The Little Mermaid currently playing at the Toronto Fringe doesn’t seem very Fringe-like at all. And I mean that in the best possible way. It’s a visually stunning show with grand costumes and an ensemble cast of 16! Now that’s worth seeing.
The show starts of with fog machines as six gorgeous belly dancers take the stage. Their movements are so graceful and wave-like that there is no mistaking that they are in the ocean. In the next scene they bring out these giant sheets of fabric that transform the stage into an ocean. It really is mesmerizing.
The music in this piece is so well suited that you don’t even miss the fact that there is absolutely no dialogue. Silent pieces are not usually my thing at all, but the music and the movements are so engaging that I almost didn’t notice . Sarah Skinner’s direction and choreography is what makes this show. But that’s not all, she also plays the Little Mermaid and conveys a lot through her expressions and dance.
The dance styles in this show range from traditional belly dancing to Latin dance to modern dance. Lauren Lyn performs what I’m going to call a Tango with such passion and vigour that you get totally lost in her performance.
Every time I marveled at what they were able to do with yards of gorgeous fabric, they topped it. We saw beautiful waves and massive wings and cascading fans all made out of this light airy material that created a breathtaking set.
There is a scene where the girls come through the audience with candle trays balanced on their heads, belly dancing all the way through. This seemed like quite the feat as they went up and down stairs and even lay flat on the stage and then rose up again without missing a beat.
I really like that this was no Disney fairy tale. The story is a lot darker, more like a Brothers Grimm take on the story, where the mermaid definitely does not live happily ever after with the prince. Don’t worry I’m not ruining anything here – it says so in the program.
I happened to be sitting next to first time Fringers who were also blown away by the use of fabric and said that they really enjoyed the show.
The show ended with an upbeat dance number where the entire cast performed together and the audience clapped to the beat of the music all the way through.
If you’re looking for something different this Fringe or just love dance or visually engaging pieces, you have to go see this show. After seeing this I feel like The Little Mermaid was meant to be performed as a belly dancing show, and that’s saying a lot!
- The Little Mermaid plays at Venue 8, The Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse (79A Saint George St.)
- Show times: July 06 10:30 PM, July 08 07:15 PM, July 10 06:30 PM, July 11 04:00 PM, July 12 06:00 PM, July 13 11:00 PM, July 15 05:45 PM
- All individual Fringe tickets are $10 at the door (cash only). Tickets are available online at www.fringetoronto.com, by phone at 416-966-1062, in person at The Randolph Centre for the Arts, 736 Bathurst Street (Advance tickets are $11 – $9+$2 service charge)
- Value packs are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows