Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea
Asolo Repertory Theatre
Review by William S. Oser | Season Schedule

Also see Bill's review of The Invisible Hand

Marcel Jeannin, Suzy Jane Hunt, Brendan McMahon,
and Serafín Falcón

Photo Courtesy of Asolo Repertory Theatre
Asolo Repertory Theatre is presenting a touring production of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Craig Francis and Rick Miller, adapted from the novel by Jules Verne. This production was developed in association with the 20K Collective and commissioned for the Toronto 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games arts and culture festival. It has been touring pretty regularly since and has now landed in Sarasota to entertain and inform.

Francis and Miller have done a very free adaptation, using the book as a jumping off point and bringing a quite up to date sensibility to the piece. The narrative delves into sustainability of the ocean's eco systems, and brings a whole set of paradigms that are emphatically 21st century, not just in the narrative, but in the theatrical presentation. The reason for the show is its visual effects, heavy with computer-generated graphics and I suspect it is going to appeal more to young families than experienced theatergoers. There are some terrific effects (the first couple of scenes on board the Nautilus) and some that go awry because Brendan McMahon's (as Jules) hands operating the action figures are too prominent. The producers seem very clear who their target audience is and are doing tie-ins with museums and other youth-oriented groups.

This version of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea relies on four characters to tell the story. Brendan McMahon is Jules, part Jules Verne and our narrator. Suzy Jane Hunt is Professor Aronnax, our heroine, Marcel Jeannin is Ned Land, sort of our villain, and Serafín Falcón is Captain Nemo of the futuristic ship Nautilus where most of the action takes place. The tone of the production is that of an action adventure movie, so its not surprising that the acting is not notable for subtlety.

The direction is by Rick Miller, co-creator, and he is also often found playing Jules. He fills a moderately large stage with big action and special effects. There are many technical people connected with this show and every one makes important contributions to this production.

I recommend this Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea to families with children, especially boys. I suspect that they will be enthralled.

Asolo Repertory Theatre presents Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea through July 1, 2017, at the Mertz Theatre in the FSU Center, 5555 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, Florida. Box Office 941-351-8000. For more information visit

Cast (in order of appearance):
Jules: Brendan McMahon*
Professor Aronnax: Suzy Jane Hunt*
Ned Land: Marcel Jeannin*
Captain Nemo: Serafín Falcón
*=Member of Canadian Actors' Equity Association

Directed by Rick Miller*
Scenic, Prop and Costume Design: Yannik Larivée
Lighting Design: Itai Erdal
Projection Design: Deco Dawson
Composer and Sound Design: Richard Feren
Multimedia Project Manager: Irina Litvinenko
Puppet Design: Shawn Kettner, Marcus Jamin
Stage Manager: Crystal Salverda*
Assistant Stage Manager: Craig Francis*
Executive Producer: Jeff Lord
Assistant Director: Andraea Sartison
Associate Lighting Design: Laura Johnson: Sherratt
Additional Prop Design: Hanna Puley
Production Manager and Technical Director: Peter Eaton
Assistant Production Manager: Rebecca Vandevelde
Assistant Technical Director: Guifre Bant Jes-Rafols

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