Hello, readers! I hope you’re having a wonderful holiday weekend. Thanksgiving just passed, and I’ve been thinking a lot about what and who I’m grateful for this year. One of the biggest moments I’m grateful for actually just happened: last weekend, I took my first trip to Disney World. It was intense, but boy, was it magical.
There were many highlights from that trip, but the one I’d like to talk about today is Finding Nemo: The Musical. The short one-act musical follows a condensed version of the Disney/Pixar movie of the same name. I was surprised by how touched I was by the show and its music. I’d like to take you on the journey I took when I saw the show. Listen to the cast recording here while reading my thoughts and musings. Also, be sure to let me know what you think by leaving a comment below or sending me a tweet at @OfficialGigi! With that being said, let’s dive in:
NOPE. No. Skip it. Nothing to see here. No heart-shattering exposition about Nemo’s mother happening. I totally wasn’t clutching my heart within the first minutes of this production because of this prologue or anything...ugh. Hold on, let me go grab tissues.
IN THE BIG BLUE WORLD
This song is the inner monologue of every parent and child on their first day of school ever, probably. It perfectly depicts the childlike wonder of a new adventure blended with the parental nervousness of letting go. Since most of the conflict between Nemo and Marlin stems from Marlin’s overprotective tendencies, this number is a great way to introduce that.
THE DROP OFF
This song physically hurts to listen to. Every line hurts in a different way. In the very beginning, when Nemo is feeling pressured to touch the boat, it reminds me how awful peer pressure was growing up. Marlin’s jumping to conclusions and telling his son he can’t swim, before knowing his son was doing the right thing, hurts. It hurts knowing that’s the thing that sets Nemo off to prove himself. Nemo’s “I hate you” and “Daddy, help me!” are so hard to listen to because you know in an instant Nemo doesn’t hate his father; he still needs him around. But nothing hurts as much as Marlin, who’s already lost so much, calling after his only surviving son in a panic, unable to help get him back. Dang it, where are those tissues?
Listening to the cast recording in order, this is a drastic contrast from the song we just heard. Here, we are introduced to the lovingly forgetful Dory as she tries to help Marlin find the boat that took his son. It’s small and cute, much like Dory herself.
SHARKS/FISH ARE FRIENDS NOT FOOD
I was so hoping this line was going to be turned into a musical number and I was not disappointed. The way the song starts off like easy listening but gradually gets more chaotic (especially after Bruce the shark tries to eat Marlin and Dory) is super smart and fun to listen to.
WHERE’S MY DAD?
The first in a series of Dad songs that Nemo sings is the saddest one of them all. Hearing how scared Nemo is in this song made me want to jump on stage at the show and help him find his dad.
THE TANK GANG
The introduction to the fish in the dentist’s office was peeled right from the movie and I loved it!
WE SWIM TOGETHER
Because Finding Nemo: The Musical is so condensed, many scenes had to be cut to keep the running time down. This song serves as exposition for how the fish at the dentist’s office are planning to escape and as a way to show Nemo bonding with his new pals. The song is surprisingly uplifting and moves the story along quite nicely.
DORY AND MARLIN/JUST KEEP SWIMMING
This is the biggest number in the show, and for good reason. We get to see Marlin bicker with Dory but not get very far, because instead of letting him get to her, she tries to cheer him up by telling him to, well, “Just Keep Swimming”. This song takes one of the most iconic lines of the film and merges it with one of the most iconic scenes from the film—when the pair encounters the jellyfish. The line also takes on a different, heavier meaning when Marlin sings “Just Keep Swimming” to Dory after she suffers several jellyfish stings.
NOT MY DAD
The second in the Dad series finds Gill trying to comfort Nemo about escaping by telling him his father is surely out there looking for him, but Nemo has no reason to think his dad is coming to rescue him. It took everything in me not to yell out “he’s coming, Nemo!“ at the theater and when I listened to the song on my couch by myself.
GO WITH THE FLOW
THIS SONG IS SO MUCH FUN. I can already tell this is going to be a song I listen to when I need a pick-me-up. It’s as light and breezy as Crush himself, while still moving the story along and having the important message of being able to loosen up once in a while.
GOSSIP/THAT’S MY DAD
The conclusion of the Dad series comes after rumors spread of Marlin’s bravery just to find his son. Hearing all the stories from Nigel, Nemo is so proud his dad overcame his fears to try to save him. This pair of songs really shows how far both Nemo and Marlin have come from the beginning of their story, and it puts a smile on my face just thinking about it.
DARLA!/SEWAGE TREATMENT PLANT
Okay, so I’ve seen Finding Nemo. I know the story, I know how it ends. Even so, I was on the edge of my seat watching Darla capture Nemo and his escape back into the ocean. I breathed a sigh of relief when he and Marlin were reunited.
WE SWIM TOGETHER (REPRISE)
This song is the embodiment of the journey Nemo and Marlin took during this story. When Marlin lets Nemo go because he finally learns to believe in him, it pulled at my heartstrings. But nothing prepared me for “That’s my dad!/That’s my son!” Seeing and hearing the two of them finally come together made me want to call my parents and tell them I love them.
FINALE-THE BIG BLUE WORLD (REPRISE)
You can’t listen to this finale and not smile. It’s such a happy ending, and we could all use those. Seeing how far these characters travelled and having them all come together “in the big blue world” to “just keep swimming” is the best way to end this show.
If you get a chance to visit Disney World, I highly recommend checking out Finding Nemo. And if not, rewatch the movie! (Photo from the Walt Disney World website)