ABC joined the televised live musical arena—to an extent—with the November 5 presentation of The Little Mermaid Live!. The screen-stage hybrid event showed the beloved animated Disney film while cutting away to an in-studio cast, including Moana and Rise alum Auli'i Cravalho and movie musical veteran Queen Latifah, during the musical numbers.
For its foray into the recent wave (so to speak) of the variety special subgenre, the network pulled in 8.978 million total viewers.
The most recent similar event prior to The Little Mermaid Live!, Fox's Rent, pulled in the lowest ranking out of the modern slate of live musicals. Prior to that, NBC revamped the format in a shift from sound studios to an audience-packed arena vibe with Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert, which reached a total of 9.4 million.
In addition to Cravalho as Ariel and Latifah as Ursula, The Little Mermaid Live! featured John Stamos as Chef Louis, and Graham Phillips as Prince Eric, and Shaggy as Sebastian, as well as a special appearance by the 1989 movie's voice of Ariel: Jodi Benson.