By Michael Gioia
07 Apr 2012
|Photo by Joan Marcus|
Musical: The Little Mermaid
Crime: Ursula, the part-octopus sea witch, was banished from the castle of King Triton when she tried to seize the throne. Her only hope in returning to power is by capturing Ariel, the youngest and most beautiful daughter of King Triton. The evil sea witch persuades Ariel — a "Poor Unfortunate Soul" — to trade her angelic voice for a pair of legs. When the deal is done, Ariel is given a strict time limit to find true love or else her voice will forever remain in the tentacles of Ursula. Of course, the sea witch sets out to sabotage the young mermaid and hold her soul captive for all eternity.
Onstage: The role of Ursula was originated on Broadway by Sherie Rene Scott, who was nominated for an Outer Critics Circle Award for her performance. Scott brought her standout vocals — and a daffy, comic quality — to the inky-black role.
Musical Numbers: Aside from Ursula's Act One finale, the iconic "Poor Unfortunate Souls," Menken added "I Want The Good Times Back," in which Ursula sings with henchfish Flotsam and Jetsam.