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Little Mermaid: Stink or Swim!

During its Denver tryout, The Little Mermaid was awash in criticism, including this review from Westword’s Juliet Wittman that should have sent it to the bottom of the ocean. Now the show’s opened on Broadway, and judging from a January 11 piece in the Wall Street Journal, the New York run of the Disney musical should go swimmingly. Sure, critic Terry Teachout noted a few problems, including the “American Idol-style singing” of the Little Mermaid, still played by Denver’s own Sierra Boggess, but the overall production is “both visually and emotionally satisfying,” Teachout opined. “[Director Francesca] Zambello and her collaborators have fooled the naysayers and given us a musical that does justice to the lovely little film from which it sprang. I’d see it again in a heartbeat.”

Not, however, if the New York Times has its way. Reviewer Ben Brantley didn't like the show any better than Wittman did, and his scathing January 11 piece concluded with this: "Thoroughly plastic and trinketlike, this show seems less like an interpretation of a movie musical than of the figurines and toys it inspired."

This could be the one that got away. -- Patricia Calhoun

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun