Jodi Benson, original Ariel actress, opens ABC's 'Little Mermaid' live special

BURBANK, Calif. -- ABC's partially live presentation of "The Little Mermaid" kicked off with a familiar voice on Tuesday evening as Jodi Benson -- the actress who voiced Ariel in the original 1989 animated classic -- took the stage to kick off the telecast.

"I'm so thrilled to be here. I can't believe it's been over three decades since I sang 'Part of Your World' for our new, exciting Disney animated musical called 'The Little Mermaid,'" Benson began.

She continued on to describe how the show would play out: "Tonight we celebrate our 30th anniversary of one of the most beloved Disney films of all time with a unique musical presentation: half our original film, half live spectacle, but 100 percent pure Disney magic."

Benson performed as both Ariel's singing and speaking voice in the 1989 animated film. Though she was not advertised as a cast member for Tuesday night's program, Benson had announced on Facebook earlier in the week that she would be participating in the special.

"The Wonderful World of Disney presents The Little Mermaid Live!" stars Auli'i Cravalho as Ariel, Queen Latifah as Ursula, Shaggy as Sebastian, John Stamos as Chef Louis and Graham Phillips as Prince Eric.

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