Welcome back to another installment of The Little Mermaid 50 Day Art Challenge, where contributor Zach Kenny gives insight to the creation of The Little Mermaid and beyond through his artwork. Be sure to check out the previous installments as well.
Zach Kenny- Like last week, we’re still covering the events after the movie. This week will be the most recent, from 2008-2013, so some of this stuff will probably be still fresh in your minds.
DA7 43: BROADWAY
With the big success of Beauty & the Beast & The Lion King Broadway shows, Disney Theatrical brought a couple more shows near the mid 2000s; Tarzan, Mary Poppins &the Little Mermaid. Since the Little Mermaid had an overall Broadway feel to it already, complete with pro Broadway song writers, this should be fantastic, right? Well… not really. These three shows weren’t as great as the first 2 Broadway shows, letting out an “eh…” feeling. Let’s see why in TLM’s case:
WHAT’S GOOD: The classic music & songs from the original are back, & they’re always a treat to listen to. Some of the new songs aren’t half-bad like “Her Voice”, “She’s in Love” & “Human Stuff”. Triton & Ursula are brother & sister again & Ursula’s backstory is explained fully than the movie did. Eric’s backstory & his princely duties are also further explained. The costumes for the merpeople work well, & using wheely sneakers works as well. The voice of Jafar, Johnathan Freeman, played Grimsby. (Nothing much, it’s just one of those “Really? How ‘bout that?” things) & finally, Sierra Boggess is perfect as Ariel, she has the character down perfectly.
WHAT’S BAD: Scuttle now has a quartet bird friends (Jungle Book vultures, much?) & sounds too much like Joe Pesci. Ursula’s too lounge singer like & too hammy, not how Pat Carroll put it, “a Shakespearian actress with flair, flamboyance & theatricality”. (heck,the understudy was more like the real Ursula). The ending? Good god, it’s so different from the film’s ending AND the original ending! There’s now a singing contest for Eric to find the girl, Ursula shows up, takes the trident & while she gloats, Ariel destroys the shell, also destroying Ursula. B&TB had a more realistic look, Lion King had an African tribal look, TLM is too fairytale book. Now with Shrek the Musical (which came out the same year), it takes the fantasy looking element to the right level, but still looking realistic. TLM has… no level of realism aside from the actors. This creates the allusion of a living candlestick. This gives the allusion thatthese are 2 lions. Does this give the allusion that these are a crab & a fish? No, it just looks like 2 people dressed fancy. To put it short, a short TLM show put on it Tuchman& a Snow White show at Disneyland look more professional.
The musical opened January 10th, 2008 & closed August 30th, 2009. If it had more tooling & adjustments, this could have been fantastic. Not to say it’s bad. For what it is, it’s decent, but too much wasn’t handled right. As for the drawing, I decided to make it similar to Broadway caricaturist Squigs’ approach for drawings, mostly his Lion King drawing. Not done in his Al Hirschfield style, just in the same kind of staging. I’ve done a couple of high school drama shirts in the past, so I’m no stranger to this.
DAY 44: JOHN TRAVOLTA
This is probably the strangest entry for this project. & the fact that it’s near the final 10 is the real big shocker. While looking up stuff for the Broadway picture, I found out that John Travolta, star of such movies like Saturday Night Fever, Pulp Fiction &Grease is apparently a big fanboy of this movie. He got his daughter Ella & 26 of his daughter’s friends front-row seats to see the TLM Broadway show in May 2008, the same year Johnny boy starred in Disney’s 48th film, Bolt. He was so into the show, he was singing along to all the songs. (Don’t think he’s crazy, we’ve ALL done it.) The whole group was able to go backstage & apparently John was “touching all the costumes, looking so amazed & staying there for a while”; sounds like he was like a kid in a candy store.
When coming up for the picture, figuring out the execution was quite a predicament. That is until I found this Halloween pic of Travolta, &and once I did, light bulb! So I tookthis concept art of Ursula & Ariel, just putting Travolta in the sea witch’s place.
DAY 45: VOYAGE OF THE LITTLE MERMAID
Now time to talk about the park attractions. To start off, we have Voyage of the Little Mermaid; a 15-minute live stage show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It opened in 1992 (back when it was called MGM Studios) at the Animation Courtyard, replacing a short-lived Muppets show called “Here Come the Muppets”. It’s a pretty good show if you’ve visiting the ALSO 25-years old park. It briefly tells the story of the film, using live actors, puppetry, special effects & the classic music. It opens with Under the Sea, Ariel sings “Part of That World”, Ursula makes her deal with Ariel, a montage of various points afterward, Ariel’s wish is granted, the end. It’s brief, but it IS a park attraction. The puppetry is really neat to see how it works, all done in black light. & the Ursula puppet is 12 ft. high & 10 ft. wide. The Ariel you get can vary, since there are many obviously many different actresses; there’s actually a whole YouTube channel full of them. The only real change the show had is Ariel’s tail, going from stuffed controlled via string to more flowy, scaley & controlled by the actresses’ legs. There have been rumors that it may be replaced with a Phineas & Ferb show, but who knows? Either way, it’s a pretty good attraction for Hollywood Studios.
DAY 46: ARIEL’S UNDERSEA ADVENTURE
This may seem like a basic attraction that started near 2009 something, but this actually more than that. During the early 1990s, the Disney Imagineers (the people who work specifically for Disneyland, Walt Disney World & all the other parks) began thinking “what if we made a Little Mermaid ride?” They began making concept art, models of the track & exterior & all that stuff, but it had to be scrapped for multiple reasons; where could it be placed, what kind of technology for certain parks, etc. It seems like it could’ve been forgotten, BUT when the 2006 Platinum DVD came out, they put as a special feature, a virtual stimulation of what the ride could’ve been like, almost similar to Peter Pan’s Flight.
Then when DCA started its enhancements & when the Magic Kingdom started it’s expansion to Fantasyland, both decided to bring it back. According to the Imagineers & the filmmakers, it’s actually better they put the ride off, since they’re now more advanced than they were back then. The California ride opened June 3, 2011 & the Magic Kingdom ride opened December 6, 2012. Ours’ in Florida (yeah, I’m a Floridian) has a much better queue looking DIRECTLY from the film instead of just a dome, but California is more black-lit like the other Disney dark rides. So, this ride has more to it than you thought “made on the spot” kinda deal. Neat isn’t it? So if you happen to be in California or Florida, hop aboard a clam shell & take a visit!
DAY 47: OUR FAMILY’S MEET-&-GREET EXPERIENCE
As a child or an adult, we’ve all had interesting meet-and-greet experiences with the characters from any of the Disney parks. Maybe you’re friend happens to be a cast member, maybe you helped open the parks one morning, maybe you saw a once-in-a-lifetime slip-up, maybe you were the kid who got beat up by Tigger. Whatever the reason, we’ve all had at least one of those out-of-the-ordinary experience that we’ll always remember. So for this #flashbackfriday, I decided to share one of mine.
Almost a decade ago, when I was 10 years old, my family went on our “before the summer crowds” Disney trip in May. Our formula usually was Animal Kingdom/MGM Studios one day, Magic Kingdom the next, go home. During our Magic Kingdom day, we decided to go to Ariel’s Grotto. We never been there before (closest we got was seeing the air view from Dumbo) and thought “Why not? We got time.” So we waited on line, played a bit on the spongey fountains & finally got to meet Ariel. What could possibly go wrong? Well… our autograph book was wet. We had it in this lunchbox/cooler combo and it seems that something leaked; it wasn’t ruined, it just got damp. Naturally, me, my little sister & (at the time) baby brother were a little bummed, but… “Now, these are my kind of humans! They get us mer-folk!” Ariel chimes! That just goes to show how on-the-spot these Disney cast members can be! So she signed, we got special stickers & here’s the photo me, Grace & Jack posed with from that 2005 afternoon! (I’m the one in red) Being from 2005, it looked very dull, so I enhanced it in Photoshop.
DAY 48: DISNEY LEGENDS
The Disney Legends Awards is an honor given to anyone who’s had a great contribution to the Disney company, whatever it is they may do. & one of the ceremonies was held at the 2011 D23 Expo. There was Regis Philbin, Guy Williams, Jack & Bonita Wrather, Ray Watson & Bo Boyd, but the biggest show-stealers were 2 things: one was a tribute to Jim Henson & a line-up of the Disney Princesses. There was Anika Noni Rose (Tiana from the Princess & the Frog), Linda Larkin (speaking voice of Princess Jasmine in Aladdin), Lea Salonga (singing voices for Jasmine & Mulan), Paige O’Hara (Belle from Beauty & the Beast) & of course, Jodi Benson (you should know who she is at this point). They even sung their characters’ famous songs after their speeches were given. So here’s simply a group picture of all the lovely ladies who were inducted.
DAY 49: THE FLOATING PALACE
Now we’ve got the most recent thing associated with TLM’s franchise. I haven’t really seen much of Sofia the First, but from what I have seen, it seems more sophisticated & proper about actual royalty than the Princess Diaries movies, & obviously a lot better than Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. It started as a book series by Catherine Hapka/Grace Lee & soon became a TV regular series on Disney Junior. One of the TV specials to come from Disney’s youngest princess is The Floating Palace.
Sofia & her royal family are floating on the sea. She helps a mermaid child named Oona, who comes from a place called Merroway Cove, getting out of a net. She then turns herself into a mermaid & decidesto explore the ocean with her. They find Merroway Cove & see the queen of the cove isn’t fond of humans. (Sound familiar?) Sofia’s butler is somehow turned to a sea creature & begins to attack the land below. There’s a “person A thinks person B did it, person B thinks person A did it” with the humans & merfolks, making Sofia feel terrible with herself, until Ariel shows up & helps Sofia get her confidence back. Then everything is resolved & land & sea are at peace… for a third time.
Tthat concludes our seventh week. I hope you’ll join us next Mon- wait. Next Monday is the 17th. You know what that means: IT’S OUR GRAND FINALE!!!!