(Even though I, myself, get super looney over all the things that Angelinos take for granted and even scoff at... but that's neither here nor there)
When I found out that one of my favs, Darren Criss (whom I've spent far too much money supporting over the last few years) was going to be involved in The Little Mermaid event at the Hollywood Bowl this last weekend, I jumped at the opportunity and immediately snatched up tickets.
Actually, my parents did as a semi-early graduation present, but that's neither here nor there!
Sure, we wound up being in the back 40, but from what I recalled about the Bowl, there's barely a bad seat to speak of in the house. And just being there was a privilege.
More than watching Criss take over the role of a Disney Prince, I was even more stoked to see 8th time Academy Award-winning Alan Menken take the stage. Wow. What more can I say about this guy. Does "making my entire childhood" count as reason enough? I'm a Millenial kid to the core, and the Disney Renaissance had a huge impact on my life. In retrospect, I consider this guy the proverbial gateway drug to my inevitable love (obsession) for musical theatre and Broadway. To kick the show off, Menken performed an amazing 20 minute long medley of some of his most formidable hits, and I could practically take off, I was so happy.
On top of my love for Menken, I can still remember the first time I saw The Little Mermaid in theaters -- yes, even at the tender age of three years old. That and Beauty and the Beast are two of my earliest memories, even down to where I was sitting as the credits begin to roll. The same goes for Aladdin, Pocahontas, Mulan, The Lion King, and all the other movies that made the Disney Ren what it was. I feel so fortunate.
I have since watched The Little Mermaid more times than I can barely count, but nothing compared to sitting in an amphitheater with nearly 20,000 Disnerds like myself, reciting every line and singing along to the beautiful voices and stellar performances of Sara Barielles, Rebel Wilson, John Stamos, Titus Burgess... et al, et al, et al!
Needless to say, it was an absolutely amazing show and experience. Barielles added an incredible amount of depth and sincerity to Ariel, while Criss was dreamy and crooning as ever as Prince Eric -- with a song or two ("Her Voice" and "If Only") plucked from the Broadway version of The Little Mermaid to actually give him something to do. Wilson was hilarious and added adlibs and personalized bits and bobs to keep us all laughing. Burgess brought the incredibly pipes and blew the "roof" top of the Bowl... if there was one, of course. One of the highlights, however, was Stamos, who took a two minute long song ("Les Poissons") and completely made it his own, including snatching the baton and conducting a 71 piece full symphony orchestra for the lulz.
The show came to an absolutely incredible head with a full fireworks show during the final credits of the film. It goes without saying that Disney does NOT skimp around with a good fireworks display. Just when it couldn't get any better, Jodi Benson, one of my childhood heroes and the voice of my entire generation, made a pop-up appearance to close it all out.
Let's just say that I cried. I cried a lot.
The Little Mermaid at the Hollywood Bowl officially closes out tonight at 8 pm with Criss, Stamos, Burgess, Wilson, and Benson taking on the lead roles, as well as the phenomenal supporting cast. If you want to snatch up tickets, you might still find a few stragglers!