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Finding Nemo - the Musical
Finding Nemo - The Musical is the latest in the line of Disney movies abbreviated for the stage at a Disney park. It joins such successful shows as Beauty and the Beast (Hollywood Studios), Aladdin (California Adventure, but sadly scheduled to close in 2010), Snow White (formerly at Disneyland), and The Lion King (Disneyland Paris). The two things that set this show apart are that this is the first Pixar movie that Disney has adapted, and it is also the first non-musical to appear on the stage in the parks. As the title suggests, music was added for this presentation, including a theme song that has also found its way into the main attraction at The Seas with Nemo and Friends in Epcot.
Most of the actors control puppets that represent the characters they portray, but make no attempt to hide. At several points in the show, the cast comes out onto a runway cutting through the orchestra section, making the audience feel like they are fully immersed in the story. This reaching out really helps to get guests into the fantasy of the underwater show.
This building (or at least this site) was formerly home to the popular Tarzan Rocks! show, and before that, Journey into the Jungle Book.
Finding Nemo - The Musical is a high-energy, crowd-pleasing show that will delight audiences of all ages, even those who have not seen the movie. Anyone who has seen Legend of the Lion King in Disneyland Paris, or The Lion King on or off Broadway, will have an easy time adjusting to the combination of actors and props that represent the characters. Those who have not will still find themselves switching easily between puppet and person, paying attention now to the swimming fish, now to the facial expressions of the very well-prepared cast. The editing necessary to cut a 90-minute movie down to a 45-minute stage show is wonderfully done without removing any essential plot elements or leaving the audience groping (compare that to the narration during Beauty and the Beast when Belle is miraculously transported to the Beast's castle).
This is one not to miss.
(Note: this walk-through assumes you have seen the movie Finding Nemo, and so does not try to develop the plot or describe the characters in detail).
The show opens as the movie does, with Marlin and Coral enjoying their new anemone home, until a barracuda brings tragedy to the family. Marlin is left to care for his one surviving child, Nemo.
The next scene is Nemo's first day of school, and he and Marlin sing the first song, "In the Big, Blue World." Mr. Ray, the teacher, takes Nemo and the class to the drop-off; when Marlin hears this, he has to go and fetch his son.
Nemo, trying to show his courage, gets captured by a diver. In searching for him, Marlin meets Dory, a forgetful tang who trys to help, but at first only succeeds in leading Marlin into a meeting of "Sharks Anonymous." Bruce and his pals, Chum and Anchor, sing "Fish are Friends," but Marlin is distracted when the diver's mask floats down. Dory is bumped and starts to bleed, which sends Bruce into a frenzy (and a reprise), but our heroes manage to escape.
The scene shifts to the diver's dentist office, where Nemo finds himself in an aquarium. He meets the other captives, including Gill, who initiates Nemo into their gang (another song) and starts plotting a way to escape the tank.
Marlin and Dory are still searching. Dory sings a song ("Just Keep Swimming"), and Marlin joins in trying to get her to read the address off the diver's mask. They meet a school of grouper, who direct them towards Sydney, but they lose their way and end up in a school of jellyfish. Both of them seem to succumb to the stinging tentacles.
The scene shifts back to the dentist's tank, where Nemo laments that his dad isn't brave enough to come find him. As the stage goes dark, and the mood seems to deepen, Crush and the other sea turtles appear, with Marlin and Dory safe, and a very Beach Boys song (what else?) about the EAC follows. Meanwhile, the story of Marlin's search is spreading through the ocean, finally reaching Nigel the pelican, who tells Nemo about his dad's quest. Nemo sings a song of pride, but is caught in the dentist's net just as Marlin and Dory arrive.
The second somber moment only lasts as long as it takes for Nemo, who has been playing dead, to meet back up with his dad after being flushed. Nemo then saves Dory from a grouper net, and the three of them go home.
The finale includes a reprise of "In the Big Blue World" and a happy tidying up of loose ends. Marlin trusts Nemo, Nemo loves Marlin, and Dory stays with the family
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