‘Little Mermaid’ Live Musical Event Set at ABC Starring Auli’i Cravalho

TCA 2019: And “there will be puppetry — yes, puppetry,” ABC President Karey Burke promises critics

auli'i cravalho
Getty Images

“The Little Mermaid” is swimming back to ABC for a live musical event special, the network announced Monday at the Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour.

In honor of the 30th anniversary of the original 1989 Disney movie, the production is set to air live in front of a studio audience on November 5. “Moana” star Auli’i Cravalho will play Ariel, actress and R&B artist Queen Latifah will play Ursula, and Grammy-winning musician Shaggy will play Sebastian. Additional cast will be announced at a later date.

The production was originally scheduled to air in October of 2017, but was postponed by ABC before it announced a cast. The network’s decision to bring it back comes as Disney is preparing to start production on its own live-action remake film starring Halle Bailey as Ariel.

The production will feature intricate sets and costumes, plus “puppetry — yes, puppetry,” ABC president Karey Burke said. It will be set to music from the original animated film and the Broadway stage version, originally composed by Alan Menken. Howard Ashman’s lyrics from the film will also be showcased, along with contributions from the lyricist for the Broadway adaptation, Glenn Slater.

Hamish Hamilton will direct and executive produce. “The Wonderful World of Disney presents The Little Mermaid Live!” is produced by Hamilton’s Done+Dusted, with other executive producers including Katy Mullan, David Jammy, Raj Kapoor and Ian Stewart. Also executive producing is Richard Kraft, producer and director of the acclaimed Hollywood Bowl productions of “The Little Mermaid” and “Beauty and the Beast.”