ABC's upcoming 'The Little Mermaid Live!' will feature Queen Latifah as the evil sea-witch Ursula, and Shaggy has been roped in to play Sebastian.
Get ready for an "under-the-sea" hybrid version of the Disney classic The Little Mermaid. What can Disney fans expect from ABC's The Little Mermaid Live? A cross between the original animated film from 1989 and the Tony award-winning Broadway stage version. With intricate sets and costumes, the upcoming Wonderful World of Disney production will star Moana's Auli'i Cravalho as Ariel, Queen Latifah as Ursula and Shaggy as Sebastian.
Both stars have expressed on their social media accounts as to how excited they are to be a part of the production. Queen Latifah seems excited about her role as the sea-witch Ursula who lures Ariel into trouble. The rapper and actress took to social media posting her look as the purple-skinned white-haired Ursula.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, director and executive producer Hamish Hamilton explained his vision for the November 5 special as an "interesting hybrid" between the original 1989 animated film and live performances of the musical numbers.
But don't get this confused with the live-action film that will star Halle Bailey as Ariel. The feature film received a lot of backlash with a hashtag trending called #notmyariel. Fans were upset that the otherwise fair-skinned, red-haired mermaid was being played by an African- American.
On Monday, Hamilton at a panel at the Television Critics Association's summer press tour, described the musical's set as a 360-degree dive-in theater with a projection surface in the middle of the room. What viewers will see is the animated feature played by the surface and when a song begins, the screen will transition to the live version.
"There will be visual signatures all the way through that will reinforce the original feature," Hamilton explained. The actors will not re-voice the movie; they will only perform the songs. "The original feature will exist exactly as it always has, and then when we come to a song, we will transition from the original to the new."
"We're not creating any new songs or any new characters or any new environments. We are celebrating the animated feature, but we are also celebrating the bigger world of The Little Mermaid," Hamilton said.
Original composer Alan Menken compared his part in production to an architect: "I design a house that other people will live in. ... I'll be very involved the first time around with something, and then after that there's a structure that other people can take on and it evolves through different forms. Going to the stage, we evolved to a two-act form for Broadway. Going to television, we evolve [for that]."
He did mention, "The last thing I would want is somebody to do a carbon copy of what we've done before."