“The Little Mermaid Live!” is jumping back in the pool at ABC in November with a new actress playing the role of the beloved singing mermaid.
“Moana” breakout star Auli’i Cravalho has been called under the sea to play Ariel in the live musical event, further diversifying Disney’s casting choices for the beloved role. The Hawaiian singer will be joined by Queen Latifah, who’ll play the villainous sea witch Ursula, and reggae star Shaggy as Ariel’s crabby sidekick Sebastian, ABC Entertainment President Karey Burke announced Monday during the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour.
The “musical reinterpretation,” which was first announced in 2017 but then tabled shortly thereafter, will air on Nov. 5 under ABC’s revived “The Wonderful World of Disney” banner to mark the 30th anniversary of the animated feature film. It’s also ABC’s first — and very belated — entry in the resurgent genre of live-musical TV programming after years of musical events airing on rival networks. So it’s no surprise that it’s diving in with a Disney classic.
The news comes just weeks after Walt Disney Studios announced its casting of R&B star Halle Bailey as Ariel for the studio’s forthcoming live-action reboot and after years of live-show performances of the Hans Christian Andersen-inspired tale. “Glee” star Lea Michele voiced Ariel, who aspires to be part of the human world, in the Hollywood Bowl’s film-concert last summer.
But ABC isn’t really worried about sinking Disney’s splashy rollout for the live-action film because the ABC show is geared for television audiences.