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The fantastic design of Japanese Production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid Musical


The original Broadway version of Disney’s The Little Mermaid musical was derided by critics for having the cast propel around the stage on wheelie sneakers to simulate swimming. It never really worked and instead took the audience out of the performance.

In the Japanese production at the Shiki Theatre Company, the creative team chose a different tact and used beautiful wirework similar to what you see in the Finding Nemo stage show at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

I’m not sure what to make about Ariel’s floating hair, you be the judge:

Compare that with this preview for the US version, The performers gave it their all, but those roller skates were just weird.

If Disney Theatrical was planning a revival of the show, which version would you rather see?

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7 thoughts on “The fantastic design of Japanese Production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid Musical”

  1. While I think the Japanese version is really cool and definitely a better way of handling the illusion of swimming, I disagree about the wheelie sneakers not working. When my family and I went to see Little Mermaid on Broadway, we thought it was fantastic. We had wondered how they were going to handle the swimming effect, and I personally thought it worked really well. Especially if you sat further down, and the “waves” actually hid the wheelie sneakers. I might be prejudiced though, because I loved the Tarzan musical in Disney with its rollerblading cast.

    Of all the Disney Broadway plays I’ve seen (most of them), Little Mermaid was the best so far. It had the best costumes, the most elaborate sets, and amazing singers (the kid playing Flounder blew everyone away), and I really liked the wheelie sneakers.

  2. Saw the same production at The Netherlands a few years ago. Nice show, but not really the Disney standard! The hair makes them look like gardengnomes ;)

  3. I also saw this production in The Netherlands a couple of years ago. I was very disappointed in the production. Stage Entertainment was responsible for the design of the production and I thought it looked cheap and tacky. Would much rather have seen the original Broadway production, that looked more theatrical and lavish. This Japanese production looks exactly the same as the Stage entertainment production, guess that this is the norm now for Little Mermaid….She deserves much better…..

  4. Hm, i have seen the Broadway show and I really liked it. The wheelies were okay, but the way the Japanese do it looks way more real. The Japanese take on it with the Broadway costumes would be great, that I’d like to see.

  5. I saw The Little Mermaid on Broadway when I was about 8. Yes, I know 8 doesn’t say much but I was a very cultured little kid. I knew good from bad and thought The Little Mermaid was amazing! I saw 3 shows that week: The Little Mermaid, Mary Poppins and The Lion King. Of those shows I enjoyed The Little Mermaid the most. The other shows were amazing as well but Little Mermaid topped! I loved the wheelies I thought (and still think) that they were genius. My mom also agrees that it brought a new unique element to the show. I personally think that the opinion of critics shouldn’t matter as much. People loved it so let us love it instead of saying, “what you like isn’t good, go see this instead” when we may not feel that way.

  6. Saw the broadway and dutch production. Broadway wins by far! Netherlands production looked so cheap and felt the target audience was children. The broadway production however was beautiful and lush and felt more targeted at adults. Such a shame it’s gone forever, I loved that one :(

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