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The Little Mermaid Live opens with original Ariel actress Jodi Benson

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ABC celebrated 30 years ofThe Little Mermaidby bringing the iconic Disney film to life on TV withThe Little Mermaid Live!on Tuesday, and who better to kick things off thanthe original Ariel herself?
The legendaryJodi Benson, who voiced Ariel in the original Mermaidanimated 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 ofAuli’i Cravalho(Moana) as Ariel, Graham Phillips (The Good Wife)as Prince Eric,Queen Latifahas Ursula,John Stamosas Chef Louis, andShaggyas Sebastian, for all the songs, while airing the original animated movie for all the speaking scenes.

Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic; Everett Collection

While Benson didn’t take part in any musical performances herself, it’s no surprise that she was invited to appear inThe 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 everyLittle Mermaidprequel and sequel project as well as theDisney Princesses scene inRalph Breaks the Internet, along with many other Disney projects, like voicing Barbie in theToy Storyfranchise, appearing in the live-action Disney filmEchanted, and more. And in 2011, she was officially named a Disney Legend.

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