If you're a big Disney fan, you almost definitely have seen The Little Mermaid numerous times. It's a true classic that's filled with memorable songs, and even more memorable characters. But even the most dedicated fans won't recognize one role in ABC's live broadcast of The Little Mermaid. That's because Amber Riley plays a brand-new character in The Little Mermaid Live, and she's bringing lots of dramatic flair to the stage.
Riley is diving under the sea in The Little Mermaid Live to play a new character known as The Emcee. Fans of the original animated movie will remember that it begins with a choral concert put on by Triton's daughters. Riley's character of the Emcee introduces all the daughters, although Ariel is notably missing because she's too busy exploring shipwrecks to make it to the show. But there's a comedic twist; as Riley told TV Guide: "The Emcee has this grand entrance, and it's really supposed to be about them, but she makes it a little bit about herself."
Riley is an actor and vocalist known especially for her stellar singing voice, and luckily The Emcee gives her the opportunity to showcase her talents. "She's kind of like this opera diva but she also has kind of an R&B voice," Riley explained.
Riley is no stranger to live, televised musicals. In 2015, she starred in NBC's The Wiz Live as Addaperle. Before that, she rose to fame as Mercedes on Glee, which premiered in 2009 and featured Riley singing everything from pop hits to classic show tunes. She also starred in Little Shop of Horrors in Los Angeles and in Dreamgirls on London's West End. All that said, Riley has yet to make her big Broadway debut, though it has a big dream of hers.
"I want to do Broadway, for sure," she told Playbill. "That's always been on my bucket list. That's always been something that I've wanted to do." Riley may not have made it to Broadway yet, but she and her killer pipes have certainly made it under the sea for The Little Mermaid Live.
Even though Riley is only in The Little Mermaid Live for a small portion of it, she is clearly excited about the experience. She posted a super-enthusiastic Instagram ahead of the live broadcast, saying:
The Little Mermaid Live tonight on ABC 🙌🏾 make sure you tune! I watched the dress rehearsal and it’s INCREDIBLE!!!!!!!! You don’t want to miss this 🙌🏾.
The Little Mermaid Live is airing on Tuesday, Nov. 5, at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.