By Daniel Lahr

Contributing Writer

The Little Mermaid is a classic story that turned 182 years old this year. Written by Hans Christian Andersen in 1837, this story has been told and retold in many ways, with the most famous done in 1989 by the Walt Disney Company.

Disney produced an adaptation that put Ariel in the front and center in its massive corporate branding machine, and she’s been there ever since. Disney made the original, and much darker material, into something that resonated with today’s audiences.

Today, there are multiple adaptations and retelling of that 1989 animated film, including a live-action re-make in the works, a live broadcast on ABC, theme park attractions, and even theatrical productions. This includes one playing in Santa Maria at Hancock College’s Marian Theater through Dec. 22.

PCPA goes all out in their production, and the spectacle is awe-inspiring. The play itself is based on the 1989 film, so it includes many familiar things, but also expands on the original material with new scenes and songs.

Something that makes the show stand out from other PCPA productions is that this one has collaborated with New York City’s 2 Ring Circus to bring breathtaking aerial feats to life on stage. This helps make the action to look as if you’re under the sea, swimming with all the sea creatures, or on a ship watching sailors climb the tall mast.

The cast is massive, which includes the 2 Ring Circus performers, and all your favorite PCPA resident artists in roles that seem custom made for them.

Erik Stein is King Triton, George Walker nearly steals the show as Scuttle, and Guest Artist Katie Emerson does a great job of bringing the titular character to life.

Kitty Balay does an outstanding job with her performance as Ursula.

Most of all, however, Kitty Balay simply is Ursula, and they really couldn’t have anyone better for that role.

These actors are fantastic, but perhaps the real stars of the show are the costume and design teams. The costumes are bright, vibrant and just what you would expect in a production like this. I can only imagine how much fun working on the costume for Ursula was.

PCPA has another well-deserved feather in their cap for this holiday season production. It is a real crowd pleaser and one that the whole family will enjoy. Our 4-year-old daughter was enthralled throughout a recent matinee.

These shows will undoubtedly sell out. Everyone will want to see this.

Tickets are $38-$50 and performances are only at the Marian Theater in Santa Maria. Call the box office at 805-922-8313 or visit for more information.

George Walker as Scuttle
Katie Emerson* as Ariel
Daniel Geiger as Flounder