'The Little Mermaid' Will Be ABC's First Live Musical & Ariel Has Already Been Cast


Before Ariel becomes part of the Disney live-action movie world, her story will make a splash on ABC as the network's next live musical special. And bonus: ABC has already revealed some of the superstars who will be leading the upcoming production. So, now that fans know The Little Mermaid will be a live musical on ABC, per Variety, let's get into what viewers can expect from the special that's sure to make waves, including when it is slated to air.

ABC announced the upcoming live musical special of The Little Mermaid during its Television Critics Association press tour panel on Monday, Aug. 5. This marks ABC's first foray into the increasingly popular phenomenon of live musical broadcasts. Both NBC and Fox have become known for producing these live musical specials over the past several years. NBC has delivered The Sound of Music Live!, Peter Pan Live!, The Wiz Live!, Hairspray Live!, and Jesus Christ Superstar: Live in Concert, while Fox has put on Grease: Live, A Christmas Story Live!, and Rent: Live. The closest ABC has come to adopting this format prior to the Little Mermaid announcement was when the network aired its Dirty Dancing remake in 2017, but that was not a live event.

ABC is rounding up some big names for its first-ever live musical special. The network revealed singer and actress Auli’i Cravalho, who voiced the lead character in 2016's Moana, will be playing Ariel in the live television event. Joining her will be Queen Latifah as the villainous sea witch Ursula and Shaggy as the dependable crab sidekick Sebastian. No other cast members have been announced just yet, so fans will have to wait to see who joins the special as Prince Eric, Flounder, King Triton, and the rest of the cast.

Amy Sussman/Getty Images

Reportedly, the live special will be something of a hybrid between the 1989 Disney animated film and the Tony-winning Broadway musical, as the cast will perform songs from both shows. And even more exciting: The production will be airing in just three months. ABC announced The Little Mermaid Live! will air on Nov. 5, which is before Disney's live-action movie adaptation is even set to begin production.

The musical special should serve as an excellent primer for the buzzed-about live-action movie remake of The Little Mermaid Disney is currently working on. R&B star Halle Bailey is set to portray Ariel in the upcoming film adaptation, with Melissa McCarthy, Jacob Tremblay, and Awkwafina reportedly in talks to play Ursula, Flounder, and Scuttle, respectively. Other casting reports say Harry Styles is in talks to play Prince Eric, and Javier Bardem is in talks to play King Triton. Much of the casting for the adaptation still has yet to be officially confirmed, and the remake is scheduled to begin production in early 2020. Disney has yet to announce a release date for the movie.

So, while Disney fans wait around for the new Little Mermaid movie, they can now look forward to this live musical interpretation that is happening much sooner. The Little Mermaid Live! is slated to air on ABC on Nov. 5 at 8 p.m. ET.