Kelowna Actors Studio

Rebecca Thackray in the title role as “The Little Mermaid” is shown in a flying sequence. Kelowna Actors Studio is presenting the Disney musical through Aug. 10.

The summer blockbuster has arrived.

“The Little Mermaid — The Broadway Musical” made much more than a little splash at Kelowna Community Theatre on opening night Thursday. It was a tidal wave of Titanic proportions.

It is the biggest production — and the most expensive at more than $200,000 — in the 17-year history of Kelowna Actors Studio and it shows, in spades.

One hates to gush but this one deserves gushing. And a lot of it.

Real Broadway came to Kelowna, again, thanks to this high-quality theatre company established in May 2003 with one unwavering focus — to produce vibrant, exciting presentations of the world's best-loved Broadway productions.

Tickets for Theh Little Mermaid which runs through Aug. 10 are available at Kelowna Tickets, 250-862-2867; online at KelownaActorsStudio.com; or at the WorkRoom, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday, at 100-2600 Enterprise Way, Kelowna.

Timing is everything, and artistic managing director Randy Leslie and executive producer Nathan Flavel couldn't have timed this better. Live-action remakes of Disney classics are all the rage; it is the 30th anniversary of the 1989 Disney animated movie adaptation of the classic Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale; and the Walt Disney Company is in early development for a live-action adaptation of the original film scheduled to begin production in early 2020.

The Kelowna extravaganza had the opening night crowd of 600 smiling from the Broadway-like notes of the introductory music. Then heartthrob Victoria-based actress Rebecca Thackray floats onto a stage on roller-runners reminiscent of the animated version with a high, but absolutely clear voice that instantly makes you fall in love with the mermaid heroine Ariel.

The cheers only got louder when rollicking sailors and Prince Eric sail their two-dimensional ship into the scene. Princely Zander Felton makes the ladies in the audience swoon with a reasonating voice that made it clear he would be the perfect counterpoint to Thackray.

What brought the house down though was Hannah deJob (stage name for Flavel) as Ursula, the deliciously evil sea witch sporting an incredible octopus costume. It’s impossible to imagine anyone else in this huge ensemble cast more perfect for the role modelled after drag performer Divine.

The same is true of Desmond Parenteau as King Triton with his six-pack abs; Victor De Feo as the seagull Scuttle who does a credible Jar Jar Binks from Star Wars at one point and leads a nine-seagull tap-dancing routine; Caden Hergott as the youthful Flounder; Emma White as the phrenetic Chef; and Vancouver actor Justin LapeÒa as crustaceous Sebastian, the anxious advisor to the king. Ariel’s six older sisters are a hoot in their group numbers.

The special effects are gasp-worthy — from flying/swimming through the sea to glowing triton to the lighting adorning Ursula’s flexible-plus Flotsam and Jetsam (Timothy Harder and Ashley Aremour).

Among the numerous highlights, things to watch for and listen to: an off-season performance by Ballet Kelowna senior artist Kurt Werner, and music from Star Wars and Game of Thrones.

Mermaid will have everyone from pre-schoolers to grandparents laughing, cheering and jumping to their feet with a sustaioned standing ovation.

The plot involves Ariel (like Pinnochio) dreaming of becoming human, falling in loven with a human prince, entering into a “squid pro quo” contract with the wicked witch and of course, marrying the prince. After all this is Disney, the home of happy endings.

Rating: 10 stars (double the usual five-star top rating).