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The Little Mermaid Live! star Auli’i Cravalho says Jodi Benson, who voiced Ariel in the original 1989 animated film, is “like a fairy godmother in a way”
When it comes to playing The Little Mermaid‘s Ariel in ABC’s live special, Auli’i Cravalho has the most magical mentor.
Ahead of the ABC’s The Little Mermaid Live! on Tuesday, the 18-year-old actress opened up to PEOPLE about the sweet advice she received from Ariel herself, Jodi Benson.
“I’ve spoken to Jodi and she’s an absolute dream,” Cravalho said of Benson, who voiced Ariel in the original 1989 animated film. “I actually met her a few years ago at D23, which is a wonderful Disney convention, and I remember her just telling me — and this is before, of course, anything about me playing Ariel — she said that Ariel had changed her life and I should ‘buckle up, buttercup’ because everything is about to change and about to be so magical and amazing.”“And it truly has been,” she continued. “And she’s wonderful! She’s kind of been, I mean, to quote yet another Disney movie, she’s kind of like a fairy godmother in a way, because she’s known these characters for so long and she’s always there to give a little bit of advice. I’ll speak to her after the show and hopefully, you know, we’ll get together for lunch and we can say, ‘Oh my gosh, this is what you did when you played Ariel! And this is what I did!’”
Of course, Cravalho is no stranger to the weight of a Disney princess’s crown: She voiced the titular character in the 2016 smash Moana.
On Tuesday, ABC will honor the 30th anniversary of The Little Mermaid with a live special that will be performed in front of an audience on the Disney lot as the original movie is shown on a giant projection.
Fans have been anxiously awaiting the special since it was announced in 2017. In August, ABC confirmed the project’s air date, and in the months since, the network has unveiled the star-studded cast that would be headlining the special, including Queen Latifah as sea witch Ursula, Shaggy as Jamaican crab Sebastian, John Stamos as Chef Louis, and Graham Phillips as Prince Eric.
According to ABC, the special will “take viewers on a magical adventure under the sea as live musical performances by a star-studded cast will be interwoven into the broadcast of the original feature film.”
Glee alumna Amber Riley will host the special as the appropriately-named Emcee, and Benson will be making an appearance as well.
The Wonderful World of Disney presents The Little Mermaid Live! will air Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET, live on ABC.