The Little Mermaid is becoming an ABC live television event. The network’s revival of the classic television branding of The Wonderful World of Disney will manifest with a hybrid TV special called The Wonderful World of Disney: The Little Mermaid Live!, mixing the iconic under-the-sea animation of the 1989 Disney movie with a live-airing musical component, just in time for the animated classic’s 30th anniversary.
The special – initially planned back in May 2017, with designs to air live that October – is now officially back on schedule after being on the shelf for two years to, as the network statement claimed, “give it all the attention it deserves.” Of course, the news arrives during a time in which Disney’s live-action movie adaptation of The Little Mermaid is on the horizon, with Halle Bailey set to star as Ariel.
Indeed, The Wonderful World of Disney: The Little Mermaid Live! ball is finally rolling, with ABC’s official announcement of its cast and the confirmation of the special’s November 5 air date.
Auli’i Cravalho will star as Ariel. The casting is a Disney reunion of sorts, since Cravalho is best known for voicing the starring role on Disney’s 2016 animated feature, Moana – a role she briefly reprised in last year’s Ralph Breaks the Internet. She’s also been seen onscreen as the former star of NBC’s short-lived musical drama, Rise.
She will be joined by a co-star in rapper/actress/producer Queen Latifah, who will play the evil Ursula. Additionally, famous reggae singer Shaggy will play Ariel’s faithful crustacean sidekick, Sebastian. Additional cast announcements will be made.
ABC also released a sneak preview of the set, via GMA.
While ABC was initially short on specifics regarding how the animation of 1989’s The Little Mermaid will integrate (or, as they put it, “intertwine,”) with live music for The Wonderful World of Disney: The Little Mermaid Live!, the network touted a yet-to-be-revealed lineup of “celebrity artists” to occupy Disney’s dais for the television event (evidenced by the casting of Queen Latifah and Shaggy). Undoubtedly, the dual-Oscar-winning signature song of the 1989 movie in Alan Menken and Howard Ashman’s “Under the Sea” will be performed prominently, as will their Oscar-nominated song “Kiss the Girl.” The special is sticking to its 2017-announced configuration, to be produced by Done + Dusted, with attached executive producers Hamish Hamilton, Ian Stewart, David Jammy, Katy Mullan and Richard Kraft. As the latest press release explains:
“This never-before-seen hybrid format will feature beautifully intricate sets and costumes, with music from the original animated film and the Tony Award®-winning Broadway stage version, originally composed by eight-time Oscar®-winning composer, Alan Menken. Howard Ashman’s iconic film lyrics will also be showcased, while lyricist for the Broadway adaptation, Glenn Slater, will contribute to the star-studded spectacular.”
In a tangential angle to this story, the idea of ABC and its Disney corporate parent reviving its The Wonderful World of Disney branding should hit some nice nostalgia spots for a wide range of generations, since the ABC program started way back in 1954, subsequently evolving into a Sunday primetime showcase for Disney TV movies, series pilots and as a small screen showcase for the Mouse’s theatrically-released films; a platform on which many first experienced the classics. The series ended its run in 1990.
The Wonderful World of Disney: The Little Mermaid Live! will air Tuesday, November 5, from 8-10 p.m. EST, live on ABC.
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