In early November of 2019, the highly-anticipated television production of ‘The Little Mermaid Live!’ aired and let’s just say – it got mixed reviews.
The two-hour ABC performance was to celebrate the iconic Disney movie’s 30th anniversary and boasted a stellar cast including John Stamos, Shaggy, and Queen Latifah. Unfortunately, the television special was lackluster and even received criticism about how underwhelming and ‘funny’ it was. There was one performance, however, that stole the entire show – Queen Latifah as Ursula.
The entire television production kicked off with an introduction by Jodi Benson who was the original voice of Ariel the mermaid in the animated movie. Actress Auli’i Cravalho played Ariel during the live performance – donning the long red wig and shimmering green mermaid tail.YouTube Source: YouTube
At first, fans were quick to take to Twitter and mock Shaggy’s costume – he played Sebastian the crab but seemed to have lacked any claws.YouTube Source: YouTube
Other fans were very disappointed with the special effects and felt that the production team could have done so much better. And as the criticism continued to roll in – there was a surprise in store that no one saw coming.
The moment came in the television special where Ursula, played by 59-year-old Queen Latifah, descended onto the stage to perform the spine-tingling song “Poor Unfortunate Souls” – the moment in the movie where Ursula takes Ariel’s voice in exchange for human legs.YouTube Source: YouTube
Here is a look and listen at the original animated Disney version for reference:
In Ursula’s modern rendition of the song, Queen Latifah replaced some of the movie’s questionable and disturbing lyrics with new, palatable ones.
“It’s she who holds her tongue that gets a man,” is one of the original lines that was changed, however, Queen Latifah still played one of the best Disney villains ever to perform on stage.
Dressed up in purple velvet tentacles, a bright white wig, and a gold shell necklace, Queen Latifah plays Ursula to a ‘T’ and her voice during the performance is absolutely spot on.YouTube Source: YouTube
Her powerful voice mesmerized the audience while her giant purple tentacles moved and twisted around her.YouTube Source: YouTube
After singing the last few bars of the song, Ursula rips open her purple velvet dress to reveal a tight-fitting, black latex down with a plunging neckline and long train. Just like in the movie, Latifah walks across the ‘room’ and picks up an eel to wear as a boa around her neck.YouTube Source: YouTube
Despite being disappointed with the rest of the television performance of the classic Disney movie, Twitter users couldn’t help but share their love for Queen Latifah’s character and performance.
YouTube Source: YouTube
“Queen Latifah is an actual goddess,” wrote one Twitter user.
“ #QueenLatifah made my night. Knew she’d be great; absolutely blew me away!” said another.
“ @IAMQUEENLATIFAH is a gosh dang National treasure and we should all worship at her feet. omg didn’t think I could love her more but she just made #LittleMermaidLive,” praised another user.
I think we have a clear winner when it comes to the best performance of the show that night. The Little Mermaid will always be held in our hearts as an absolute classic but for now? Let’s lay off the remakes and television renditions, shall we? Thank you to Queen Latifah, though, for saving it before it completely crashed and burned.
Watch Ursula’s full performance of “Poor Unfortunate Souls” in the video below.