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The news site of UNC Wilmington

The Seahawk

The news site of UNC Wilmington

The Seahawk

The news site of UNC Wilmington

The Seahawk

REVIEW: Carolina Ballet’s “The Little Mermaid” honors the classic fairytale

A poster for Carolina Ballet’s “The Little Mermaid.” (Carolina Ballet)

Performed by the Carolina Ballet in Raleigh at the Fletcher Opera Theater on Thursday, March 7, “The Little Mermaid twists a tale of heartbreak and fate into a timeless performance. 

Inspired by Hans Christian Anderson’s classic tale, the performance paid homage to the original story, following the Little Mermaid (Courtney Schenberger) as she ventures to the surface of the ocean and discovers Prince Eric (Kiefer Curtis) as he is shipwrecked and saves him by taking him back to shore. The Little Mermaid goes to the Sea Witch (Taylor Ayotte) and trades her voice for human legs so she can go on land to be with him, with Schenberger’s shimmering tulle skirt torn away to represent the loss of her mermaid tail. When the Little Mermaid arrives on land, she discovers that her prince is already engaged to the princess (Amanda Gerhardt) who found him on shore after the Little Mermaid rescued him. Devastated, the Little Mermaid watches as they depart to be married. Although her family begs the Sea Witch to return her voice and tail, the Sea Witch tells them that the only way for the Little Mermaid to return to her family is if she kills the prince. Knowing that she can never kill her love, the Little Mermaid gives up her own life in his stead. The Son and Daughter of Air (Luke Potgieter and Margaret Severin-Hansen) honor her selfless decision by bringing the Little Mermaid into the heavens and reuniting her with her ancestors.

The dancers of the Carolina Ballet stirred the audience with graceful storytelling choreographed by Artistic Director Zalman Raffael, with Schenberger taking the lead. Playing the title role with unparalleled emotion and acting—humorous when the mermaid was getting used to legs for the first time and painfully heartbreaking when she realized she would never be with her prince—She shared a beautiful pas de deux with Prince Eric in the empty halls of the castle for a brief moment when he was away from his betrothed, as intimate as eyes locking across a room. Ayotte also stunned as the Sea Witch, her style characterized by sharp and precise movements, creating a dynamic and interesting foil for the Little Mermaid’s soft and flowing steps. The final triumphant lift of the Little Mermaid as she ascended to the heavens was breathtaking as she was raised above the stage by the prince and the Sea King (Marcelo Martinez) who held onto her calves, providing the perfect finale for the performance. 

Composed by Aaron Severini, tranquil instrumentals brought by a live orchestra conducted by Alfred E. Sturgis swelled through the audience. Cutting through the harp and violins was vocalist Rebecca Brock’s haunting voice as she sang for The Little Mermaid, providing a stunning contrast in the form of a siren’s song that brought a beguiling depth to the character and performance. 

Shomaree M. Potter and the Carolina Ballet Costume Department impressed with flowing tulle skirts that shone like mermaid scales in rainbow hues, tucking glimmering starfish and shells into the dancers’ hair. The men’s costumes appeared like seaweed on their bodies, with the human ensemble dressed in brown and deep green earth tones. 

The costumes were complemented by gorgeous set design by Rebecca Rebouché. The backdrop rippled between scenes, giving the performance the illusion of being underwater. Ranging from undersea gazeboes and Grecian statues, a sea witch’s lair, a storm-tossed ship and a seaside castle, the artwork was breathtaking. The lighting design by Ross Kolman was astounding when Prince Eric’s ship got caught within the storm, creating flashes of lightning against peals of thunder. 

General admission tickets for the Carolina Ballet vary by performance and seat, the current general ticket price for “The Little Mermaid” is $40-109 and student tickets start at $20. “The Little Mermaid” will be performed until March 24. 

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