When Does ‘The Little Mermaid Live’ Air On ABC?

Live musicals have become an annual event for networks. The best have included Grease: Live and The Sound of Music: Live. On the downside, Rent: Live aired a dress rehearsal due to a cast member injury. Are people still talking about Rocky Horror Live or Peter Pan Live? So what is ABC getting into with The Wonderful World of Disney Presents: The Little Mermaid Live? And when can we see it?

The Little Mermaid Live
The cast and producers of “The Wonderful World of Disney presents The Little Mermaid Live!” | Image Group LA/ABC via Getty Images

ABC announced to the Television Critics Association that it will air The Wonderful World of Disney Presents: The Little Mermaid Live on November 5 at 8 p.m. Here is everything we know about The Little Mermaid Live so far.

A live audience will watch ‘The Little Mermaid’ animated movie

The show begins with a broadcast of the classic animated movie. Fans will come to the Disney lot and anyone who didn’t get one of those invites can watch those fans watch it at home. 

“We’re going to invite anybody to come, both televisionally and real people, real fans, come to our Little Mermaid theater, the drive-in theater on the Disney lot, a few hundred people,” Director Hamish Hamilton told the TCA. “In the middle of the room, we will have a giant projection surface, and on that projection surface we will play the feature.”

Okay, so if it’s the animated movie, what part is live? Read on…

The animated ‘Little Mermaid’ will break into live-action song

Whenever Ariel, Sebastian or Urusula start singing, that’s when it will cut to live-actors in the theater. Those actors will be Auli’i Cravalho as Ariel, Shaggy as Sebastian and Queen Latifah as Ursula.

“When we get to one of Alan [Menken] and Howard [Ashman] ’s wonderful songs, essentially we will transition beautifully and smoothly into a world of live performance,” Hamilton said. “So here’s a suggestion of how we may do it. Live-action, live-action, then a blend of live and the original feature, then into the original feature. So basically kind of a live transitional graphic show.”

Shaggy and Auli'i Cravalho
Shaggy and Auli’i Cravalho | Image Group LA/ABC via Getty Images

The live parts will be the songs, and then it will return to the animated movie.

“So we are creating a theater, playing the movie, and stopping cleverly and going into live performance and coming out with maybe a jellyfish or two,” Hamilton teased.

Key frames of ‘The Little Mermaid’ will be built on stage

When the live-actors are performing songs, Hamilton hopes to build real-life undersea caves and oceanliners on stage just like the ones drawn by Disney artists. 

“All the way through the original movie there’s some truly iconic shots, which you see whenever The Little Mermaid is referenced,” Hamilton said. “We will recreate some of those moments in our own little way.”

‘The Little Mermaid Live’ is a celebration, not an adaptation

There has already been a live stage adaptation of The Little Mermaid on Broadway. The Wonderful World of Disney is not presenting the Broadway musical. They wanted to celebrate the original movie in a unique way.

“I think the key is it’s a celebration of the movie,” Hamilton said. “We are putting the movie large and direct in the room. We have a few hundred fans in front of that screen. They are celebrating the movie, these three [actors] are celebrating the movie. It’s not a literal interpretation. It’s a celebration, and they can be in the moment and smiling within that moment.”

That will make The Little Mermaid Live stand out from the other live musical productions too. Grease: Live didn’t cut to John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John.

“The original feature will exist exactly as it always has, and we all love, and then when we come to a song, we will transition from the original to the new,” Hamilton said. “There’s a separation of everything there.”