While Disney is getting ready to unleash their new live-action version of The Lion King on July 18, the studio has just announced a major step forward in the adaptation of another animated classic, The Little MermaidIt seems that Grownish star Halle Bailey, who is also a member of the R&B group Chloe x Halle, will be taking on the role of Ariel.

Rob Marshall, who most recently directed Mary Poppins Returns, comments in a statement, “After an extensive search, it was abundantly clear that Halle possesses that rare combination of spirit, heart, youth, innocence and substance — plus a glorious singing voice — all intrinsic qualities necessary to play this iconic role.”

Jodi Benson, the voice of Ariel for a generation of viewers, in an interview with StageBuddy.com. expressed her enthusiasm for starring in that film: “I grew up in the Cinderella era, but never in a million years did it cross my mind to be a Disney Princess, work with Disney, or become a voice actress. My focus as a child was the stage and Broadway, making a living, not being a waitress, living in New York. It’s beautiful to see God take something that never came into my consciousness and turn it into my livelihood. It’s such a wonderful gift, it was all a wonderful surprise. The Little Mermaid was never part of my plan, that’s why I love my job.

“A lot of Ariel I can relate to,” she added, “because as a child growing up, you have to make those connections with your characters in order to make them authentic, real and vulnerable. Ariel is tenacious to a fault, I see that as a positive and in our world today with everything going on, it’s easy to give up hope, your dreams. Life is hard, it’s not always easy, there are some really hard times for all of us to walk through and that tenacity is so important. Even today at my age, I feel tired to fight certain battles, and that tenacity is something I learned from Ariel, to press forward, to work through the hard stuff and not give up.”

As to other cast members in the new version, so far we know that Jacob Tremblay (The Book of Henry, Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep) is playing Ariels best friend, the fish Flounder; and Awkwafina (Ocean’s 8 and Crazy Rich Asians) is taking on the part of the seagull Scuttle. At the moment, negotiations are underway with Melissa McCarthy to assume the role of the evil Ursula.

The music from this film should be very interesting in that Alan Menken (who worked on the animated version) will be teaming up with Hamilton‘s Lin-Manuel Miranda on the music. Lin-Manuel had also worked with Rob Marshall on Mary Poppins Returns.

Other Disney adaptations in the works include Mulan, Pinocchio and Lady and the Tramp, the latter of which will actually be a part of the new Disney+ streaming service that is going to be launching in November.

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