ABC celebrated 30 years of The Little Mermaid by bringing the iconic Disney film to life on TV with The Little Mermaid Live! on Tuesday, and who better to kick things off than the original Ariel herself?
The legendary Jodi Benson, who voiced Ariel in the original Little Mermaid animated movie in 1989, surprised viewers at the start of the live TV musical event by coming onstage to explain how the night was going to be structured, since this television staging is different from all the other TV musicals that have aired on Fox and NBC: The Little Mermaid Live! is using the live performances of Auli’i Cravalho (Moana) as Ariel, Graham Phillips (The Good Wife) as Prince Eric, Queen Latifah as Ursula, John Stamos as Chef Louis, and Shaggy as Sebastian, for all the songs, while airing the original animated movie for all the speaking scenes.
While Benson didn’t take part in any musical performances herself, it’s no surprise that she was invited to appear in The Little Mermaid Live! since she has remained a part of Disney’s world ever since she first voiced Ariel. She reprised her voice role as Ariel in every Little Mermaid prequel and sequel project as well as the Disney Princesses scene in Ralph Breaks the Internet, along with many other Disney projects, like voicing Barbie in the Toy Story franchise, appearing in the live-action Disney film Echanted, and more. And in 2011, she was officially named a Disney Legend.