I was so jealous of everyone who got to see The Little Mermaid at Hollywood Bowl on Monday because the original voice of Ariel, Jodi Benson, headlined that night. At least we got a small taste of her still-amazing-after-30-years voice at the show we attended on Saturday, where she was the surprise guest. She's an infinitely better singer than Sara Bareilles, who at least looked the part of the Little Mermaid, with her long, wavy tresses colored red halfway down and wearing a sea foam green dress. I even overheard a little girl yelling "Look, it's Ariel!"
What we didn't miss on Monday was Alan Menken's pre-show (in Monday's show he was replaced by Brad Kane - original voice of Aladdin - and Susan Egan - voice of Meg from Hercules). On piano, Menken performed a career retrospective with songs from Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, Pocahontas, Little Shop of Horrors, Newsies, and Enchanted, just to name a few. I almost teared up a little, listening to the man who penned so many soundtracks from Disney Animation's golden age, when not only were the films great, but so were all the songs. During that era, animated films saw success at the box office and on the radio.
The celebrity guests also impressed, from Rebel Wilson's sassy turn as Ursula (in an amazing black shimmery dress that I could definitely picture Ursula wearing) to Titus Burgess' exuberant performance (I didn't know he had originated the role of Sebastian in the Broadway show. No wonder he was so good!).
Sadly, John Stamos' badly placed microphone prevented us from getting the full experience of his song, Les Poissons, but, amazingly, the audience stayed respectfully quiet so that everyone could hear him. His hilarious stage antics made up for the misplacement of his microphone.
I hope the success of this show convinces Disney to have more of their animated films in concert. I'm hoping for Aladdin next summer. However, they really ought to do Beauty and the Beast to promote their new live action film.