Disney diehards were treated to a short preview of R&B singer and actress Halle Bailey’s performance as Ariel Friday when the studio released the first official teaser for the forthcoming live-action remake of the beloved 1989 animated musical, The Little Mermaid.
The clip displays the film’s dazzling underwater effects before ultimately revealing the 22 year-old in full mermaid regalia as she belts out a short segment from the film’s most iconic song, “Part of Your World.”
“That sequence was the most beautiful experience of my life, really,” Bailey said of filming “Part of Your World” during Disney’s biennial D23 Expo, currently taking place at the Anaheim Convention Center.
Directed by Rob Marshall, the film is also set to star Javier Bardem, Awkwafina, Jacob Tremblay and Melissa McCarthy and will hit theaters May 26, 2023.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the new iteration of the Disney classic will feature four new songs — but Marshall expressed that his love of the original film’s soundtrack, which also includes fan favorites like “Under the Sea” and “Kiss the Girl,” inspired his take on the project: “When it opened in 1989 … musicals were gone,” he said of the animated Little Mermaid. “Even though it was animated, we could hear people singing at movies again.”
Along with The Little Mermaid teaser, convention attendees were also given a sneak peek at Mufasa: The Lion King, which serves as a prequel to the original Lion King story, and Disney’s live-action Snow White remake, starring Rachel Zegler and Gal Gadot.
News of Bailey’s casting as Ariel initially drew ire from some Disney fans, who took issue with a Black actress embodying the role of the fictional princess. The Grammy Award nominee addressed the controversy in an interview with Variety last month.
“I want the little girl in me and the little girls just like me who are watching to know that they’re special, and that they should be a princess in every single way,” she said. “There’s no reason that they shouldn’t be. That reassurance was something that I needed.”