I lie on my bed at 2am, hearing the overture to The Little Mermaid over and over and over again. In case anyone hasn’t been following, the teaser trailer for The Little Mermaid remake has dropped, plus a tweet has circulated, containing an extended clip of Halle Bailey performing the definitive ‘I Want’ song that lyricist Howard Ashman coined for Disney movies. Since seeing them, so many memories flooded back to when I was a teenager who was hyper fixated on the film and the broadway show. Looking back now, there are a number of reasons why the story was so dear to me, and why seeing a new rendition is just as important, if not more, to present-day-Carrie.

Yes, past Disney remakes have left much to be desired. In my eyes, the closest we ever got to a decent remake, that doesn’t include the 101 Dalmatians remake starring Glenn Close (which is still the best remake Disney has ever made), was 2017’s Beauty and the Beast. The spectacle, the orchestrations, Luke Evans as Gaston, Emma Thompson singing the titular song, made my heart swell. However, one cannot look over the fact Emma Watson sounded like a robot, and that was before she started singing. To me, that movie was close but no cigar. I just wanted to clarify my standpoint on remakes before people think I am this naive soul who has not been burned by these disappointments, because I have.

The reasons behind my excitement for this remake is more than just me getting to hear and watch the story again. Before I say why, I need to give some context. Back when I was 17, I found the 2008 Broadway Cast Recording of The Little Mermaid starring now-Broadway legend, Sierra Boggess. Those who know me well know the full extent to how much I loved her. I paid almost $150 for a ticket to be third-row-from-the-front from her in a Broadway musical. I wrote a letter to her detailing how she inspired me to be a soprano, and how her performance in the 25th anniversary Phantom of the Opera concert changed my life and how I wanted to be recognised in musical theatre.

Whilst her being an inspiration was a factor for me trying to squeak those top-Es to my singing teacher, there was more at play. Since coming out as non-binary in 2020, I’ve had a lot of time thinking through how I performed gender growing up, particularly in my teen years. See, I was forcing this ingenue persona onto myself; wearing pretty dresses, painting the most fabulous make-up, hitting those high notes, and maintain that Disney voice (more specifically, Boggess’s light and sweet tones as Ariel) that I adored so much as a child. On reflection, it was not what I wanted – because I liked being hyper-feminine not for myself, but for others. However, I was receiving all this positive feedback about my looks, how could I possibly go against the grain and do… something else?

I flick back to my trip to Denmark this year, where I went to the Hans Christian Andersen museum. Near the end of the exhibition we see this beautiful soundscape and imagery about The Ugly Duckling. A voiceover plays, an actor portraying HCA, saying (and I am paraphrasing) “The Ugly Duckling is about me feeling I was born in a world that wasn’t ready for me”. And I deeply felt that to my core. Hans Christian Andersen told stories like The Ugly Duckling and The Little Mermaid as a way to communicate his longing for being accepted for being gay. I remember walking past love letters and mementos from loves that could never be public or recognised by law because they were not ‘man and woman’.

Coming back to The Little Mermaid, I think it hits the sweet spot of having those classic Disney plot points. But when thinking about it a little deeper, Ariel has this deep need for change. She does not feel she belongs in the world and body she was born in, and wants to be part of a world that will let her explore that other part of herself. Yes, there is a handsome man and saucy sea witch along the way, but to me that was irrelevant. Deep down, I think I found this deep connection with the feeling that I was trapped in a life that I didn’t want. When I was singing Part of Your World in front of my class, it was a part of me trying to scream out that I wanted to drop the act and just be who I am.

In short, the reason I am excited for this remake is because I am ready to embrace the story, and this time being out of the closet. I will get to watch Ariel realise she needs to be who she is, as someone who has made that journey to be out and proud. I am ready for the new changes that life brings, as well as the artistic changes that I am sure Disney will for The Little Mermaid. Halle Bailey will bring a beautiful, powerful change for all kinds of people across the world. Because, like me, the world has changed. We have the old stories and memories of the Ariel we know and love, now it is time to welcome a new perspective.


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