Disney’s death march through its own archives in search of animated masterpieces to transform into live-action films has reached The Little Mermaid, the 1989 movie that kicked off the Disney Renaissance. On Wednesday, the company announced that it had cast the lead role: Halle Bailey, half of R&B sister act Chloe x Halle, will play Ariel in director Rob Marshall’s remake of the classic animated movie, Variety reports. Jodi Benson voiced the role in the original film.
Bailey, who can currently be seen on Freeform’s Black-ish spinoff Grown-ish, is no stranger to remakes; her first screen appearance was in the 2006 Queen Latifah vehicle Last Holiday, originally a film from 1950 starring Alec Guinness. This time around, she’ll be joining Jacob Tremblay and Awkwafina, who have already been announced as Ariel’s friends Flounder and Scuttle, respectively. (Since Scuttle is a seagull and Flounder is a fish, her co-star’s “live-action” appearances probably won’t involve actually appearing.) Melissa McCarthy is in talks to play Ursula, the villainous sea witch who offers Ariel a chance at life on the land. That means the crucial roles of Sebastian the crab and Louis the French chef are still wide open, which is as good a reason as any to revisit their face-off from the original film. Coincidentally, it’s a great showcase for the expressive animation style Disney is running away from in their pursuit of live-action realism:
The new film will feature the Alan Menken / Howard Ashman songs from the original movie, as well as new songs by Menken and Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda. Meanwhile, Bailey is already getting props from the other Halle B.:
While we’re waiting for the movie to arrive, the original Hans Christian Andersen story—which ends rather badly for the little mermaid—can be read in an English translation here.