'The Little Mermaid Live!': Five very important questions about ABC's bizarre musical

Auli'i Cravalho as Ariel in ABC's "The Little Mermaid Live!"

ABC finally aired its highly hyped "The Little Mermaid Live!" extravaganza Tuesday night, and, well ... calling it "live" was kind of a big stretch.

Nonetheless, #TheLittleMermaidLive was the No. 1 worldwide Twitter trending topic for hours — precisely the reason so many networks air live musical events these days. But here are five very important questions we still have after watching the two-hour broadcast:

1) Why wasn't any of the acting live?

Throughout the special, there was barely any spoken dialogue - the only time the actors appeared onstage was to burst into song. That was clearly a specific choice, but it seemed strange for the characters to barely speak to one another. One of the most climactic moments in the story is when Ariel (Auli'i Cravalho) finally regains her voice and Prince Eric (Graham Phillips) realizes that she's the angelic creature who saved him from drowning. Instead, producers just aired the scene from the movie.

Luckily, some of the musical numbers were elaborate enough to make up for it: For example, Cravalho's "Part of Your World," where Ariel suddenly started swimming through the air with the assistance of some very helpful wires.


2) Why didn't the producers use more of Ursula?

Queen Latifah dominated the show as Ursula the sea witch who just wants to live her best life by usurping King Triton to rule the ocean and stealing his daughter Ariel's voice. Latifah kicked off "Poor Unfortunate Souls" with the signature evil cackle and crushed the dramatic ballad as she tried to persuade Ariel to sign the scroll that would turn her into a human. (And force her to give up her voice, of course.) Latifah strolled around in an incredible tentacle-centric costume with her pet eels, smoke billowing everywhere. That said: Why didn't producers use Latifah more often in the live-action scenes? She was clearly the best in the cast, yet got only a couple of appearances. The audience demanded more.


3) Why wasn't Shaggy dressed as a crab?

The "It Wasn't Me" and "Boombastic" singer was inspired casting for Sebastian, the perpetually skittish crab who serves as an adviser to King Triton. Shaggy looked like he was having a blast as he sang two of the movie's most iconic hits ("Under the Sea" and "Kiss the Girl"), but one question consumed social media: Why wasn't he dressed as an actual crab?! Every other character's costume was comically elaborate, yet Shaggy danced around in a red leather suit that - depending on whom you asked - evoked Michael Jackson in the "Thriller" video or Britney Spears in the "Oops! ... I Did It Again" video.

This became even more confusing when Shaggy was completely absent from the famous "Les Poissons" scene, where Prince Eric's Chef Louis (John Stamos) loses his mind chasing Sebastian around the kitchen as he tries to cook him for dinner. Instead, the crab was portrayed by ... a child?


4) Was John Stamos born to play a deranged French chef?

Quite possibly. He was a welcome burst of energy as the palace chef who just wants to make stuffed crab but can't seem to catch the live one running around his kitchen. Stamos said in interviews that he wanted to play the chef as "insane," and it was a great instinct, as he jumped on tables and threw food and wildly swung around a knife. It also helped that Stamos had experience with the character, as he starred as Louis in the Hollywood Bowl version of the musical in 2016.


5) Why were King Triton, Flounder and Scuttle left out of the live-action cast?

All three have essential roles! King Triton is the ruler of the ocean and Ariel's father; Flounder is Ariel's best friend; and Scuttle the idiot seagull has some of the more famous lines in the movie. ("Dinglehopper," anyone?)

And OK, technically Flounder was in the live-action scenes as a puppet. But, uh, it wasn't a great look.

Join our Mailing List

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Recommended for you

Load comments