**** Recommended **** I was in a quandary as I watched The Little Mermaid. The performance was magnificent, the performers, especially Victoria Jaiani, were incredible. The story is dark, sad and brooding, quite frankly making me a little uncomfortable, and I wasn’t all that fond of Lera Auerbach’s score either. John Neumeier’s choreography was complicated and challenging, making for a beautiful ballet. As usual, the Joffrey dancers execute the most complicated choreography with flawless technique and timing. 4 BIG Spotlights
Many people theorize that Hans Christian Anderson wrote The Little Mermaid as a secret gift for his dear friend, Edvard, what with the anonymous poet responsible for creating the mermaid while remembering his friend’s wedding. What do you think?
There are two sets of dancers in the principal roles. I saw Stefan Goncalvez as the Poet, Victoria Jaiani as the Little Mermaid, Dylan Gutierrez as Edvard/the Prince, Anais Bueno as Henriette/the Princess and Yoshihisa Arai as the Sea Witch. At other performances those roles were filled by Xavier Núñez, the Poet; Gayeon Jung, the Little Mermaid; Hyuma Kiyosawa, Edvard/the Prince; Amanda Assucena, Henriette/the Princess- and Edson Barbosa, The Sea Witch.
The Poet (Goncalvez) remembers the wedding of his dear friend Edvard (Gutierrez) to Henriette (Bueno). As he remembers the guests laughing and celebrating, a tear rolls down his cheek falling into the ocean.
Wedding Guests: Coco Alvarez-Mena, Anabelle de la Nuez, Olivia Duryea, Dara Holmes, Brooke Linford, Princess Reid, Basia Rhoden, Edson Barbosa, Evan Boersma, Derek Drilon, Blake Kessler, Graham Maverick, Davide Oldano and Andre McGregor II
At the bottom of the sea, the Poet’s tear has become a Little Mermaid (Jaiani). Lifted by the Magic Shadows (Jonathan Dole, Valentino Moneglia Zamora, Aaron Renteria) the Little Mermaid gracefully swims back and forth. Her greenish-blue mermaid skin – with ‘fins’ extending at least 12 inches beyond her foot – almost glows against the dark sea background.
Jaiani’s hands and arms were in constant motion, duplicating the motion of fish in the sea. By the way, I don’t even want to guess how difficult it was to dance while wearing those mermaid legs extending so far past her feet. After the Sea Witch stripped off her mermaid skin and she went ashore, Jaiani again demonstrated her versatility by becoming awkward on her feet, completely losing her normal grace. At one point, she practically clumped across the stage.
The Mermaid’s Sisters, Valeria Chaykina, Lucia Connolly, Jeraldine Mendoza, Christine Rocas, Julia Rust, also wore blue-green costumes but the length was more normal. The creatures in the sea wore fantastical costumes in colors found under the sea.
The Sea: Coco Alvarez-Mena, Anabelle de la Nuez, Olivia Duryea, Dara Holmes, Brooke Linford, Basia Rhoden, Derek Drilon, Graham Maverick, Davide Oldano, Pablo Armenteros Garcia, Andre McGregor II and Jackson Mitchell
Naval Officers: Evan Boersma, José Pablo Castro Cuevas, Zachary Manske, Xavier Núñez and Wictor Hugo Pedroso
Sailors: Edson Barbosa, Blake Kessler, Yuchan Kim, Hyuma Kiyosawa and Mingus De Swaan
School friends of the Princess: Amanda Assucena, Yumi Kanazawa, Nae Kojima, Natali That and Miu Tanaka
Nuns: Lucia Connolly and Julia Rust
Passengers: Coco Alvarez-Mena, Anabelle de la Nuez, Olivia Duryea, Dara Holmes, Brooke Linford, Princess Reid, Basia Rhoden, Edson Barbosa, Evan Boersma, Derek Drilon, Blake Kessler, Graham Maverick, Davide Oldano and Andre McGregor II**
Stewards: Evan Boersma, José Pablo Castro Cuevas, Zachary Manske, Xavier Núñez and Wictor Hugo Pedroso
Bridesmaids: Amanda Assucena, Yumi Kanazawa, Nae Kojima, Natali That and Miu Tanaka
Visions of the Sea: Lauren Bemisderfer, Isadora Bless, Audrey Nelson, Pablo Armenteros Garcia, Koa Chun and Jackson Mitchell
Note: Guests are encouraged but not required to wear masks while inside the building.
The Little Mermaid is performed through April 30th at the Lyric Opera House, 20 North Wacker Drive, Chicago. Closest parking option is the Poetry Garage, 201 W. Madison. $13 evening and weekend parking available on performance dates. Running time is 2 hours, 25 minutes, with an intermission.
Remaining performances are Thursday, April 27th at 7:30 pm; Friday, April 28th at 7:30 pm; Saturday, April 29th at 2:00 and 7:30 pm; and Sunday, April 30th at 2:00 pm. Single tickets start at $36. FYI (312) 386-8905 or www.joffrey.org.