ABC Announces ‘The Little Mermaid Live!’ Musical & a Return to Limited Event Series


Before the live-action film version of Disney’s animated classic The Little Mermaid was announced (and debated about in some corners), there had been talk of a live TV musical — ABC’s first — based on the film.

On Monday at the Television Critics Association (TCA) Summer Press Tour, Karey Burke, president of ABC Entertainment, finally confirmed that The Wonderful World of Disney Presents: The Little Mermaid Live! is officially a go and is set to premiere Tuesday, November 5, which is right around the time of the original 1989 feature’s 30th anniversary.

Burke also revealed some of the cast for the musical. Following her breakout role as the voice of the title character in the Disney’s Moana, Auli’i Cravalho will voice Ariel in the live studio production that Burke said will combine live-action, animation and puppetry.

Queen Latifah will play Ursula, and Shaggy will voice Sebastian the crab. More casting announcements will come at a later date.

Described as being presented in a “never-before-seen hybrid format,” The Little Mermaid Live! will, per ABC, “feature beautifully intricate sets and costumes (take an initial peek in the photo above), with music from the original animated film and the Tony-winning Broadway stage version, originally composed by eight-time Oscar-winning composer, Alan Menken. Howard Ashman’s iconic film lyrics will also be showcased, while lyricist for the Broadway adaptation, Glenn Slater, will contribute to the star-studded spectacular.”

In other programming news, Burke — referencing previous impactful limited series like Roots for which ABC used to be known — said that the network will go back to creating those types of productions, and announced two notable upcoming event series.

First announced is the upcoming anthology series Women of the Movement (working title), which is billed as a chronology of the civil rights movement as told from a black woman’s point of view. The first season will be focused on Mamie Till, who devoted her life to seeking justice in her son Emmett’s name following his brutal murder in the Jim Crow South.

The first season of the anthology is inspired by the book Emmett Till: The Murder That Shocked the World and Propelled the Civil Rights Movement by Devery S. Anderson. Will Smith and Jay-Z will be among Women of the Movement‘s executive producers.

Burke also announced that in 2021, ABC will be producing the limited series Fall and Rise: The Story of 9/11, based on Mitchell Zuckoff’s book of the same name, and tied to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

The Wonderful World of Disney Presents: The Little Mermaid Live!, Tuesday, Nov. 5, Live 8/7c, ABC

Women of the Movement, Premiere TBD, ABC

Fall and Rise: The Story of 9/11, Premiere TBD, ABC