Jodi Benson attended the world premiere for The Little Mermaid in LA on May 8 (Picture: Disney via AP/Getty)
*Contains slight spoilers for The Little Mermaid live-action remake*
Happy release day to The Little Mermaid and all Disney fans who will be flipping their fins to the cinema to see the studio’s latest lavish ‘reimagining’ of one of its most popular titles in 2023.
The Little Mermaid first hit screens as an animation in 1989 and is credited with saving the fortunes of the company and ushering in the so-called ‘Disney Renaissance’ thanks to its huge success.
Nominated for three Oscars courtesy of its glorious music from Alan Menken and lyricist Howard Ashman, and winning two of the highly coveted statuettes, the pair went on to lend their talent to other Disney hits across the next decade, including Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin.
Jodi Benson was the original voice actress for the little mermaid herself, Ariel, having heard of the auditions through her connection on Broadway with Ashman after they worked together on the show Smile.
A Tony nominee in 1992 for Crazy For You, Benson has voiced Ariel in numerous other projects over the years, including theme park rides, video games, TV shows and direct-to-video sequels.
She is also the voice of Barbie in the Toy Story movies.
Is Jodi Benson in the 2023 Little Mermaid remake?
Disney’s animated The Little Mermaid was released in 1989 (Picture: Disney/Snap/Shutterstock)
Disney fans were delighted to see Benson on the blue carpet at The Little Mermaid live-action remake’s world premiere in Los Angeles in early May.
The actress is one of the studio’s most popular voice artists, in large part due to her iconic rendition of Part of Your World.
In 2011, she became an official Disney Legend as part of the company’s hall of fame programme, which recognises individuals who have made ‘an extraordinary and integral contribution’ to the company.
With the release of the new version of The Little Mermaid, of course Disney wanted to involve Benson in some way, alongside a cast including Javier Bardem, Melissa McCarthy and Daveed Diggs.
Benson is one of the most popular Disney voice stars (Picture: Getty)
Pictured her in 1997, Benson has been voicing Ariel for decades now in various projects (Picture: Bob Riha Jr/WireImage)
The 61-year-old has a prominent cameo as a market vendor in a scene where Prince Eric (Jonah Hauer-King) is taking Ariel on a tour of his island.
Becoming very excited by all the stalls’ sights and smells, Ariel is offered food to eat by Benson who then – drumroll please – follows it up with a fork.
In the new movie, Benson makes a cameo as a market vendor (Picture: Giles Keyte/Disney)
As all good Disney fans know, this is a dinglehopper as far as Ariel is concerned, thanks to Scuttle’s suspect knowledge of the human world.
So, you can imagine what happens next…
Who plays Ariel in the live-action Little Mermaid film?
Halle Bailey plays Ariel this time around, pictured with Jonah Hauer-King as Prince Eric (Picture: Disney via AP)
The latest actress to play Ariel is 23-year-old five-time Grammy nominated singer Halle Bailey.
It’s a star-making turn for her, and Benson was full of praise for her when they shared a sweet hug and reunion at the film’s premiere.
She told Entertainment Tonight on the red carpet of Bailey: ‘She doesn’t need any advice from me, she’s brilliant! I did get to meet her a few time and chat with her and just to tell her how proud I was of her.
Bailey and Benson enjoyed a sweet reunion at the film’s premiere (Picture: Getty)
‘But I love that she has a purity of heart and a pure spirit and you can see that vulnerability and that childlike [quality] and that bravery and courage coming through, and it’s beautiful.’
‘I’m so thrilled for her and I’m so proud of her,’ she added.
The Little Mermaid is in cinemas now.
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