‘The Little Mermaid Live!’ was a nostalgic night of pure Disney magic 

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In celebration of the 30th anniversary of the classic fairy tale film, Disney’s ABC presented “The Little Mermaid Live!” in front of a live audience of adoring Ariel fans, as well as the thousands of viewers across America reliving their childhood memories. Unlike the live musicals of NBC and Fox, some good, others not so much, this production was a mixture of both a live show and the original movie, with songs being sung by the star-studded cast and the rest of the story being told by the animated movie. 

While this division may seem a little fishy to any fan of television’s take on Broadway musicals, this actually makes a lot of sense. The whole point of the special was to honor the success of the 1989 movie that has swum into the heart of every Disney fan, rather than remind everyone of the Broadway flop that lasted less than two years in New York City.  

This tribute was a perfect celebration of the feature film, even including an introduction by Jodi Benson, the woman who originally voiced Ariel, and made “Part of Your World,” an instant classic. The evening combined both the scenes and jokes we all know and love from the movie, with a new exciting live experience from some of Hollywood’s finest. 

I could go on talking about how impressive the live sets were, how stunning the costumes were or even how the show involved the audience in its storytelling, but it’s Disney. Would we really expect anything less? The most impressive part of the show was the talent of its incredible cast. It is no surprise that this was the event’s highlight, especially considering the huge marketing emphasis ABC placed on its well-known cast. 

Known for voicing Disney’s latest princess, Moana, 18-year-old Auli’i Cravalho led the cast as the famed and finned heroine, Ariel. She portrayed the iconic role with the same innocence and spirit that we remember, not to mention her stunning vocals in the classic ballads. Her Prince Eric, played by Graham Phillips, also impressed audiences with his sweet and melodic voice, nailing the opening number, “Fathoms Below,” as well as two little known songs, “Her Voice” and “If Only,” which were taken from the Broadway musical version of the show. Alongside the leads, Amber Riley sang her heart out as King Triton’s daughter, The Emcee, while Queen Latifah graced us with her presence in a 150-foot tall Ursula costume. These performances, combined with John Stamos’ playful depiction of Chef Louis, were the perfect recipe for a magical evening. 

While the event was not a groundbreaking or earth-shattering reimagining of the story, the television movie was a nostalgic reminder of why we first fell in love with Ariel, Eric, Sebastian and Flounder, 30 years ago. Yes, this could all just be a big advertisement for the launch of Disney Plus next week, but ultimately it made every viewer feel like a little kid again, and brought them into a world of magic, true love and singing fish.  

Rating: 4/5 stars 


Gino Giansanti is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at gino.giansanti_jr@uconn.edu.

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