who played any part in the creation or collation of the costumes. There were so many cast members, but the costumes were just spot on. There was such attention to detail, and the glitter and makeup (especially on Ursula, Flounder, Ariel and Sebastian) added another level of polish to the whole production.

Which leaves me, yet again, at a place where I rave about NK Theatre Arts. I'm so pleased to have been able to discover their shows this year, and support such a strong theatre group, showcasing the talents of their youth and their adults. 

I'm very much looking forward to seeing what comes next...


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