On July 16th, 2020 the Walt Disney Studios had announced that it would debut an original documentary on the life and music of Disney Legend, Howard Ashman titled Howard.
Howard is scheduled to be streamed on Disney+ on August 7th, 2020.
Howard Ashman’s influence on Disney is evident, even today. He used the storytelling formula, normally used in musical theater and Disneyfied it.
If it wasn’t for Howard Ashman, Ariel wouldn’t have her iconic “want song” of Part of Your World.
He was even referred as “Another Walt” by Roy E. Disney for his passion of music, drive for perfection, and love of storytelling.
The announcement of this documentary is very exciting for any Disney fan or fan of The Little Mermaid knowing that Howard’s contributions to The Walt Disney Studios goes beyond the storyboard and piano.
This documentary will give fans a chance to learn more about a man whose become nothing short of a Legend. Howard Ashman.
For those who truly know me, know that Sierra Boggess has been an inspiration of mine since 2008. That year, Sierra originated the role as Ariel and made her Broadway debut in Disney’s stage musical adaption of The Little Mermaid.
Something in my heart, knew that my life would change forever when I purchased the soundtrack (compact disc) at Border’s Bookstore. And it did. The soundtrack changed my life and to this day, it’s always on repeat. But more importantly, Sierra’s message of:
You are Enough.
You are so Enough.
It’s Unbelievable how Enough You are!
Sierra and her voice, has given me the confidence to pursue my dreams, when I had many telling me I couldn’t or I wasn’t good enough. Whenever I listen to her sing Part of Your World or If Only (Quartet), I’m reminded that our dreams are worth striving for, regardless of what others say and that making sacrifices is part of that journey.
I personally use my Light Lessons by Sierra Boggess as motivation and inspiration daily. Sierra’s Light Lesson’s are daily reminders that you can change the world with kindness and gratitude practice. That we can all lift each other up, by showing the world, our best selves and recognizing our enoughness!
So how did Sierra Boggess land the iconic role of Ariel on Broadway?
In 2006, Sierra went to New York to audition for a new production of Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber’s hit musical The Phantom of the Opera in Las Vegas. Before she had boarded her flight, Sierra got a call that she had landed the role of Christine. It was a role of a lifetime!
As an alternate Christine, she would perform alongside Brent Barrett and Anthony Crivello as her Phantom’s. This production was directed by Hal Prince. The show opened on June 24th, 2006.
Sierra dazzled the Las Vegas stage as Christine, embodying the character’s innocence, empathy, and strength, unlike any other actress before her.
In October 2006, Sierra returned to New York to audition for Disney’s new musical The Little Mermaid for the role of Ariel. The musical would be based off of Disney’s animated film version of The Little Mermaid. Sierra unfortunately, didn’t receive a call-back for the audition, so she returned to Las Vegas, and continued to play Christine in The Phantom of the Opera.
While she was attending a yoga class in January 2007, Sierra received a call from her agent telling her to “fly to NYC in three days for a final callback for The Little Mermaid. “And that is how she got the iconic role of Ariel on Broadway!
On November 3rd, 2007 the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre in NYC, Sierra Boggess made her Broadway debut as Ariel! The official opening night for the production of The Little Mermaid was January 10th, 2008.
As a fan of Sierra’s, since her Broadway debut, I don’t think she understood the impact, she would later have on musical theater and on the lives of many. I have fond memories of watching Sierra sing Part of Your World on The Today Show, Good Morning America, The Tony Awards, and so many other TV programs, desperately wishing I could someday see her perform live.
Sierra received nominations from Drama Desk and Drama League and won the Broadway.com Favorite Breakthrough Performance for her role as Ariel!
Thank you Sierra Boggess, for inspiring so many and to embrace who they are! You are a true inspiration and incredible performer! And remember…You are Enough. You are so Enough. It’s unbelievable how Enough You Are!
The Little Mermaid Live! debuted on November 5th, 2019, as a special film-hybrid anniversary concert. It was filmed on location at the Walt Disney Studios.
A glowing Jodi Benson (voice of Ariel) opened the show, sharing some of her memories of making The Little Mermaid 30 years ago and how much, the film has been apart of her life.
The Little Mermaid Live! was directed by Ron Clements, John Musker, and Hamish Hamilton.
John Musker and Ron Clements wrote the original script for The Little Mermaid for Disney in the 80s. Like Jodi Benson, anything regarding The Little Mermaid, they’ve written it, such as the The Little Mermaid TV Series, The Little Mermaid 2: Return to the Sea, and so much more. So, it’s no surprise, that they were involved in The Little Mermaid Live! as well as the new The Little Mermaid Live Action film starring Halle Bailey as Ariel.
The Little Mermaid Live! starred Auli’i Cravalho as Ariel, Shaggy as Sebastian, Graham Philips as Prince Eric, John Stamos as Chef Louis, and Queen Latifah as Ursula.
One of the best performances of the night, was Queen Latifah singing ‘Poor Unfortunate Souls’. She added her own spin to the classic song, for the villain Ursula. Queen Latifah owned the stage and personified Ursula in every way.
Another fan favorite moment of the night was Auli’i (Ariel) and Graham (Eric) singing ‘If Only’. ‘If Only’ first made it’s debut in 2008, for The Little Mermaid on Broadway. It was a wonderful opportunity for fans, who had never heard the song for the very first time.
The Little Mermaid Live! overall, was filled with many magical moments, including John Stamos (Chef Louis) forgetting Prince Eric’s name.
It was definitely a wonderful blend of screen and stage, that many fans will remember as a wonderful way to commemorate the 30th anniversary of The Little Mermaid.
This particular article is dedicated to Disney Legend: Jodi Benson, whose changed and inspired the lives of many.
Jodi is best-known for providing the talking and singing voice of Ariel in Disney’s 1989 film, The Little Mermaid.
For many of us, growing up in the 90’s, Ariel was a part of our childhood’s and memories. We danced to the unforgettable soundtrack on a cassette tape, pretended to be mermaid’s in the pool, and begged our parent’s to take us to Disney Parks, just to catch a glimpse of Ariel or if we were lucky enough, to meet her.
Ariel was one of our earliest role models, before many of us knew, what a role model was. We desired Ariel’s life, the same way, Ariel desired to explore the human world and to be on land. Jodi’s influence has transcended for a lot of fans, beyond childhood. We see Jodi Benson as an icon, inspiration, friend, and mentor. She’s helped shape the lives of many, by being as vocal, strong, and determined as Ariel. We are forever blessed to have Jodi be a part of our world. There are many of us, who are eternally grateful to Jodi, in ways, that mere words cannot describe.
If it wasn’t for Jodi Benson voicing Ariel, this blog, wouldn’t exist. It’s because of Ariel, that I became interested in mermaid’s. Ariel was and forever will be, my favorite Disney Princess and will continue to inspire me in all aspects of my life. For me, no trip to any Disney Park is complete without visiting Ariel. And there are many other fans, who would say the exact same thing.
So, how did Jodi land the iconic role of Ariel?
Short answer. Howard Ashman.
Back in 1986, Jodi Benson starred in the ill-fated musical Smile at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, that only ran for 48 performances and closed January 1987. The lyrics and book for Smile were written by Howard Ashman.
After the show closed, Howard offered an audition to Jodi and the other girl’s in Smile for another project he was working on with Alan Menken. That film was Disney’s The Little Mermaid. He gave Jodi a snippet of the script and a cassette recording of him singing Part of Your World.
A year later, Jodi would get a phone call that would change her life forever. She got the part of Ariel.
The Little Mermaid would be Disney’s first fairy tale film in 30 years. The film is based on Hans Christian Andersen’s, The Little Mermaid that was published in 1837. Many fans, would consider Disney’s version of The Little Mermaid as their introduction to the classic fairy tale and to mermaids.
As we grew up, so did Disney’s The Little Mermaid franchise. Jodi voiced Ariel in video games, TV Shows, sequels and prequels, and so much more. The franchise itself, would be nothing without her.
Thanks Jodi for being Part of Our World! We love you!
Disney celebrated it’s 30th anniversary for it’s beloved film “The Little Mermaid” with a special live-action/animation hybrid event with “The Little Mermaid Live”.
“The Little Mermaid Live” starred Auli’i Cravalho as Ariel, Graham Phillips as Prince Eric, Queen Latifah as Ursula, Shaggy as Sebastion, and John Stamos as Chef Louis.
The highly-anticipated trailer, featured the cast in their rehearsal costumes with Auli’i singing in the background. It may only be 30 seconds in length, but it’s full of exceptional detail, depicting iconic places and scenes in the original 1989 film of “The Little Mermaid”.
2019 marked a big milestone for Disney’s “The Little Mermaid.” The film had celebrated it’s 30th anniversary and in honor of that anniversary, Disney had decided to host a live-hybrid event titled: “The Little Mermaid Live”. Disney had announced that they would be using puppets, Disney magic, and star-studded cast to bring this Disney Classic back to life.
Disney was wise in it’s casting for this event, by selecting Auli’i Cravalho as Ariel, Graham Phillips as Prince Eric, Queen Latifah as Ursula, Shaggy as Sebastion, and John Stamos as Chef Louis.
“The Little Mermaid Live” is Auli’i Cravalho’s second project with Disney. She originated the singing and acting voice for the Disney-Pixar film “Moana” in 2016. Her voice is soft, yet powerful, which is why she was perfectly cast for the role of Ariel.
There was no doubt, to many fans however, that Queen Latifah would steal the show as the sassy and villainess, Ursula. Queen Latifah, is a female rapper, actress, and entrepreneur.
A few changes that Disney made in the hybrid production would be to include a few songs from Disney’s Broadway Production of “The Little Mermaid” such as ‘Her Voice’ and ‘If Only’. Giving fans, who had never seen or heard the Broadway soundtrack, the chance to discover it for the very first time.
For all fans of Disney’s “The Little Mermaid”, it is a must to watch “The Little Mermaid Live” to experience film and live theater merge together for a unique experience.