It’s better under the sea


“The Little Mermaid Live” aired on November 5 and was a concert-style take on the Disney classic.

Rachel Weathers, Memorial Contributing Writer

To celebrate the 30-year anniversary of Disney’s The Little Mermaid, ABC premiered  “The Little Mermaid Live” on Nov. 5. This production captured aspects of the classic movie such as its well-known and engaging songs composed by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman while taking its own original path.

 What made this adaptation of the film different from the original or even the 2007 Broadway musical was the way this live version incorporated the 1989 film with live performances of the film’s recognizable soundtrack. 

The production was directed by Hamish Hamilton and starred Auli’i Cravalho, Queen Latifah, John Stamos, Graham Phillips and Shaggy. The film followed the original story of a young mermaid captivated by life on land.

 For the live aspect of this production, the performance of “Part of Your World”  by Auli’i Cravalho (Ariel) showcased the core theme of the film. The scene was enjoyable because the actress does a good job of encompassing the character and delivering the emotion of the song. In addition, the scene created a sense of nostalgia as the song itself is iconic and what many think of as a standout Disney song.

By far the best performance of the night was “Poor Unfortunate Souls”. Queen Latifah played the villain, Ursula, was quite convincing in her role and perfectly stepped into character. The scene was definitely the most interesting part of the live show as the performance was energetic and showed Queen Latifah’s acting abilities. As a whole, this scene was a shining moment among some of the more underwhelming aspects of the partially live production. 

The Little Mermaid Live did not live up to expectations. Before watching this adaptation, like many others, I was under the impression that this would be a full musical similar to previous live TV productions of other films.

 In a way, viewers were just watching the original 1989 film with cuts to live performances when a musical moment was ahead. The performances were slightly underwhelming as they didn’t exactly capture the world of The Little Mermaid as the Broadway Musical did. 

Certain performances lacked in some areas such as overall production, which is more of the producer and director’s fault. The actors did the best they could, given the more concert-style performances and the fact that the show was live. 

In performances such as “Part of Your World” and “Fathoms Below,” the microphones needed to be turned up as the live audience was louder than the performers; which distracted from the song and did not showcase them as well as possible. 

This production did have some standout details like Ariel’s costume and a few scenes. However, given that it’s not entirely live and it’s incorporated with the original movie, the production is not something that would be devastating to miss. If you have already seen the original film, there’s nothing new to see other than a few lackluster performances.  

Contact Rachel Weathers at [email protected]