The latest live TV musical event hit ABC on Tuesday (Nov. 5) with The Little Mermaid Live!. Unlike most of its predecessors, Little Mermaid was a mixture of live musical performances in front of a theater audience (with songs from the film and the stage version) and footage from the beloved 1989 animated Disney classic, which was less jarring than you’d expect.
From Queen Latifah’s scenery-chomping Ursula to John Stamos’ wacky cameo as the crab-crazed chef, these are our five favorite moments from The Little Mermaid Live! on ABC.
“Fathoms Below” Comes Out on Top
Ariel might be from the bottom of the sea, but Little Mermaid Live kicked off on a sky-high note with a rip-roaring run through of “Fathoms Below.” In a movie renowned for producing numerous Disney all-time classics, this song is hardly the most memorable musically speaking, but the cast of the ABC production imbued it with such joyous verve that it was impossible not to smile. From Graham Phillips’ glowing stage presence to the energetic choreography to the real-live dog playing Max to the audience members waving ribbons, it was a delight.
Queen Latifah Scares Up a Win As Ursula
While the entire show was well cast, whoever came up with the idea of Queen Latifah as Ursula deserves an Emmy. Like the sea witch dominating every inch of her lair, Latifah owned the stage, prowling around with a delicious mixture of sneering exasperation and sardonic camp in “Poor Unfortunate Souls.” Thanks to her history as a hip-hop pioneer, the Queen readily spat out the lyrics to what’s the most syllable-stuffed song in The Little Mermaid with ease. Whether flicking her eyes deviously about the stage, belting out the buttery final notes or cackling maniacally into a glowing shell containing Ariel’s voice, Latifah brought unity to Twitter — basically everyone agreed she was the show’s MVP.
John Stamos Gives It His All For “Les Poissons”
Uncle Jesse did not come to play. Stamos, complete with ponytail and handlebar mustache, danced and sang his way as the murderous Chef Louis. His thrill at slashing and stuffing the (fake) crab while affecting a heavy French accent made it a pure triumph. And the actor’s own joy with his scene-stealing role shone through to a delighted audience.
We’ll Do It Live
While the choice to present The Little Mermaid as half-animated movie and half-live concert was certainly interesting, the live portion — juxtaposed against the movie — definitely impressed. From Amber Riley’s charming and powerful “Daughters of Triton” to Shaggy’s colorful “Under the Sea,” the set design and staging took this musical to the next level. Especially exciting? Auliʻi Cravalho as Ariel “swimming” through the air during “Part of Your World.”
It’s The Little More-maid
Fans of the 1989 film who have never seen the Broadway musical might have been confused when Prince Eric — played by Graham Phillips — began his solo “Her Voice.” That bewilderment might have devolved even more when he dueted with Cravalho’s Ariel on “If Only.” But the addition of the Broadway tunes added a nice touch to the familiar.