Beloved ‘Little Mermaid’ Star Says Says Bye to Ariel

Ariel and the Little Mermaid
Credit: Walt Disney Studios / Canva

The Little Mermaid (1989) has been a pillar of Disney royalty for years; even the controversial remake with Halle Bailey has a fan following. That being said, Ariel wouldn’t be nearly the treasure she is without her iconic voice.

Ariel in 'The Little Mermaid' singing

Credit: Disney

Disney’s favorite redhead has been renowned for her golden pipes since Jodi Benson sang the first notes of the late Howard Ashman’s music, and it’s been that way for decades. So what would happen if Ariel needed to find a brand new voice?

Related: Disney Censors ‘Aladdin,’ ‘Bluey,’ ‘The Little Mermaid,’ and More for “Woke” Audiences

Many iconic actors and singers got their big break thanks to a famous Disney role; it’s practically a cliche in some circles. From 1989 to now, Jodi Benson has been Ariel’s original voice since she was first put on film. While the Tony-nominated actress and singer has had multiple roles with and without the aid of Disney, she will forever be known as the original Ariel… at least until next year.

“Ariel” Trades Disney Animation for the Broadway Stage

ariel smiles at a dinglehopper little mermaid jodi benson

Credit: Disney

The Little Mermaid might be Jodi Benson’s claim to fame, but she has done far more than play an animated character. Along with being an impeccable voice actress, Benson has also had several roles on the large and small screen and the Broadway stage in productions of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat, Chess, and Crazy for You.

Related: Jodi Benson Asks Fans to Help Save Samuel E. Wright’s Legacy

Benson has won the world over with her marvelous musical talent, but she’s preparing to trade one famous redhead for another in 2024. It was recently announced that she would lead an upcoming limited-run production of Hello Dolly as the titular Dolly Levi.

Dolly Levi singing with the company of Hello Dolly

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Made famous by Carol Channing in the original 1964 production and then Barbara Streisand in the 1969 film, many other great actresses soon assumed the role, including Mary Martin, Pearl Bailey, Bernadette Peters, and Bette Midler. Benson is set to star as the witty and wild matchmaker in the Encore! Performing Arts production in Orlando, Florida, next year.

Related: Melissa McCarthy Teases Sympathetic Villain in ‘The Little Mermaid’: “There’s A Little Ursula In All Of Us”

The official announcement from Playbill reads,

“Tony nominee Jodi Benson, who famously voiced the role of Ariel in the animated Disney film The Little Mermaid, will star in the Encore! Performing Arts production of Jerry Herman’s Hello, Dolly! This summer in Florida. Benson, a Tony nominee for her performance in the Gershwin musical Crazy for You, will play matchmaker Dolly Gallagher Levi, according to the company’s Instagram.”

Benson has not said she is officially retiring from the role, but she has passed the Dinglehopper to her successor, Halle Bailey, after the 2023 remake. Plus, even a limited run of an iconic Broadway play will eat into any performer’s schedule.

Related: Samuel E. Wright, Voice of Sebastian, Passes Away 

While Jodi Benson might have her hands full as a lady who arranges things, that doesn’t mean she will never sing for Ariel again. Like so many iconic voice actors before her, separating the performance from the animated character is practically impossible.

Would you like to see Benson’s performance? Tell us what you think in the comments below!

This post originally appeared on Inside the Magic

About Zach Gass

Zach Gass is a writer from East Tennessee with a passion for all things under the Disney name. From Disney history to the careers of Mickey, Donald, and Goofy, Zach tries to keep his finger on the pulse of the mouse. While he would certainly love to see the parks around the globe, his home park will always be the Magic Kingdom of Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. When he's not rubbing elbows with Mickey, Zach enjoys reading fantasy novels, retro video games, theatre, puppetry, and the films of Tim Burton.

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