I don't know how many of you read ModFab's "stage addiction" column. The latest entry is hilariously titled "Sorry, You're Too Fat To Play an Octopus" --and this theater gossip nugget infuriated me...
Apparently, Emily Skinner (Side Show, The Full Monty) was dumped from the cast of Disney's Broadway-bound Little Mermaid after participating in a number of workshops as the octopus villainess Ursula. Her replacement? Sherie Rene Scott (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels). We take nothing away from Sherie, who we love, but why did they make the switch when they already had a stellar talent on board? The answer, sadly, is this: the producers though Skinner too zaftig to play the octopus.I know that some of you readers don't get a chance to see Broadway or Off Broadway shows and probably hum through (or skip altogether) my theater posts. But this is absolutely maddening. Did Disney producers get Ursula confused with the Ursula ripoff character "Eris" in Sinbad --same coloring, tentacle-like gaseous trail, only svelte --like Michelle Pfeiffer who voiced her? This is a very telling sign that The Little Mermaid could suck as loudly as Tarzan on Broadway. Ursula, is after all one of the great screen villains. And if you get her wrong... you've already lost.
I l-o-v-e Sherie Rene Scott. She was perfection in The Last Five Years , faux sunny and funny in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and a giddy hoot in Debbie Does Dallas: The Musical --I usually freak out if she's in a show. But Emily Skinner is a better fit for this role. She's also really funny. She has a great voice. And she wouldn't be as much of a radical reinterpretation of the role (though she's hardly obese herself). I have nothing against radical reinterpretations --I wish more Broadway transfers would look into shaking their source material up. BUT if that's their goal (which I seriously doubt, this is Disney we're talking about) the most successful element of the source material should probably be the last item to undergo a radical makeover. And everyone knows that Ursula is where it's at when it comes to The Little Mermaid.
What are they thinking?!?
suggested previous reading: The Little Mermaid --She's Gotta Have It