For Auli’i Cravalho (shown here), this is a pleasant bit of type-casting. She’s in a water-y life – again.
She had the title role in “Moana,” as an adventurous islander; now it’s “Little Mermaid Live.”
In real life, Cravalho hasn’t, to our knowledge, taken a solo ocean trip in search of a legendary demigod, as Moana did. Or collected artifacts in an undersea kingdom, as Ariel the mermaid did.
But she is Hawaiian, which makes her close to both. “(I) grew up maybe 20 minutes from beach,” she said, “so I would say I was pretty water-active as a kid.”
There’s more to it than just getting wet. “I can relate to (the) curiosity and to wondering what’s just beyond my reach.”
Growing up in idyllic worlds, both characters still wanted to see what else was out there.. Now Cravalho is doing the same. She sang at the Academy Award ceremony … she starred in NBC’s high school drama “Rise” … and on Tuesday (17 days before turning 19), she’s part of an ABC experiment.
“Real fans (will) come to our ‘Little Mermaid’ theater” on the Disney lot, said producer Hamish Hamilton. “In the middle of the room, we will have a giant projection surface.”
There, people will watch the 1989 animated movie … until it’s time for a song – 10 or 11 of them, including two or three that were added for Broadway. Then the screen will lift up and there will be production numbers, done live, with full sets and costumes. It will be “a visual buffet,” Cravalho said.
Joining her will be Queen Latifah as Ursula, John Stamos as the French chef and Graham Phillips as Prince Eric.
And as Sebastian is Shaggy, a reggae star from Jamaica and likes the “whole Caribbean feel” of the music. He’s also familiar – maybe overfamiliar – with the movie.
“I have three daughters,” he said, “and I had to sit down and watch this movie over and over and over and over and over and over again. And I feel like Sebastian is me because after a while, … they are reciting ever line (and) you’ve got to join in.”
He even recorded “kind of a rap version” of “Under the Sea,” back in 1996. Now he’ll be doing that same song in front of a couple-hundred people on the Disney lot … and a lot more watching on TV.
– “Little Mermaid Live,” 8-10 p.m. Tuesday (Nov. 5), ABC; the music will be live in Eastern time zones