The Little Mermaid Live premiered on ABC on Tuesday, November 5 at 8/7c. The special intercut the original Disney animated film with live, reimagined music numbers, including the protagonist’s big number, “Part of Your World.”
For the live presentation of the beloved movie, Auli’i Cravalho played the role of Ariel. This was the second time the young actress got to voice a Disney princess; she is the voice of Moana.
Cravalho, dressed as Ariel with her trademark red hair, seashell bra, and green tail, took the stage for the first time to perform the song. To bring the live audience and stage under the sea along with the characters, she was attached to wires that flew her around the stage as though she was swimming as Ariel does in the original animated film.
In an interview with Collider, Cravalho spoke about the experience learning to “fly” for the performance; she said “Well, it’s definitely something that I’m still learning. I’m not a professional aerialist. I want to say that, right off the bat. But, it’s really fun. I actually really, really enjoy it. I’ve been doing a lot of core exercises, and I’ve also been working with our wonderful choreographers, Nick [Florez] and R.J. [Durell]. All in all, I think I’m going to look like a pretty sick mermaid, flying through the air, in front of a live studio audience. I’m pretty thrilled, actually.”
As soon as she started singing, it was clear why Auli’i was cast by Disney yet again. Her youthful energy and clear as a bell vocals make her the perfect princess, and she was captivating even if her costume and choreography somewhat restricted her ability to move.
The reprise of “Part of Your World” was not as well received. Critical viewers took to Twitter to comment on Cravalho’s performance. Twitter user Duvonne Berry joked “Honestly, Ursula is doing Ariel a favor. Her voice may need rest.”
To promote The Little Mermaid Live!, a sneak peek video of Cravalho singing the iconic song was released in advance of her live performance.
Before the live show, Cravalho spoke to People about the advice she received from Jodi Benson, who voiced Ariel in the animated feature. She said “I’ve spoken to Jodi and she’s an absolute dream. I actually met her a few years ago at D23, which is a wonderful Disney convention, and I remember her just telling me — and this is before, of course, anything about me playing Ariel — she said that Ariel had changed her life and I should ‘buckle up, buttercup’ because everything is about to change and about to be so magical and amazing.”
In an interview with USA Today, she said that “Part of Her World” was her favorite song to perform in the show, adding that it was “really exciting to me because I get to do some aerial work in that. So Ariel gets to do aerial work, which I think is also the best pun in the world. And I’m really, really excited. I’ve been doing a lot of ab exercises, I’ve been doing a lot of crunches, a lot of planks.”