Disney reach out to transgender actors to play Eric and Ariel in new Little Mermaid stage show

Disney World have opened up auditions for actors to play the roles of Ariel and Prince Eric in a new stage show of The Little Mermaid – and the casting call makes it clear that they also want to hear from trans performers.

The new show will be staged at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida, replacing the previous show Voyage of the Little Mermaid which ran from 1992 to 2020.

According to multiple online sources, Disney is holding auditions in New York, with the call out for actors listing its requirements as follows: “18 to 30 years old, white woman, transgender woman. 5’2″ – 5’6″. A spirited, fun-loving, yet curious mermaid princess who longs to be a part of the human world. Lyrical pop soprano with belt to C.”

Similarly, the listing for Eric states that they are looking for a “white man, transgender man” between the ages of 18 and 30 who is “charismatic and fearless”.

A photo of the casting call was shared online by Walt Disney World News Today (WDW News Today) on 5 July.

A photo of what seems to be the casting call sheet used to recruit actors for The Little Mermaid – A Musical Adventure (WDW News Today)

The revamped show will be launched in fall 2024 at the Animation Courtyard Theatre, with Disney saying that it will include “physical and projected puppetry, including blacklight puppets paired with motion capture technology, which is used to create movies today”.

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The show is said to blend “the line between real and digital in ways we’ve never done before to completely fill the stage for these show-stopping scenes” as human actors perform together with animated characters.

Despite what appears to be a very inclusive and positive casting announcement allowing trans artists to get their chance to perform at Walt Disney World, some people are predictably angry about the news.

One person wrote on X that “whoever is in charge at Disney should be fired” and even suggested that the person who green lit the potential casting of a trans actor is “purposely trying to bankrupt Disney”.

Another person said that Disney “hasn’t been friendly to children in a long time. In fact, it is a hot bed of paedophiles”. The notion that LGBTQ+ people and their allies are engaging in child grooming or enabling child sexual abuse is a far-right conspiracy theory and anti-LGBTQ+ dog whistle. 

A third said that the casting announcement was actually discriminating against “real men and women”.

Several other comments said they would no longer be supporting Disney and its “woke” casting and that they would be getting rid of their annual passes to the parks.

Others questioned another aspect of the announcement – namely why the actors had to be white, particularly when the recent live-action remake of The Little Mermaid released by Disney had Halle Bailey, a black actress, playing the lead role.

PinkNews has reached out to Disney Parks for comment.

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