Entertainment

ABC Announced A Musical Version Of The Little Mermaid And A Star From Moana Will Take The Lead Role

Dueling versions of  The Little Mermaid? These ocean streets are getting spicy out here! After Disney announced Halle Bailey would portray Ariel in the live-action film, folks were excited by the new, multicultural version of the classic fairytale. Now ABC, which is also Disney property, will air a live musical version of the story. They’ve chosen to go the multicultural route again, which is always a great choice. 

Not everyone can make it out to a theater and kids who are stuck at home deserve to see themselves too. The story is a completely fictional fantasy. It makes sense to cast based on talent and who can best encompass the energy of each role, anyway. Never forget the iconic ABC version of Cinderella starring Brandy as the title role and Whitney Houston as her fairy godmother. 

Your fave is back!

Aulí’i Cravalho, star of Moana, will play Ariel. Cravalho is of Native Hawaiin, Puerto Rican, Portuguese, Chinese, and Irish descent. No one plays an internally conflicted young woman about to make some questionable choices that piss off her father only to eventually redeem herself and flex on every hater quite like Cravalho. She’s got that youthful vibrant energy that I lost when I found out adobo was just four different spices mixed together with preservatives. Now I don’t believe in magic and am an internet ghoul. Protect Cravalho at all costs!

The black Ursula lives!

Fans who wanted a black woman to capture the wit and rambunctious persona of Ursula will not be disappointed this time around. While I think Melissa McCarthy will be a great comedic counterpart to Bailey, and after all the OG Disney Ursula is based on a white drag queen, I am excited to see Queen Latifah take on the role for this version. 

“’Fortunately I know a little magic.’ Excited to be part of The Wonderful World of Disney Presents The Little Mermaid Live!” The Queen tweeted.

After seeing her swagger as Matron “Mama” Morton in Chicago, there is no doubt in my mind the Queen will deliver. 

Shaggy — and I can’t emphasize this enough — Shaggy!

Shaggy will play the crab, Sebastian. Shaggy. Yes, that Shaggy. This means the “It Wasn’t Me” dancehall singer will perform “Under the Sea” live in front of literal millions of human beings. By the glory of some unthinkable god, please tell me he has prosthetic crab legs. I can’t think of a more 2019 casting choice than this besides, like, the entire cast of the Cats movie.

While it may seem a little odd, I am glad we won’t have to hear someone doing a clumsy impersonation of a Caribbean accent. And although I have never seen the man act, I say put him in Big Little Lies season three because somehow I know Shaggy only improves screenplays. 

We’re in unchartered territory. 

This will be ABC’s first live musical. NBC paved the way for the contemporary format with 2013’s Sound of Music special. Fox hopped on the bandwagon with Grease and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Now ABC wants in on the television musical big bucks. Let’s hope that ABC has watched the competition closely and tweaked their process accordingly. It is very difficult to translate stage musicals for the screen to no fault of the performers themselves. Seeing Ariel fake swim in a fake ocean, wearing a fake mermaid tail, on stage, on my television, there is not enough $3.00 wine on earth to make that appear seamless to anyone. 

But what about the music? 

Disney currently is home to both the broadway and animated versions of the story. The live musical will combine music from both mediums, which was largely composed by Alan Menken. This is a great idea. In the animated film, Ariel doesn’t get many numbers because she loses her voice so early on. This will hopefully ensure we get more bops from Ariel and don’t miss out on Cravalho’s voice. There’s still no word on who will be playing King Triton, Flounder, or Prince Eric. 

The live musical will air on November 5 at 8 PM EST known officially as The Wonderful World of Disney presents The Little Mermaid Live! It just rolls right off the tongue. 

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The 1997 ‘Cinderella’ Starring Brandy and Whitney Houston Will Finally Stream on Disney+ and Fans Can’t Contain Their Excitement

Entertainment

The 1997 ‘Cinderella’ Starring Brandy and Whitney Houston Will Finally Stream on Disney+ and Fans Can’t Contain Their Excitement

Photo via Disneyplus/Instagram

This one is for all you ’90s babies out there. Since Disney+ launched in 2019, the streaming service provided an endless selection of throw-back titles that sparked all of our nostalgia (we’re looking at you, “Gotta Kick it Up“).

But die-hard Disney fans couldn’t help but notice a mysterious and unexplained absence of a classic from their library. Where was the 1997 classic “Cinderella” starring Brandy?

Well finally, our prayers have been answered. On Thursday, Disney announced that “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella” will be available for streaming on Disney+ on February 12th.

Many millennials–and maybe even some older Gen Zers–remember this version of “Cinderella” as the colorblind casting experiment that had a Black princess (played by Brandy), a South Asian prince (played by Paolo Montalban), a white stepmother (played by Bernadette Peters) and a Black fairy godmother (played by the late, great Whitney Houston).

At the time, the TV-movie was groundbreaking for its multiethnic cast. Even the background actors were from racially diverse.

“One of [the casting director’s] mantras, the philosophy that begat ‘Hamilton’ in fact, was to do color blind casting and always cast with diversity,” one of the movie’s producers explained to Shondaland in an oral history about the movie. “It informed how we looked at the world and how we looked at our projects. We want to reflect the world we’re working in.”

“We even got the dancers we wanted,” said another producer. “We cast Latino, Asian, white, and black dancers.”

Since the movie’s premiere in 1997, the entertainment industry has become much more open-minded when it comes to colorblind casting–a term that has now evolved into “color-conscious casting“.

Colorblind/conscious casting has become more mainstream due to cultural phenomena like “Hamilton” and “Bridgerton“.

According to Diep Tran, the associate editor of American Theatre magazine, color-conscious casting means “we’re aware of the historic discrimination in the entertainment industry and we’re also aware of what it means to put a body of color onstage.”

Naturally, fans of the 1997 film are over-the-moon that this Disney deep-cut is coming to a streaming service.

Fans have been campaigning for the movie to be on Disney+ since the streaming service launched in 2019

Twitter is awash with celebratory statements like “Brandy and Whitney Houston acting on a screen together is a beautiful blessing” and “IN TIME FOR VALENTINE’S DAY!!! GUESS WHAT MY HUSBAND IS NOW GOING TO BE FORCED TO WATCH WITH ME!!!”… Hey, that last one isn’t really a bad idea.

We, for one, will definitely be tuning in on February 12th to take a much-need walk down memory lane.

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Broadway’s ‘Frozen’ Is Getting A New Elsa And Ciara Renée Will Be Playing The Beloved Character

Entertainment

Broadway’s ‘Frozen’ Is Getting A New Elsa And Ciara Renée Will Be Playing The Beloved Character

What do Idina Menzel, Caissie Levy, and Caroline Bowman have in common? They’re all Broadway actresses that have portrayed Elsa from “Frozen.” They also happen to be all white. Well, that’s all about to change!

Afro-Latina actress Ciara Renée will be playing the role of Elsa in “Frozen” on Broadway.

Credit: ciararenee8 / Instagram

Frozen made its Broadway debut in 2018 and was played by Caissie Levy. Idina Menzel was the voice of Elsa in the animated film. Now, an Afro-Latina has scored the coveted role. 

Renée will be playing Elsa, and McKenzie Kurtz will be making her Broadway debut as Anna. Renée and McKenzie will take over the roles. Caissie Levy and Patti Murin end their run as Elsa and Anna respectively on Feb. 16. Renée was previously in the Broadway show “Big Fish” as the Witch as well as “Pippin.”

“Here it is! It’s official! I’m joining the cast of @frozenbroadway as Elsa alongside this bright new star, @mckenziekurtz! And I am incredibly grateful! This is an opportunity to expand minds, open hearts, and empower folks with the power of LOVE! I can’t wait to get started!”

While we’re still getting to know the 29-year-old, we are learning so much about this extraordinary actress who is pretty amazing at showing her biggest supporters lots of love in return.

Credit: ciararenee8 / Instagram

Renée, who is half Black and half Puerto Rican, thanked her friends, family, and supporters by giving them exact instructions on what to do when they come to see her show on Broadway. 

“I just want to extend my heartfelt gratitude for all the support and love I received yesterday. It was honestly overwhelming. Thank you, thank you,” Renée said in a video on her Insta-story. “I am so thrilled to be playing Elsa.” 

“But I wanted to set down some ground rules about people coming to see the show,” she said. “I am always so grateful when people come to see the show, people I know, people I don’t. But it isn’t my favorite thing to know when you’re coming. So, if you’re someone I know well, and we have each other’s phone number and you live in New York City, please do not tell me when you’re coming. Please come and text me at intermission or at the end of the show, which is preferred, and I will make sure to put your name on the list. I will check it right after the show.”

She also gave instructions to those she doesn’t know all that well. “If we don’t know each other well or talk super often or you’re from out of town, please do let me know when you’re coming because I want to make sure that I get to see you. For everybody else, I will 100 percent do my very best to Stage Door [where actors meet fans after the show as they exit the theater] as much as humanly possible. I know people come from all over the world to see Broadway and I want to be there as much as I can. If I am not there, please know it’s for a reason. I may not be feeling well, or something is pulling me away, I don’t know what it is, but I will always do my best to Stage Door because I love meeting you all and I am so honored that you would come to see our shows.”

We just love how precise and in control she is about meeting friends and fans. That kind of gratitude will definitely take her far in Broadway and Hollywood. 

Aside from her work on the stage, Renée has also appeared in several television shows.

Credit: ciararenee8 / Instagram

The Harrisburg, Pennsylvania native and 2013 graduate of Baldwin Wallace University has appeared in Facebook Watch’s series “Strangers,” Netflix’s “Master of None,” CBS’s “Big Bang Theory,” and on the CW’s superhero series “Legends of Tomorrow,” “Arrow,” and “Flash.”

If you haven’t heard Renée’s stellar voice, here’s a clip of the actress singing Demi Lovato’s “Stone Cold.”

Congrats on this new role, Ciara! We can’t wait to see her show on Broadway! Will you be going?

READ: The New Cinderella Remake Tapped Camila Cabello To Play The Princess And Billy Porter To Be The Fabulous Godmother

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