January 10, 2008 – The Broadway Musical The Little Mermaid Officially Begins its Run
“I knew how it would sound under the sea on stage, but not how it would look. That was the biggest challenge, and it was so out of my hands.” – Alan Menken
On January 10, 2008, the Broadway musical version of the hit 1989 animated feature film The Little Mermaid began its run at the Lunt-Fontanne Theater. Previews had run from November 3, 2007, with a pre-Broadway run at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. Originally supposed to open on December 6, 2007, this opening was delayed due to the stagehands strike of 2007. The challenge of the musical was to keep true to the story, but also portray a world underwater. Francesca Zambello, the director, had an extensive opera background, which made her quite willing to take on this task. Alan Menken, the original songwriter for the 1989 film, was brought in to be part of the production team, with lyricist Glenn Slater working with him to write 10 new songs for the musical. The book was written by Doug Wright, who made the focus of Ariel’s journey her pursuit of living her life on her own terms. The original cast included Sierra Boggess as Ariel, Sean Palmer as Eric, Brian D’Addario and Trevor Braun alternating the role of Flounder, Norm Lewis as King Triton, Sherie Rene Scott as Ursula, Tituss Burgess as Sebastian, Tyler Maynard as Flotsam, Derrick Baskin as Jetsam, Jonathan Freeman as Grimsby, and John Treacy Egan as Chef Louis. While the audience response to the musical was positive, critics were mixed, with most being rather critical. It was nominated for two Tony Awards: Best Original Score, and Best Lighting Design of a Musical. The musical closed on August 30, 2009, after 50 previews and 685 performances. Since then, it has had an American tour, and several international productions.