TV

This Haunts Me: Shaggy as Sebastian in "The Little Mermaid LIVE!"

Who forgot his claws? Was it you, Shaggy?!

ABC13 Houston

Today's greatest threats to civil society may be climate change, the 2020 presidential election, and live versions of Disney musicals.

Despite the combination of curiosity, nostalgia, and skepticism that keeps viewers tuning in to ABC's live productions of musicals, it's not like we like them. Are we entertained? Surely, but for all the wrong reasons. When The Little Mermaid Live! aired last night, Twitter was interested in how the 1989 beloved classic would be staged before an audience. After all, it's been 30 years since songwriters Alan Menken and Howard Ashman gave the world "Part of Your World," "Kiss the Girl," and "Under the Sea."


What aired was a bogus bastardization of Broadway musical numbers, creepy puppeteering, and a watch party of the original animation, as the "live" musical was a disjointed mix of animated clips and live performances. Even with Queen Latifah breathing life into the production with a sonorous performance as Ursula and a decent, if pitchy, showing from 18-year-old Auli'i Cravahlo (Moana), ABC's constant commercial breaks advertising the upcoming Disney+ streaming platform made it clear that the whole production was just "the most expensive Disney+ ad" made to date.

But above all, what cannot be unseen is Shaggy's role as Sebastian. Yes, the officious, suck-up crab and side kick who represented every nerdy teacher's pet who tried to sit with the popular kids in the cafeteria but ended up a tattle tale by recess. Most notable about his performance as the iconic crab was the fact that Shaggy, rather than matching the staging and rest of the cast's costumes, simply wore red pants and a red, boxy faux leather jacket. Some viewers saw Michael Jackson from Thriller ghost-walking along the bottom of the sea and haunting Ariel, while others saw Shaggy doing a good job playing Sebastian if Sebastian were a 51-year-old philandering reggae singer.

Queen Latifah strutted across the stage with full tentacles, Cravahlo was rendered immobile by Ariel's fish tale for whole scenes, and, oh yeah, children dressed in full red crab costumes scuttled across the stage during John Stamos' harlequin rendition of Chef Louis's "Les Poissons." But Shaggy apparently got a pass.



To be clear, ABC's resident costume guy, Robert Mills, came to his own defense. (Apparently his title is "senior vice president of alternate series, specials, and late-night," but realistically, all we know him as is "the crab costume guy" now). Mills tweeted, "For those wondering, Shaggy wore crab claws in early rehearsals and it looked ridiculous." Then he answered public demand by tweeting a photo of Shaggy wearing the claws behind scenes, closing the loop of the masochism and cartoonish hellscape that is modern entertainment on ABC.

What's worse than Sean Spicer, Trump's former Press Secretary and traitor to the American public, being cast on ABC's Dancing with the Stars? Sean Spicer remaining on Dancing with the Stars because of Trump's encouragement to get his 66.5 million Twitter followers to keep voting for him. And you know what's worse than that? Shaggy cast as Michael Jackson playing Shaggy as Sebastian.

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2020 is on fire.

From the COVID-19 pandemic to the racist police epidemic to freaking murder hornets, let's just throw 2020 out. Yes, the entire year.

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MUSIC

The Newest Little Mermaid Is an Incredible R&B Artist

Halle Bailey is one half of the alternative R&B group Chloe x Halle, who were signed by none other than Beyoncé.

Disney's latest live-action movie will be The Little Mermaid, and the franchise just announced its leading lady—19-year-old Halle Bailey.

The singer and actress initially found fame when her YouTube covers were discovered by Beyoncé, and she's been performing alongside her sister as part of the music group Chloe x Halle since 2013, when the duo were signed to Beyoncé's label, Parkwood Entertainment. Bailey also appeared in Beyoncé's video for "All Night," and apparently, Queen Bey was directly involved in crafting their first album, though the girls write all their material themselves.

little mermaid halle  bailey Image via BBC

Halle Bailey Image via EarthInfoNow

Chloe x Halle's music is effortless, crystalline R&B. It's sensual, enhanced by ethereal backup harmonies and sultry beats—but if you listen closely, you can hear a little bit of the Disney Princess in Bailey's effortless lead vocals, which soar above the instrumentation and keep even songs about heartbreak feeling buoyant and glossy.

Chloe x Halle - Cool People - Official Music Video (Live) www.youtube.com

The duo's latest LP, The Kids Are Alright, is an experimental concept album, broken up by several interludes and full of whimsical songs that bridge the gap between youthful optimism and introspection. They also oscillate between dreamy alt-pop and more traditional hip-hop. Many of the tracks feature nothing but the singers' voices processed over floaty synths, and listening to it, it's not so hard to imagine "Part of Your World" revamped for modern times, set over a pounding kick drum and filled out by deftly engineered harmonies.

Bailey's voice will surely suit Ariel's songs, some of which will be taken from the original animated movie and some of which will be written just for this film. The original songwriter, Alan Menken, will collaborate with Hamilton writer Lin Manuel Miranda to craft several new songs for the live-action version. The movie will be directed by Rob Marshall, and Awkwafina, Jacob Tremblay, and Melissa McCarthy are all in talks to star. The film is expected to begin production in 2020.

As for Bailey, she seems to be riding high on the thrill of this announcement: