At the time of this publication, Graham Phillips — as The Little Mermaid Live!‘s Prince Eric — is belting out the final notes of “Her Voice,” an emotional ballad that establishes Eric as a multi-dimensional character, one who feels just as trapped in his own world as Ariel is in hers. Beautiful as it may be, “Her Voice” isn’t exactly a household favorite, but that’s only because very few households have ever heard it before.
“It’s really exciting that I get to premiere a lot of these songs for people who haven’t gotten a chance to see the Broadway musical,” Phillips tells TVLine. “And it’s liberating that I get to explore a bit more of where Eric is coming from. If you watch the movie, you don’t really understand his perspective. It’s Ariel’s story, but like any good love story, there are always two sides of the coin. It’ll be nice for everyone to get a clearer sense of why Eric is so bonded with this girl that he’s only heard. A lot of stories are love at first sight, but this is love at first sound. He has some idea of what she looks like, but really, it’s the sound that drives his search. So it’s nice that I have a whole song, ‘Her Voice,’ that allows me and the audience to explore how much Eric is looking for Ariel.”
Of course, this is just one of several songs Eric sings in The Little Mermaid Live! that won’t necessarily be familiar to viewers. Later in the broadcast, he’ll join Auli’i Cravalho for a song called “If Only,” which was written as a quartet for the Broadway version (with Sebastian and King Triton), then converted to a duet for ABC’s live production.
“Getting to sing with her is awesome,” Phillips says. “Her voice is super expressive, and she has this uncanny ability to convey exactly what she’s feeling without broadcasting it. Everything just comes across really effortlessly, and there aren’t many people who can do that. Anyone can push an emotion out, but to get to sing with someone who has such an honesty in her voice is contagious, because I try to meet her at that level.”
Working on The Little Mermaid Live! has felt “like a homecoming” for Phillips, who performed in musicals and operas long before landing the role of Julianna Margulies and Chris Noth’s son on CBS’ The Good Wife. “The theater is my home,” he says. “Getting to return to my roots after a decade-long hiatus — between The Good Wife and college and everything — is really nice.”
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