The classic animated Little Mermaid movie was released in theaters in November 1989, and we're getting multiple projects in honor of the 30th anniversary. This is the one with John Stamos laying it on thick with the French cheese. He's part of the cast of The Wonderful World of Disney: The Little Mermaid Live!, which will air live November 5 on ABC.
This live musical should not be confused with the live-action Little Mermaid movie that was still looking for a Prince Eric last time we checked, after Harry Styles passed. This ABC live musical has a Prince Eric, in addition to a beloved Disney star as Ariel and a perfect diva as Ursula. Plus, Shaggy? I'm down!
ABC showed off the cast as their characters in a little preview video. We see Moana star Auli’i Cravalho as Ariel, Queen Latifah as Ursula, Shaggy as Sebastian, The Good Wife alum Graham Phillips as Prince Eric, and Full House alum John Stamos as Chef Louis.
Auli’i Cravalho looks like a beautiful Ariel. But have mercy on the poisson, Louis! You remember his song, right?
John Stamos is reprising his role as Chef Louis after his performance in the Hollywood Bowl production of The Little Mermaid. ABC's The Little Mermaid Live! is going for a never-before-seen hybrid format -- live musical performances by the cast will be interwoven into the broadcast of the original feature film.
The live musical event will feature intricate sets and costumes by Emmy Award-winning designer Zaldy, with music from the original animated film and the Tony Award-nominated Broadway stage version. Here's a look at the set:
Director Hamish Hamilton called the half-live musical/half-original animated movie an "interesting hybrid." He also said during the TCA press tour (via Deadline) that fans are invited to the Little Mermaid theater on the Disney lot where the 1989 movie will be projected.
The Little Mermaid Live! is a celebration. We’re celebrating this incredible animated feature, and we’re gonna do it on the Disney lot. We’re going to do it live-to-air in front of a live audience in a room that we’ve created. So we’re going to invite anybody to come, both televisionally and real people, real fans, come to our Little Mermaid theater. In the middle of the room, we will have a giant projection surface, and on that projection surface we will play the feature. When we get to one of Alan [Merken] and Howard [Ashman’s wonderful songs, essentially we will transition beautifully and smoothly into a world of live performance.
Here's an interesting note: Hamish Hamilton said they don't have understudies for The Little Mermaid Live! So you never know if we'll get a repeat of the live version of Rent, which also didn't have understudies and was mostly not "live" after a star's major injury during rehearsals.
We don’t have understudies, but we have a robust plan to, kind of, combat all of those kinds of situations, to be honest with you.
Shaggy noted, during the TCAs, that this is his second time with The Little Mermaid since he recorded a rap version of "Under the Sea" back in 1996.
I have three daughters and I had to sit down there and watch this movie, the original movie, over and over and over and over and over and over again. I feel like Sebastian is me because after a while, you are watching it and your girls are there, and because they are reciting every line to it, you’ve got to join in at some point because that’s the only way you are getting points as a dad.
ABC's preview shows Auli’i Cravalho wearing a red wig, to match the Ariel fans are used to seeing from the animated movie. She spoke at the TCAs about her love for the character:
I think there is just so much room to play with that while, of course, still paying homage to the original character. That’s me anyway. And, of course, there’s so many beautiful set designs and so much of, really, a visual buffet that I am part of this, but there’s also just so much more that I know people will enjoy that I won’t have to worry too, too much about what I bring to the character because I bring myself, and I feel like that’s enough.
The Little Mermaid Live! airs Tuesday, November 5 from 8 to 10 p.m. on ABC. Don't forget that the new streaming service Disney+ is launching the very next week on November 12, and I'm sure that will be mentioned during the live broadcast.