Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Ursula: Fat Free!


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

13 comments:

Jaydawg2089 said...

Perhaps the actress playing Ursula will also play Vanessa, who is a twig of a stick. Right now it sounds like Little Mermaid could go either way: hit or miss. That's critically. It'll sell out pretty much it's entire first year I bet.

J.J. said...

Most recently saw Skinner in the Kennedy Center's production of Mame last year. She was the best thing about it -- mousey and kept for the first bit, then revealing lusty comic chops (and a good deal of delicious, zaftigious skin). She would've been ideal for Ursula.

adam k. said...

Yes, maddening indeed. Scott is too trim to play Ursula (maybe they'll put her in a fat suit? shudders). I'm sorry, but the whole point of Ursula is that she's a fat hag with a man-voice. Otherwise, why would she be so jealous of Ariel???

This is like if they'd cast Beyoncé as Effie White (like she kept saying she wanted, except for the "getting fat" part). Totally wrong and obviously stupid. The only defensible explanation if, as jaydawg suggests, they plan to have Scott play both Ursula and Vanessa. But it still seems like a bad idea. They should just have two different actresses.

I say we alert Jennifer Hudson to this injustice and have her publicly bash the idea.

Paxton Hernandez said...

Dearest Nathe,

When are you finishing your movie break?

Are we gonna see 2007 movies posts in your blog? Ever?

Best Regards,
your careful reader.

NATHANIEL R said...

I'm never seeing a movie again.


KIDDING.

sorry. kinda swamped.

more new stuff soon. lotsa plans for APRIL.

Edward Copeland said...

That is sad but what disturbs me more is the news that Sacha Baron Cohen was having trouble with Sondheim's lyrics in Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd so Burton said it is OK for him to do it "rap style." I just know this is going to be an utter disaster.

Paxton Hernandez said...

I'll second that. A major bomb, major flop, major turkey! Poor Burton!

Anonymous said...

The fact is that a 1hr lenght movie does not just transfer over to a broadway musical. It makes sense to me, that the decision for a slimmer Ursula was done to allow deeper character development and to create more tension between her and Ariel. (Make sense Adam K.? there is no real dramatic tension or jealousy with a straight out fat Ursula, and this creates it) Also, lets not assume that she is skinny for the entire show and that to portray her developing into a larger character would not be untenable at all.

16 year old blogger said...

Ugh...Ugh...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQMiyXYowEc

That's a video with Emily Skinner from a recording session for the Little MERMAID....UGH OH!

Anonymous said...

glad they replaced her...

Anonymous said...

That's ugh...I don't even know what to say....

Felix said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Felix said...

i still think this doesn't even come close to the travesty of Stephanie J. Block getting the ole' heave ho' for Idina Menzel, that pitchy monster, in Wicked. And I'm sure their reasoning was b/c Idina's a **Star**. And I'm sure that was their reasoning here as well.. but it's so much more catty to think it's because Scott's thinner.. am I right?

and Adam, let's not compare Ursula to one of the most iconic roles in the history of broadway.. it just doesn't work that way - we've yet to even have the Ursula standard for Broadway, and isn't Ursula suppose to be this vivacious thing when she comes up to the surface to woo Eric? Should they have cast two females? Or just given Skinner one helluva corset? I kinda agree with the guy a few comments up - Ursula needs to be in the same ball park as Ariel for dramatic tension, both for storyline and the audience's sake. Would Eric really have to think twice if Ursula wasn't as much of a PYT as Ariel? Methinks no.