Auli’i Cravalho is heading under the sea…
The 18-year-old part-Puerto Rican actress/singer is set to star as Ariel in ABC’s The Little Mermaid live special.
In addition to Cravalho, who rose to acclaim as the voice of the title character in Disney’s Moana, the special will also star Queen Latifah as Ursula and Shaggy as Sebastian.
The Wonderful World of Disney Presents The Little Mermaid Live!, featuring a mix of live action, animation and puppetry, will air on November 5 to mark the classic Disney animated feature’s 30th anniversary.
ABC originally announced in May 2017that it would stage a live production of the beloved underwater tale under the long-dormant Wonderful World of Disneybanner, which was slated for October 3, 2017. In August of that year, the network announced that the live event had been put on hold.
Since joining ABC last December as President of Entertainment, Karey Burke has expressed strong support for live specials. Her commitment was likely reaffirmed in May after the success of Jimmy Kimmel’s live staging of two classic Norman Lear sitcoms on the network, which spawned two more installments.
Burke today said that if The Little Mermaid is a success, it too can lead to do more live musicals based on Disneyfilm titles on ABC. “If it works, I expect we will do more of them and we will work closely with the feature department about timing,” she said.
Billed as a tribute to the original animated classic and its music, The Wonderful World of Disney Presents The Little Mermaid Live! will feature live musical performances by its star-studded cast interwoven into the broadcast of the original feature film.
The hybrid format will combine intricate sets and costumes created for the special with music from the original animated film and the Tony Award-winningBroadway stage version, composed by eight-time Oscar-winner Alan Menken.
Howard Ashman’s film lyrics will also be showcased, with Glenn Slater, lyricist for the Broadway adaptation, as a contributor.
Cravalho is already in the extended Disney Princessesfamily having voiced Moana in the hit animated movie.
Following her breakout role in Moana, Cravalho performed the film’s anthem, How Far I’ll Go, at the Oscarsand starred in the NBCmusical drama series Rise. It was just announced that she is the lead of the Brett Haley Netflixfilm Sorta Like a Rock Star.
The announcement of The Wonderful World of Disney Presents The Little Mermaid Live! going forward comes as Disney is gearing up for production of a live-action feature adaptation of The Little Mermaid for director Rob Marshall, Hamilton‘s Lin-Manuel Miranda and Menken. Halle Bailey has been set as Ariel in the movie, Awkwafina as Ariel’s seagull friend Scuttle, and Jacob Tremblay as Ariel’s friendly fish pal Flounder, while Melissa McCarthy has been rumored for the role of UIrsula and Harry Stylesfor Prince Eric.
Burke is not worried about ABC’s live Little Mermaid special and the upcoming movie cannibalizing each other. “Ours is distinctly different from the feature film,” she said.