Ballet Theatre of Maryland’s production of The Little Mermaid is a beautiful celebration of dance and storytelling. Performed at the Westin Annapolis Hotel to a mask-wearing, limited audience, with the dancers masked as well, each performance is also livestreamed, allowing for audiences to view it anywhere. With choreography by Dianna Cuatto, it demonstrates the talent and resilience of BTM’s dancers and technicians.
This review covers Cast 2. Victoria Siracusa plays Pearl, the title character, with great emotion. In her first scene with Prince Patrick (Isaac Martinez), she stays on the floor, moving her legs like a tail and suspended by Martinez. One of her best solo performances has her trying out her human legs for the first time, dance-stumbling and swaying until she gets the hang of it. She recoils in horror at Melusine’s (Lindsey Bell) proposition, held back by the villains. In a highly emotional scene, she throws up her arms in despair, twirling about the stage until she rolls to the ground.
Isaac Martinez plays Prince Patrick with great energy. He leaps and spins across the stage, full of movement. He connects with Siracusa beautifully, constantly lifting her up or holding onto her, sometimes turning her upside down, while she folds herself into him. Toward the end, he emotionally tries to block Siracusa’s exit.
Marjorie O’Hearne gives Atalanta, queen of the mermaids and Pearl’s mother, a commanding authority, entering the stage carried by two masked dancers. Her argument with Siracusa is dramatic and fluid, ending with a shocking act.
Lindsey Bell dominates the stage as the sea witch Melusine, leaping and twirling. Richard Link gives a sinister air to Melusine’s underling Aqualion, holding back Siracusa and moving Lorelei (Clara Molina) around the stage like a chess piece. Clara Molina has great range as Lorelei, the ashray temptress, passionately leaping across the stage in the beginning, then, while seducing Martinez, dancing delicately, gracefully, ensnaring him. Sarah Hoffman, Audrey Martin, Madeline Jones, Olivia Fohsz, and Isabella Warshaw play the other Anemones with great energy, spinning across the stage.
Brenna Sweeney plays Fathom, Pearl’s friend, with an airiness, gliding across the stage. Invisible, she dances with Martinez, twirling and pulling him where he needs to go. She places herself between Siracusa and O’Hearne as their argument starts to escalate, trying to stop things. She also has great comic timing when hiding from the humans by putting a lampshade over her head or diving under the bedsheets.
Sarah Jung gives Ellspeth, the Prince’s tutor, a quiet, noble strength. She is an observer for much of the ballet; even while dancing with Martinez, she seems to be on her own, gliding off at the right time. Celia Merritt gives the Queen of Air a lightness, carefully dancing throughout the stage. Her Air Sylphs (Mia Koshansky, Ansley Mater, Samantha Boteler, Hannah Hanson, Lena Easter, and Julie Smith) have a delicate air to them, as though they might float away.
The set, constructed and painted by Susan Johnson, Calder Taylor, and Aaron Bauer, is simple yet effective. A large, colorful rock gives a place for the Prince to rest and Pearl to hide behind. The Prince’s palace has a bed in one corner and a small table and chairs in another, while Melusine’s lair has a large mirror in one corner. One scene has Pearl and the Prince in a boat that moves across the stage. Costume Designer Alyssa Johnson-Taylor creates distinctive outfits for each character, for some of them more than one. Pearl begins in blue leggings, later changing to a tan dress and then a blue dress. The Prince starts in a white shirt and black pants, changing into a silver shirt and white leggings. Fathom wears a pink dress, while Melusine, Lorelei, and Aqualion all wear dark green full body suits, later changing to dark blue outfits. The Queen of Air and the Air Sylphs wear silver dresses and carry silver balloons.
Lighting Designers Nicole Kelsch and Alexander Collen help emphasize the changing atmosphere of each scene through bathing the stage in purples and blues. The lights fade in between scenes. Videographer Ted Atsinger keeps the action in frame with close-ups and pan-outs. Dianna Cuatto’s choreography is full of lovely movements that are beautiful to watch and help tell the story all without words. This production highlights the versatility of ballet, showing that it can be performed in any location and still enchant audiences both in-person and online. Only one performance remains, so be sure to catch it!
Running Time: Approximately one hour, with no intermission.
The Little Mermaid is available for livestreaming one more time—at 2 pm ET Sunday, February 28, 2021—on the Ballet Theatre of Maryland’s website. For tickets and information on this and future BTM performances, please visit their website.