Now 30, ‘The Little Mermaid’ paved the way for Elsa and Anna
By MARK KENNEDY
AP Entertainment Writer
Tuesday, March 19
NEW YORK (AP) — It’s not uncommon for people to just look at Jodi Benson and burst into tears.
Sometimes they hyperventilate or scream. But mostly they break down and start sobbing. Benson will hold them, heaving in her arms, and pat their back gently.
Benson isn’t a household name but for many she’s an intimate part of their childhood. She supplied the singing and speaking voice of Ariel, the heroine of the 1989 animated Disney hit “The Little Mermaid,” which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.
Benson says she will sometimes watch as the stunned movie’s fans virtually go back in time in front of her. “It triggers a memory for them,” she says.
“They remember who they were with when they saw the movie the first time. Maybe that sibling is no longer with them, that grandparent is no longer with them. It reminds them of a relationship that had been broken with a parent. So they have all sorts of emotions that go on.”
“The Little Mermaid ” has changed a lot of lives, not least of which is Benson’s, who has continued to perform Ariel virtually every weekend in concerts as well as on film in the “Wreck-It Ralph” franchise.
“The Little Mermaid” also had a big role in making Disney into an animation juggernaut and reviving the art form. Many believe we’d never have Anna and Elsa from “Frozen” without first having Ariel.
“Disney was starting to get into a groove that would continue, but I feel like a lot of that started with ‘A Little Mermaid,’” says Ron Clements, who co-wrote and co-directed the film.
Benson was a rising Broadway star when Ariel came into her orbit. She had been in a short-lived musical “Smile” when Howard Ashman, the musical’s lyricist and story writer, invited the out-of-work cast to audition for his next project, an adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid.”
Producers wanted the singing and speaking voice to be supplied by the same actress. So Benson, a lyric soprano, sang the signature “Part of Your World” on a reel-to-reel tape and was handed a few of pages of dialogue.
“I ran into the ladies’ room,” she recalls “and waited for everybody to get out of the stalls and started talking to the mirror, sort of trying to come up with what would she sound like at 16.”
Benson, it turned out, was a master mimic. She had spent countless hours in her room as a child with her guitar, singing along to records by Barbra Streisand, Carole King, James Taylor as well as Marvin Hamlisch’s “A Chorus Line.”
“I would start to just sing like them. But it wasn’t like I was trying to be them. It’s just that’s what I heard. And so that’s just what you do. You just sound like what you been listening to,” she says.
A year or so after auditioning for Ariel, she got the call that she’d won the role. “I completely forgot that I had auditioned,” she says. Back then, voiceover work wasn’t very glamorous and big celebrities wouldn’t consider it.
“It wasn’t a good job. Doing voiceovers was what you would do when your career was on the back half, when it was tanking,” says Benson. She thought Ariel would be just another notch on her resume. It was not.
“Things just changed overnight,” she says.
Propelled by such Alan Menken songs as “Under the Sea” and “Kiss the Girl,” the film won two Grammys and earned three Academy Award nominations. It was critically acclaimed, with Roger Ebert calling it a “jolly and inventive animated fantasy,” and would go to earn $211 million worldwide. Parents of children with learning disabilities have told Benson their child’s first words were from the film.
A live-action remake is in the works, featuring new songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who created “Hamilton.” He loved the 1989 animated film so much its partly the reason he named his first child Sebastian — the mermaid’s crab friend.
It was the kind of hit that Clements and his animators at Disney had long been hoping for. He had started at Disney in 1974 and was part of a new generation of artists trying to change the notion that animation was just for kids.
Clements had pitched a two-page treatment of the musical to then-studio head Michael Eisner and was given the green light. For Clements and his partner, John Musker, the stakes were high: It was the first fairy tale Disney had done for some three decades.
“There was a feeling — all through ‘Little Mermaid’ — that this film had potential to be the film that could break through and work the way we were all hungry for and hoping for,” recalls Clements, who went on to co-direct “Aladdin” and “Hercules.”
“It was really, really gratifying that it did break through. It broke through the stigma that animated films were just for kids. It became a date movie. People started taking Disney animation seriously again.”
Over the past 30 years, Ariel has become the bridge between classic princesses like Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty and modern ones like Mulan and Merida. And Benson has become the official Ariel ambassador, tapped to do sequels, video games and shorts, in addition to voicing other characters like Barbie in the “Toy Story” franchise.
Her arms are always open to fans and she’s now welcoming the fourth generation to “The Little Mermaid.” So feel free to cry on her shoulder.
“It doesn’t feel like a job. It just feels like a way of life more than more than anything else,” she says. “You have this multigenerational moment that families can share together. And I get to be a small piece of the puzzle of their story.”
Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits
Due to a scheduling conflict, the Pilobolus performance at the Ohio Theatre on March 26 has been cancelled. Tickets purchased through Ticketmaster, either online or by phone, will be automatically refunded. All other tickets can be refunded at the place of purchase.
Award-Winning Writer D.A. Powell to Visit Ohio Wesleyan April 4
DELAWARE, Ohio – Poet, filmmaker, and artist D.A. Powell is known for his concentration on contemporary culture and topics related to the AIDS crisis. Of his work, New York Times critic Stephen Burt has said, “No accessible poet of his generation is half as original, and no poet as original is this accessible.”
Powell will read his poetry at Ohio Wesleyan University at 4 p.m. April 4 in Room 301 of Merrick Hall, 65 S. Sandusky St., Delaware. His presentation is free and open to public.
Of his writings, Publishers Weekly shared in a starred review, “Powell, with his range of form and line, his dark but vivid humor, and his commitment to Romantic traditions, is set apart.”
Born in Albany, Georgia, Powell now lives and teaches in San Francisco, California. He is noted for his unique style of “subverting the page.”
Realizing that his students tended to write to fit the size of the page, Powell taught them to turn their legal pads sideways to escape these artificial limits. He used the technique himself in writing about AIDS sufferers in his poetry collection, “Tea.”
“[B]y pulling the line longer, stretching it into a longer breath,” he explains, “I was giving a little bit more life to some people who had very short lives.”
During his career, Powell has earned the National Books Critics Circle Award in Poetry, the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, the Lyric Poetry Award from the Poetry Society of America, the Paul Engle Fellowship from the James Michener Center, and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
He studied at Sonoma State University, where he received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Later, he received his master’s in fine arts at Iowa Writers Workshop. Learn more about D.A Powell at https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poet/d-powell.
Powell’s presentation is Ohio Wesleyan’s 2019 Katherine Kearney Carpenter Lecture sponsored by the OWU Department of English.
The lecture series was established in 1967 by late O. William Carpenter in honor of his wife. Previous Carpenter lecturers include National Book Award winner Ta-Nehisi Coates, Nobel Prize-winning poet and playwright Derek Walcott, and iconic novelist Kurt Vonnegut.
Learn more at www.owu.edu/english.
Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier liberal arts universities. Located in Delaware, Ohio, the private university offers more than 90 undergraduate majors and competes in 25 NCAA Division III varsity sports. Through Ohio Wesleyan’s signature OWU Connection program, students integrate knowledge across disciplines, build a diverse and global perspective, and apply their knowledge in real-world settings. Ohio Wesleyan is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives” and included in the U.S. News & World Report and Princeton Review “best colleges” lists. Learn more at www.owu.edu.
CAPA and the Lincoln Theatre Association Partner to Celebrate the Lincoln’s 10th Anniversary with a Free Community Open House April 14
As part of its year-long 50th anniversary celebration, CAPA has partnered with the Lincoln Theatre Association to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Lincoln Theatre’s grand reopening with a free community open house on Sunday, April 14. Since its reopening in 2009 after a $13.5 million, CAPA-led renovation, the Lincoln Theatre has become a multi-use, state-of-the-art performing arts and education center impacting the community through its educational programming and incubation of local artists. This free open house event will offer live performances from Lincoln incubation artists and resident arts groups, as well as hands-on children’s activities, a visual art display of works from local artists, and complimentary refreshments.
CAPA and the Lincoln Theatre Association present the Lincoln Theatre’s 10th Anniversary Community Open House at the Lincoln Theatre (769 E. Long St.) on Sunday, April 14, from 2-5 pm. Admission is free, and seating is general admission.
CAPA’s 50th anniversary celebration is made possible through the generous support of the American Electric Power Foundation and Nationwide, with special support provided by Huntington Bank.
In addition to activities and information tables throughout the venue, the Lincoln Theatre boardroom will display artwork from local artists, and the second-floor ballroom will provide children’s activities including hands-on arts and crafts, face painting, an interactive dance session, and more.
The main-stage schedule is as follows:
2:15 pm Thiossane West African Dance Institute
3:15 pm Jazz Arts Group’s Columbus Youth Jazz Lab Combo
4:15 pm Lincoln Incubation Artist Creative Cuts
Performances in vocal, dance, and spoken word from Lincoln incubation artists
From 4-5pm only, open house guests are invited to observe a working rehearsal of the Jazz Arts Group’s Columbus Youth Jazz program in the Lincoln’s fourth-floor rehearsal room.
About the Lincoln Theatre
First opened in 1928, the Lincoln Theatre is a landmark in African-American and jazz history. After undergoing a $13.5 million renovation funded by a partnership of public and private support, the Lincoln reopened in May 2009 as a multi-use, state-of-the-art performing arts and education center serving the diversity of the central Ohio community. The Lincoln is a bustling hub of activity 365 days a year hosting performances, rehearsals, and classes in the performing arts, as well as a wide variety of community events such as film festivals, meetings, and receptions.
Nationwide Foundation approves $7M grant in support of Ohio State partnership to support facilities, programming in College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Building on 50 years of partnership with The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES), the Nationwide Foundation is contributing $7 million to support the college’s vision of a modern land-grant institution with a mission to sustain life.
“The Nationwide Foundation is proud to make this contribution to Ohio State and see our collaborative efforts around food production, security and sustainability take a giant leap forward,” said Nationwide Foundation President Chad Jester. “Together, we share a long-term vision with the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences that assures the land-grant mission of sustaining life remains strong for generations to come.”
The Nationwide Foundation gift supports initiatives in translating research and making it accessible, strategic collaboration, workforce development and new facilities. This new gift brings total contributions to $11.8 million for the CFAES collaborative over the past several years.
“We are grateful for the Nationwide Foundation’s steadfast support of Ohio State and its land-grant mission,” President Michael V. Drake said. “This generous gift will enable our faculty and students to continue addressing critical challenges for years to come – benefiting communities across Ohio and around the world.”
The largest part of the gift, $5 million, supports constructing new facilities and infrastructure at Waterman Agricultural and Natural Resources Laboratory, a key asset on the Columbus campus and essential to our comprehensive university. At Waterman, CFAES operates a unique hub for teaching, research and extension. Last year alone, more than 100 active research projects, and more than 200 outreach programs in the areas of turf science, dairy management and research, entomology, ecological engineering, agricultural systems management, sustainable agriculture, food science, medicine and behavioral science, agronomic and horticultural production practices took place at Waterman Lab. Waterman is also home to a multitude of college-credit courses encompassing everything from bee-keeping to biogeography. Nationwide Foundation’s lead gift will support CFAES’ goal to engage every undergraduate student in some aspect of the Waterman experience dedicated to food security, production, or sustainability during his or her time at Ohio State.
The plan for Waterman includes a Controlled Environment Food Production Research Complex with a state-of-the-art greenhouse production system. In addition, there will be a new multi-species animal learning center, the Kunz-Brundige Franklin County Extension Building, which is currently being built, and a modernization of the dairy facility.
With the remaining $2 million, the Nationwide Foundation is contributing to programming initiatives focused on the land grant mission, including translating research to ensure its accessibility and utility, broadening lifelong learning opportunities to strengthen the workforce and strengthening leadership programming for CFAES students. These initiatives include combining an integrated team of researchers, data scientists and communicators to manage a robust digital knowledge exchange to respond to public needs and highlight relevant research and data; as well as coordinated development of emerging talent, leaders and workforce through educational, training and certification programs, with innovative research through the college and programming that emphasizes career exploration and college preparation through Ohio 4-H.
“Our college works every day to sustain life, and to be successful we need partners who share our vision, appreciate its complexity and the long-term investment it requires,” said CFAES Vice President for Agricultural Administration and Dean Cathann A. Kress. “Nationwide’s value on doing together what cannot be done alone, both supports our interdisciplinary work and challenges us to keep seeking other collaborators. We are deeply fortunate to have partners like Nationwide and the Nationwide Foundation committed to advancing and sustaining life across Ohio and beyond.”
The Nationwide Foundation
The Nationwide Foundation is a nonprofit, private foundation to which Nationwide companies are the donors. Founded in 1959, the Nationwide Foundation has contributed more than $467.3 million since 2000 to help nonprofit organizations in communities where Nationwide associates and their families live and work.
I-670 Between I-71 and I-270 (East Side)
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 20 – THURSDAY, MARCH 21
I-270 between Easton Way and Hamilton Rd.
7 PM: I-270 south will be reduced to four lanes between I-670 and Easton Way
I-270 north will be reduced to three lanes between I-670 and Hamilton Rd.
8 PM:I-270 south will be reduced to three lanes between I-670 and Easton Way
I-270 north will be reduced to two lanes between I-670 and Hamilton Rd.
The ramp from US 62 west to I-270 south will close
Detour: US 62 west to I-670 west to 5th Ave east to I-670 east to I-270 south
11 PM: I-270 south will be reduced to one lane between I-670 and Easton Way
I-270 north will be reduced to one lane between I-670 and Hamilton Rd.
5 AM: All lanes open
US 36 Bridge over US 62 in Millwood to Close Next Week
Beginning Wednesday, March 27, US 36 will be closed to traffic in Millwood over US 62 for a bridge replacement project.
US 36 will be closed for 99 days
US 36 Detour: SR 229 to SR 308 and reverse
US 62 will be closed from Thursday, March 28, to Wednesday, April 3, for demolition of the overhead bridge
US 62 Detour: SR 229 to SR 308 to US 36 and reverse
Contractor: Complete General Construction
THURSDAY, MARCH 21
US 23 between SR 529 and Richland Rd.
Thursday, March 21 at 6 AM: US 23 will be reduced to one lane in each direction for five months to replace the bridge over Grave Creek
Saturday, August 31 at 6 PM: All lanes open
All work is weather dependent; it may be postponed or cancelled without prior notice.
The Center for Family Safety and Healing Partners with City of Westerville to Expand Adult Services
Nationwide Children’s Hospital
(COLUMBUS, Ohio)– The Center for Family Safety and Healing at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in partnership with City of Westerville have expanded their adult services, effective today, providing counseling and related supportive and advocacy services for adult victims of domestic violence in the community.
Domestic violence occurs when an abusive partner causes harm or threatens the risk of harm to any current or former partner or spouse. Abuse often occurs as a pattern of controlling and coercive behavior. Domestic violence may be physical, sexual, financial, verbal or emotional in nature.
“This partnership with the City of Westerville and additional location will allow us to reach more adults experiencing domestic violence, which affects people in all neighborhoods,” said Kara Penniman, Adult Services’ Clinical Manager at The Center for Family Safety and Healing. “Our staff in Westerville can assist adult survivors of domestic violence to increase their safety, decrease their isolation, and provide mental health treatment for trauma recovery.”
Adult Services will also continue to see clients at The Center for Family Safety and Healing’s primary location at 655 E. Livingston Ave. in Columbus. To make an appointment at either location, call the central intake line at 614-722-8293. This is not an emergency line. If you are in an emergency, call 911 immediately.
“The Center for Family Safety and Healing fulfills a need in our region for victims of domestic violence, as well as protectors in law enforcement and emergency medical services,” said Charles Chandler, Westerville Acting Chief of Police. “Working together, we can be best prepared to help victims first find safety, and then start on a path to recovery and healing.”
For more information about TCFSH Adult Services, visit http://familysafetyandhealing.org/programs-and-services/adult-counseling/.
Nationwide Children’s also supports Westerville children and families with multiple other services and locations throughout the community.
About The Center for Family Safety and Healing
The Center for Family Safety and Healing (TCFSH) fully addresses all aspects of family violence, including child abuse and neglect, teen dating abuse, domestic violence and elder abuse. TCFSH aspires to break the cycle of violence through the advocacy, prevention, intervention, treatment and research of family violence by integrating comprehensive services through community interdisciplinary collaboration and evidence-based practices