QUEENS CHRONICLE, Thursday, July 26, 2018 Page 26
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Andersen’s beloved tale of the sea gets an A by Mark Lord
‘The Little Mermaid’
A joyous celebration — one likely to delight both young and old — is taking place at The Immaculate Conception Center in Douglaston through July 28, courtesy of Broadway Blockbusters. It goes by the name of “The Little Mermaid,” and it’s a live theatrical rendering of the popular Hans Christian Andersen story and Disney film, but there’s scarcely anything small about it. A talented cast of 40, under the steadfast direction of Andrew J. Koslosky, fills the huge stage, which becomes the underwater locale for this tale of a beautiful young mermaid named Ariel who longs to experience life in the world above. To paraphrase one of the show’s most famous songs, there are costumes and special effects galore, not to mention a crackerjack orchestra, cartoon-like settings and a lighting scheme that adds the finishing touch. From the opening moments, the audience is overwhelmed with the sights and sounds that emanate from the stage. Lisa Bondi shines throughout, whether under the sea or on the land where she yearns to be. She is ideally paired with Richard Masin, as the gallant if somewhat girl-
When: Thu.-Fri., July 26-27, 8 p.m.; Sat., July 28, 2 and 8 p.m. Where: Immaculate Conception Center, 7250 Douglaston Pkwy., Douglaston Tickets: $25; $40 VIP; brunch/dinner $30 more (select shows only). (347) 556-3325, thejosephinefoundation.org
Lisa Bondi, Andrew J. Koslosky, Richard Masin, inset, and their castmates perform “The Little Mermaid” swimmingly. PHOTOS BY MARK LORD shy Prince Eric. They look great together and sing beautifully, too. Koslosky makes for a fierce but ultimately loving King Triton, always having his seven daughters’ best interest at heart. As his sister, the evil sea witch Ursula, Monica Maddock delivers one of the show’s most powerful numbers, “Poor Unfortunate Souls,” with gusto.
Offering considerable comic relief are Donald Gormanly, as the king’s court composer crab, Sebastian, entrusted with the impossibly catchy “Under the Sea”; Dan Stravino, who, in a cameo as a royal chef, cooks up plenty of laughs along with his pot full of fish; Marco Vittozzi, as Ariel’s best friend, Flounder, who swims about with relish; and Tara Mangione, as a flutter-
ing seagull named Scuttle. Giovanni Vittozzi is properly dignified as the prince’s personal advisor; Bethany Pincus and Gianna Varrassi sing and move well as a pair of Ursula’s minions; and all six of Ariel’s sisters are pretty and sing sweetly. The entire cast, from the youngest to the oldest, blend into a seamless ensemble. Kudos to the estimable music director Patrick White; choreographers Masin and Alyssa Pitaluga for the diverse dance moves; technical director Tim Morgenstern; lighting technician Steven Kristie; sound and effects technician Matthew Henderson; and, most heartily, to Francine Morgenstern, who conceived the endless array of Q colorful and creative costumes.
A slaying, sex and humor — that about covers it by Mark Lord
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Agatha Christie is back for another round of intrigue, as The Gingerbread Players present the rarely performed “Go Back for Murder,” a play the author adapted from her own novel “Five Little Pigs.” This extremely limited run is for two performances only, on Aug. 4 and 5. A young heiress, Carla LeMarchant (played by Jillian Smith), discovers that 16 years earlier her mother had been convicted of murdering the then-little girl’s father, though she believes this not to be the case and sets about to uncover the truth.
‘Go Back for Murder’ When: Sat., Aug. 4, 7:30 p.m.; Sun., Aug. 5, 2:30 p.m. Where: St. Luke’s Church, 85 Greenway South, Forest Hills Tickets: $15; $12 seniors, members of groups of six or more. (718) 268-7772, gingerbreadplayers.org
The greatest challenge with a mystery play is “creating an atmosphere that draws people in,” said Jean Tessier, who undertakes her second directorial assignment of a Christie work for the Forest Hills troupe. “You want to keep them on the edge.” But the fun comes from the humor that pervades much of Christie “even in the darkest moments,” Tessier said. “She had a good grasp of human nature.” For Smith, who has been appearing with the Players since she was herself a young girl, the play marks a drastic change of pace. “It’s my first strong character,” she said during a brief break at a recent rehearsal. “I’m usually on stage crying in a pretty dress.” The experience finds Smith having to figure out her character’s relationship with each of the other on-stage personalities. These include several Gingerbread mainstays, among them Andrew Dinan, who seemed to discover at that rehearsal that “everyone in this play has an untoward sexual interest. That’s what drives the plot.” He described his own character, one of the father’s best friends, as “a next-door neighbor on the outside of everything.” Another returnee is Ludovic Coutaud,
David Kemp, left, Jillian Smith and Andrew Dinan rehearse the Gingerbread Players’ PHOTO BY MARK LORD rendition of Agatha Christie’s “Go Back for Murder.” who plays Jeff, a wealthy young man who is “self-centered, hateful, obnoxious.” Coutaud said he provides much of the play’s comic relief through his three “tornado” scenes. Also figuring prominently is newcomer David Kemp, who takes a romantic interest in Carla as the son of the lawyer who
defended her mother. The cast also includes Debbie Smith and Mike Miller as Carla’s parents; Bart DeFinna, Farrah Diaz-Tello, Suzanne Schick and Lauren Butler as some of the characters who were on the scene on the day of the father’s death; Amina CunQ ningham; and Mariella Russo.