‘The Little Mermaid’ at British Players is big walloping family fun

Prepare to immerse yourself in the hilarity and participate — loudly.

In the hands of the British Players, The Little Mermaid is a fun-filled romp in the British tradition of pantomime, known for raucous and wild, zany entertainment. Warning for those who tend to sit quietly and nod tentatively at the unfolding story on stage: this form is an about-face to fun and will rock your socks off. Since the early days of the Restoration, the pantomime tradition with roots in the Italian commedia dell’arte encourages and expects loud audience participation. Add that the songs are influenced by the likes of ABBA, Queen, and Bobby Darin, to name a few, lots arranged by the talented Sara Cath, the intention is clear, prepare to immerse yourself in the hilarity and participate — loudly.

Basic story, the little Mermaid Mariel (played winningly by Aubrey Tingler) falls in love with the handsome Prince Derek (Zachery Singer, a high schooler with a voice ready for prime time) whom she saved after a shipwreck. But the evil Sea Witch Octavia (played gleefully by McKenna G. Kelly) puts the kibosh on all that lovey-dovey stuff and plots to grab him for herself. As part of the bargain to live on land, Mariel gives up her voice, the only trait the Prince remembers from his catatonic state after the shipwreck. The 20-plus cast leads us through the shenanigans of Mariel’s quest for true love, filled with dancing turtles, sea creatures, coral (a sublime delivery by Lauren Pacuit), Dame Dusty played by Andrew Harasty (think Dame Edna on steroids), Elizabeth Weiss as Captain Arrrgh (name says it all), Brian Polk as faithful crab sidekick Bastian, so many more, including the cutest little Duchesses imaginable.

Aubrey Tingler as Mariel in ‘The Little Mermaid.’ Photo by Kim Harmon Photography.

There are no small parts in this big ensemble, ably directed by Emilia O’Connor, assisted by Sara Cath and a boatload of choreographers: Shannon Cron, Mallory Leembruggen, Molly Ross, and Lisa Singleton.

Costumer Nicola Hoag displayed a full sea of creatures, crabs, and tortoises, each a treat to behold. Lighting designer Steve Deming enveloped the stage with aquamarine lighting that was calm and soothing and sound designer Sarah Katz knocked everything about with high-velocity winds and blustering waves. The four-piece orchestra is a hit, too. These British Players do it all, with puns galore and more goofy double and triple entendres than you could shake a fin at.

Fairy tales are beloved for a reason: they’re filled with fantasy, excitement, and characters pushed to make courageous life choices. The program says it best: “Prepare to be swept away into a world beneath the waves, where dreams come true, and love knows no boundaries. Join Mariel and company in this delightful pantomime that will leave you singing, laughing, and believing in the power of true love and the wonders that lie within us all.”

TOP LEFT: Zachary Singer as Prince Derek; TOP RIGHT: Back Row: Lauren Pacuit as Coral, Rachel Schlaff as Storm; Middle Row: Lisa Singleton as Aqua, Aubrey Tingler as Mariel, Sonia Alam as Briny; Front Row: Lucy Hurlbut as Shell, Una Pereira as Sandy; ABOVE LEFT: Brian Polk as Bastian, Aubrey Tingler as Mariel, Zachary Singer as Prince Derek; ABOVE RIGHT: Amanda Dullin-Jones as Crusty, Jordyn Nicole as Corky, in ‘The Little Mermaid.’ Photos by Kim Harmon Photography.

Sometimes the whole family just needs to have big walloping fun together. Whether you’re ready to chuckle or guffaw, this Little Mermaid is a fun-filled aquamarine good time. Just don’t wait too long to secure tickets; seats are going fast and the chance will swim away. And remember, this show is performing at the Silver Spring Stage while the British Players’ standard Kensington site is undergoing repair.

Running Time: Two hours and 15 minutes, including a 15-minute intermission.

The Little Mermaid: A Family Pantomime plays through January 7, 2024 (Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 pm, and Saturdays and Sundays at 2:30 pm), presented by the British Players performing at Silver Spring Stage, 10145 Colesville Road, Silver Spring, MD. Purchase tickets ($25, with discounts for seniors and students) online or email [email protected]

COVID Safety: Masks are encouraged but optional.

The Little Mermaid: A Family Pantomime
Written by Warren McWilliams

Aubrey Tingler as Mariel
McKenna Kelly as Octavia
Andrew Harasty as Dame Dusty
Elizabeth Weiss as Captain Arrrgh
Ian Swank as King Triton
Zachary Singer as Prince Derek
Brian Polk as Bastian
Jordyn Nicole as Corky
Amanda Dullin-Jones as Crusty
Lisa Singleton as Aqua
Sonia Alam as Briny
Lauren Pacuit as Coral
Lucy Hurlbut as Shell
Rachel Schlaff as Storm
Una Pereira as Sandy
Tristian Singleton as King
Molly Ross as Queen/Pretty Octavia
Charlotte Leembruggen as The Herald/Ensembleproducer Colleen Darling
Richard Jacobson as Dr. Pedro Love/Ensemble
Anneka Singer as Narrator/Ensemble
Aidan Swank as The Duke of Joysville/Ensemble
Scarlett Alam & Iella Barr-O’Connor as the Duchesses of Joysville
?????? as the Ghostie-Ghoulie

Directed by Emilia O’Connor
Assistant Directed by Sara Cath
Music Arrangements: Sara Cath, Chuck Hoag
Choreographers: Shannon Cron, Mallory Leembruggen, Molly Ross, Lisa Singleton
Stage Manager: Aaron Skolnik
Costume Designer: Nicola Hoag
Lighting Designer: Steve Deming
Sound Designer: Sarah Katz
Producer: Colleen Darling

Sue Mason-McElroy: Piano
Jared Creason: Bass
Kevin Uleck: Percussion/Drums
Rick Peralta: Guitar



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