This year is the thirtieth anniversary of something that began a wonderful period of animated movie masterpieces. That period we are talking about is the Disney Renaissance, when the iconic studios animated films were once again not only audio-visual experiences but also box-office blockbusters and award magnets. The Renaissance is said to have been sparked by Disney’s 1989 animated “canon” entry, “The Little Mermaid” which premiered in November of that year. As expected. Disney is already working on a live-action adaptation for the big screen. What was not so expected was the announcement of a live musical version airing on ABC, of which the first trailer was released this week.
CNN tells us that it is all systems go for “The Little Mermaid Live!” a live musical presentation of the Renaissance-Disney classic that will be aired next month on ABC. It will be the latest presentation to be shown in the long-running “Wonderful World of Disney” TV special anthology in the network. For some fans, it is a more palatable version of the original animation compared to what is known about the still far-off live-action take on things by Rob Marshall.; though with a non-Caucasian lead star that distinction is not by much at all.
The teaser shows up close the known primary cast of “The Little Mermaid Live!” all made up in their character costumes. First seen is Auli’l Cravalho. Already famous as the voice of “Moana,” she now takes on another Disney Princess role as Ariel, in the flesh this time. Next is the mermaid’s antagonist, Ursula the Sea Witch as played by Queen Latifah who brings authority to her looks. The big surprise is Shaggy, who forgoes any realistic crab costume as Sebastian in lieu of a red jacket and shades in a gloriously anachronistic ensemble, while Cravalho’s rendition of Ariel’s solo aria plays in the background.
ABC’s teaser of “The Little Mermaid Live!” also gives the first look at other principal members of the cast. Graham Phillips will play Prince Eric to Cravalho’s little mermaid, while John Stamos is Chef Louis, the head cook of Eric’s royal household that has a particular inter-character conflict with Sebastian. A network description describes the musical as a hybrid presentation, where live performances by the cast play out simultaneously with footage from the 1989 film in synchronicity, featuring music from both movie and the Broadway adaptation, composed by Alan Menken.
Viewers can tune into to “The Little Mermaid Live!” on “The Wonderful World of Disney” this coming November 5 on ABC. The live-action movie meanwhile will start filming early 2020, with Halle Bailey as Ariel, along with Melissa McCarthy, Jacob Tremblay and Awkwafina. No Prince Eric has been cast yet.
Image courtesy of Metro UK