The Little Mermaid in Concert with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra – Live Review

When it comes to symphonies, the first conductor and symphony orchestra I was ever exposed to was Sebastian the Crab and his sea creature symphony during the gala at the beginning of the film, where Ariel fails to show up to perform because she’s too busy going to the surface and searching through human shipwrecks for ‘thingamabobs’.

Cut to 2019, Disney’s The Little Mermaid is now celebrating its 30th anniversary and the wonderful folk at Melbourne Symphony Orchestra are helping fans celebrate by holding not one, not two, but three concerts at Art Centre Melbourne’s Hamer Hall.

The Little Mermaid means so much to me personally. It was my first ever film experience in a cinema as a kid, my first Disney film, and is the reason why I love movies, Disney films, animated feature films, symphony orchestra concerts and musicals.

As a child, I loved the fantasy element of how Ariel is a mermaid, but even though a mermaid, Ariel (voiced by Disney Legend, Jodi Benson) is extremely likable and relatable; she loves singing, she’s a nerd who loves collecting things (and has a massive trinket collection to prove it), and she longs to leave home to travel and explore the world. She also has impeccable taste, pining over Prince Eric who is an excellent human, risking his life to save his beloved doggo, Max. So, when Ariel sets out on a mission to visit the human world and connect with her prince, we can’t help but cheer her on.

Disney’s The Little Mermaid also taught me about discrimination. When King Triton tells Ariel that she is forbidden to go to the shore, he has a prejudice against humanity and claims that they are all the same and all awful. It is Ariel that has the initiative to not accept this taught hate, choosing to make up her own mind on how she feels about humans by encountering them for herself.

There is a common misconception with Disney films as of late (many based on fairy tales), that a girl doesn’t necessarily need a guy, which is addressed in the animated film, Frozen. But this is not what Ariel is all about. Ariel is clearly a strong independent woman; she’s always off on adventures on her own, she is happier in her own company than with the people in her father’s kingdom (only ever accompanied by her fish friend Flounder and Sebastian the Crab who is more so her reluctant guardian) and let’s not forget, she single-handedly saved Prince Eric’s life. But Ariel is the best version of herself when she is with Eric (even with the stolen pipes), and 30 years after its debut, The Little Mermaid is still a wonderful story to watch.

In the original classic Hans Christian Andersen tale, the Danish author wrote The Little Mermaid as a tragic romantic fantasy, where the mermaid sacrifices her voice, gains legs, but fails to have the prince love her and dies. It was actually Disney that finally gave the mermaid her happy ending, which she so deserved.

With incredible songs; “Part of Your World”, “Kiss the Girl”, “Poor Unfortunate Souls” and “Under the Sea”, created by Disney Legend, Alan Menken with the late great Howard Ashman, plus an Academy Award winning score, it’s hard not to enjoy Disney’s The Little Mermaid. I have seen The Little Mermaid a countless amount of times since my childhood, but witnessing it live with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra is a special, wonderful experience. Conducted by the multi-talented and charismatic Nicholas Buc, this incredible concert is not one to be missed.

Now a staple to Melbourne Symphony Orchestra film concerts, there is a pre-show talk by the team of ‘Art of the Score’ consisting of Andrew Pogson, Dr Dan Golding and Conductor Nicholas Buc. The three enthusiastically bounce off each other and have incredible chemistry on-stage while discussing the film’s compositions. I attended the pre-show talk on Friday night before the show and I thoroughly enjoyed it so much, I wished the talk was longer.

To help enhance your Little Mermaid MSO film-concert experience, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra also have organised two Social Exposure Australia booths at the venue where you can take special Little Mermaid themed photos with you loved one. This is the first time the MSO have had two booths, both with different backdrops. So, if you want to take different photos, you may need to visit both of them. If you’re looking for the photobooths, one is available at the main entrance, the other is downstairs on the same level as Stalls. I have grown to love these photobooths at the MSO film concerts because it helps make the experience more fun, with a memento that you can take home with you and cherish long after the concert is over.

There is a reason The Little Mermaid has stood the test of time for the past 30 years and will do so for 30 more. It single-handedly pioneered the Disney Renaissance era. It is also a beautiful love story (with iconic music) that highlights prejudice, dreams, family, acceptance and freedom. I feel very blessed to have grown up with The Little Mermaid, and for me, everything has come full circle by witnessing it performed live with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Attending this concert was one of the best experiences of my life. I was moved to tears. And the best part is, there are two more concerts left, so I’m going again before it leaves.

Honestly, this city, we are so lucky to have the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Thank-you MSO for bringing this wonderful concert to Melbourne. As a massive Little Mermaid fan, I’m so grateful. This is one concert experience I will never forget.

The Little Mermaid in Concert with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra is playing at Art Centre Melbourne’s Hamer Hall on Friday the 6th of September at 7:30pm and on Saturday the 7th of September for two sessions at 1pm and 7:30pm.
To be part of Ariel’s world, visit

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