Photo by Gittings

What: Junior League of Dallas Milestones Luncheon

Where: Omni Dallas Hotel

The 411: One of the buzziest and best-attended luncheons of spring, the JLD Milestones Luncheon has a reputation for bringing in A-list speakers to entertain and encourage the organization's mission of civic involvement. The 2023 edition, April 14, had a historic twist - the luncheon's first ever male speaker. Award-winning actor Rob Lowe was the star of the show.

But first, there were awards and recognitions for some of Dallas' own. Luncheon co-chairs Heather McNamara and Elizabeth Gambrell recognized the event's biggest sponsors and supporters, and JLD president Emily Somerville-Cabrera and Dallas sustainer president Monica Christopher presented the Sustainer of the Year award to Pam Busbee for her outstanding community leadership.

Somerville-Cabrera shared some strategic changes JLD is making to its Community Program and Signature Projects, including the Mayor’s Back to School Fair and a new Park Improvement Project. She also recognized a new class of Sustaining members, called Legacy Leaders, who have been in the League for more than 50 years.

While guests finished their lunch, emcee Shelly Slater took to the stage with Rob Lowe for a lightning round of questions. Lowe - who announced his mother had been in Junior League in Ohio - entertained with candid stories about long-time friend Gwyneth Paltrow and his career-changing experience on Saturday Night Live. He shared the joy he feels to be working on his new Netflix series, Unstable, alongside his youngest son.

And on two very personal notes, Lowe shared how he's navigated 33 years of sobriety, as well as his secrets to maintaining a happy marriage with his wife of 32 years, Sheryl Lowe.

In a final, poignant note, Lowe addressed the fact that he is the first ever male spokesperson for breast cancer awareness. His motivation, he said, was that his mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother all passed away from breast cancer.

Throughout the luncheon, guests could buy raffle tickets for four fabulous raffle packages. And one lucky person at each table got to take the McShan floral arrangement home - that is, the person whose birthday was closest to Rob Lowe's on March 17.

Who: Marisa Partin, Melinda Knowles, Elizabeth Saab, Maggie Kipp, Nancy Gopez, Katy Bock, Meredith Camp, Caroline Kohl, Nicole Kohl, Caroline and Elizabeth Leal, Barbara Leal, Ellen Griswold, Amy Lichtenwalter, Jenise Young, Kim Cox, Beth Anderson, Sarah Burke, Andrea Cheek, Meredith Mosley, Candance Winslow, Caroline Winslow, Debbie Oates, Jan Baldwin, Karen Shuford, Christie Carter, Claire Emanuelson, Houston Striggow, Susie Sarich, and hundreds more supporters and guests.

JLD Milestones Luncheon 2023

Photo by Gittings

Marisa Partin, Emily Somerville-Cabrera, Elizabeth Gambrell, Rob Lowe, Pam Busbee, Heather McNamara

Photo by It’s Your Night Entertainment

Yellow Rose Gala stages sunny return to Dallas society scene post-pandemic

Follow the Brass Band

Themed the "Everything's Bigger in Texas Masquerade," the 37th Yellow Rose Gala brought the Big Easy to Dallas.

Jesters on stilts, masked models at the photo opp, and a brass band to lead attendees to dinner all infused the evening with a sense of fun and philanthropy, as guests gathered at the Renaissance Dallas Hotel on April 15 to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis research.

The generous crowd ended up donating more than half a million dollars to the International Progressive MS Alliance and UT Southwestern Peter O’Donnell Brain Institute.

During cocktail hour, 500 guests took pictures in front of the foundation's signature 8-foot yellow rose wall, climbed into a Back to the Future DeLorean for a photo opp, and browsed the 150-plus silent auction items, which included incredible art by Nita Patel and Taylor Daum, plus lavish trips and stunning jewelry.

2023 Gala chairs Christie Eckler and David Moore, both MS warriors themselves, shared their personal stories, along with heartfelt words from the Wynne family and their determination to carry on Yellow Rose Founder Dee Wynne’s legacy to find a cure.

Encouraging words from UT Southwestern researcher and neurologist Dr. Benjamin Greenberg and a touching reflection from artist and MS warrior Jennifer Troice — whose sculpture ignited a spontaneous live auction — were also part of the dinner program.

Several tears were spotted around the room during Catherine Cox’s performance of “You’ll be in My Heart” from Tarzan, sung to honor the 2023 Courage Award receipt: the Jean Bateman family and their beloved Walker Bateman.

Guests were also moved by a precious video showing the children who decorated 500 masks to personally raise money for MS research. Attendees could take these works of art home, as well as snapping pictures in front of the masterpieces hanging on an 8-foot glittery gold wall in the lobby.

The evening's entertainment was provided by Motown icon and legend GC Cameron, former lead singer of the Spinners and The Temptations.

Following the main event, guests continued to dance the night away with a featured performance by none other than 2023 Gala chair David Moore’s band Moore Melodies, and ended the evening with late-night bites from Whataburger.

Patrick and Kristy Sands, long-time Yellow Rose supporters and Dallas philanthropists, were the event's honorary chairs. Chair Emeritus were Larry Lott and Sheree J. Wilson, known for her roles on the hit television shows Dallas and Walker, Texas Ranger.

Spotted throughout the evening were Laurie Sands Harrison, Mary and Bob Black, Paula and Scott Burford,Patty and Andrew Jackson, Jane Lombardi, Allison and Justin McAfee, Jimmy Wynne, Diana and Mike Miller, Martha Tiller,Tammany and Rob Stern, Dora Chu, Maria and Jock Stafford, Nora and Dale Jacobs, and Congressman Pat Fallon.

The Yellow Rose Gala Foundation is an active 501(c)(3) that aims to forever rid the world of MS. The Yellow Rose Gala Foundation partners with the National MS Society, where 100 percent of the net proceeds raised go to progressive MS research through the International Progressive MS Alliance. For more information, visit www.TheYellowRose.org.

Yellow Rose Gala 2023

Photo by It’s Your Night Entertainment

Sandy Diaz Haley, Leah Bartlett, Lily Goldstucker, Shannon Nelson, Amy Vickroy

Photo courtesy of Perot Museum

Drinks + dinosaurs mix at return of popular Thursdays on Tap at the Perot Museum

Tap This

One of Dallas' most unique and enjoyable programs is ordering another round. Thursdays on Tap at the Perot Museum of Nature & Science starts up again on April 6 and runs through the end of October (cue rejoicing from the 21-and-up crowd who loves booze and dinosaurs).

This is your chance to tour the entire museum without the daytime crowds or children getting underfoot. You can also purchase drinks from the outdoor bars for only $3-$10 (last call is at 9:45 pm, FYI).

Then purchase tasty treats and delicious bites from the many rotating food trucks and vendors parked outside from 6-10 pm.

The drool-worthy vendors you can expect to see on Thursday nights in April include:

  • Mi Cocina (April 6 and 20)
  • Cuates Kitchen (April 6)
  • Easy Slider (April 6)
  • Community Beer Co. (April 6, 13, and 20)
  • Sushi Dojo (April 13)
  • Cousins Maine Lobster (April 13)
  • Magdalena's (April 13)
  • Egg Stand (April 20)
  • Ruthie's Rolling Cafe (April 20)
Don't forget to play one of the outside games while enjoying live music by local artists. Tauvy Thompson will perform at the first event on April 6, Alex Cantrell on April 13, and Alejandro De La Puente is scheduled for April 20.

Until Labor Day, the museum’s latest traveling exhibition “The Science Behind Pixar,” presented locally by NexPoint, is included in the price of admission.

Though taking public transportation, carpooling, or using a rideshare service is recommended due to the nature of the event, all guests can park for $10 per car (credit card only) in the main parking lot under Woodall Rodgers Freeway on Broom Street, right across from the museum.

Thursdays on Tap is $25 for non-members, and only $5 for members. The program begins April 6 and runs weekly until October 26. More information can be found on the Perot Museum's website.

Perot Museum Thursdays on Tap

Photo courtesy of Perot Museum

Thursdays on Tap returns April 6 and runs through October.

Photo courtesy of Genesis

Dallas young professionals boogie down at disco Masquerade for Genesis Women's Shelter

Gettin' groovy

What: Genesis Young Leaders' Masquerade

Where: The Empire Room

The 411: On February 17, the Genesis Young Leaders were finally back with their big spring fundraising bash after a two-year pandemic hiatus. It's always been one of the most highly anticipated parties of the year for Dallas young professionals.

Themed "A Night Out at the Disco," the semi-formal gala was a sparkling evening of fun and fundraising.

About 400 guests donned their sequins and bell bottoms and boogied down under the disco ball. They enjoyed an open bar with signature cocktails, silent auction, casino by Carte Blanche, 360 photobooth by Currently Events, and entertainment in the way of roller-skate dancers Jaron Harris, Peyton Mixon, and Felicia Armstrong.

DJ Blake Ward kept the crowd moving and grooving on the dance floor.

Lucky winners of raffle prizes went home with a VIP experience for Genesis’ upcoming luncheon featuring keynote speaker Nicole Kidman; A getaway package with points from Southwest Airlines and Hilton; and a Times Ten wine tasting, four-course meal for 8 by Chef Mollie Guerra and a karaoke machine, creating the ultimate party.

The event raised an impressive $131,000 to benefit the many women and children whom Genesis Women's Shelter serves.

The successful event was co-chaired by Michael Anorue, Brooke Roshell, and David Green. More information about Genesis Young Leaders can be found here.

Who: Genesis CEO Jan Langbein, director of fund & community development Amy Norton, special events manager Caitlin Madden, Becky Park, Brownlee Hopkins, Greg Hopkins, Carly Mann, Brian Dean, Luis Araujo, Lauren Purdy, Lynsay Quinn, Elizabeth Wilhite, and many patrons and guests.

Genesis Masquerade

Photo courtesy of Genesis

Luis Araujo, Lauren Purdy, Lynsay Quinn, Elizabeth Wilhite, and Michael Anorue

Photo by Gittings

Dallas Symphony debutantes put their best bow forward at 2023 Presentation Ball

Dipping into society

Executing the most athletic feat ever attempted in a ginormous white ballgown, 26 debutantes took their "Texas Dip" into society at the 37th Annual Dallas Symphony Orchestra League Presentation Ballon February 11.

In grand tradition, each young woman was escorted onto the stage of the Meyerson Symphony Center by her father as the Dave Alexander Orchestra played a theme of her choosing. Dad then kissed her on the cheek, stepped to the side carefully (Don't step on the dress!) and looked on proudly as she walked forward.

Slowly, gracefully, purposefully, each woman curtsied all the way to the ground - arms out, head forward, head bowed, head to the side - all while clutching a floral bouquet. A member of the Honor Guard then assisted her onto her feet and carefully (Don't step on the dress!) escorted her off stage to relax.

While most in the audience politely applauded each performance, occasionally an entire cheering section of the young women's peers (mostly of college sophomore and junior age) would stand up and yell for their friends, as if at a sporting event. (The program specifically requested no air horns or cowbells.) A breach of etiquette, perhaps, but some added celebratory élan at the swanky formal affair.

The 2023 DSOL debutantes were: Britton Barcus, Margaret Bracken, Stephanie Ciarochi, Kate Clark, Sarah Crow, Elena Dewar, Gracie Dix, Natalie Duvall, Arden Eiland, Charlotte Esping, Kaitlin Ann Kelly, Celeste Lay, Ella Marks, Ellie Michaelson, Gigi Miller, Lydia Pigott, Morgan Potter, Sasha Schwimmer, Ellie Steindorf, Catherine Stiles, Elizabeth Thompson, Lucy Tilden, CeCe Tribolet, Danielle Ward, Paige Williams, and Nicole Zimmer.

The DSOL Presentation Ball is a time-honored tradition for many of Dallas' most influential and philanthropic families. For example (try to keep up here) ...

Gigi Miller made her debut, and brothers Vaughn andVance served as Honor Guards. Their grandmother, Tincy Miller, founded the event in 1987. Her son (their father) Vaughn Miller was among the first Honor Guard group in the inaugural year.

Then there is the Averitt family, who has been active in the event for 30 years. Members of the Averitt/Duvall families were present for the debut of Natalie Duvall. Her mom, Susan Averitt Duvall, made her debut in the inaugural presentation ball, and sister Madelyn Duvall was presented in 2020. Susan’s brother Mark Averitt was a member of the first group of Honor Guards, and other family members were involved, as well.

Several parents present had had debutante daughters in prior years, including Heather and Bill Esping, Megan and John Pigott, Dawne and Patrick Tribolet, and Michelle and Erik Ward.

During the onstage ceremony, emcee Stan Garner recognized this year's honorary co-chairs Lisa and Clay Cooley, Presentation Ball chair Karen Cox, and DSOL president Cynthia Beaird. Legendary fashion show producer Jan Strimple was honored, as this was her final year as choreographer of the ball; she is handing the reins to Densil Adams assisted by Mia Davis.

After each young woman was presented, the audience scurried quickly into the lobby, where trumpeters lined the grand staircase in anticipation of the debs' procession. Escorted by Honor Guard members, the women were announced and ushered onto the dance floor for the traditional father-daughter dance.

Then patrons found their tables for a sumptuous seated dinner: spring greens bouquet salad with artistically presented red and yellow tomato, mozzarella tower; roasted filet mignon with Yukon gold mashed potatoes, baby carrots, and spinach; and a decadent flourless chocolate torte with brandied cherries and vanilla bean whipped cream for dessert.

Following dinner, Limelight Band took the stage, and the door floor filled for a high-energy after-party.

The Presentation Ball, which was first held in 1987, is the largest fundraiser for the DSOL. Over $14 million has been raised for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra through the annual black- or white-tie event. Participation is open to all young women. Much like a sorority, participants pay fees and participate in parties, fundraisers, and other events throughout the year.

Founded in 1946, the DSOL's mission is to support the Dallas Symphony Orchestra through service, education and fundraising activities. Since 1998 the League has contributed over $21 million in support of the DSO's many community initiatives.

DSOL debutante ball

Photo by Gittings

Elena Dewar doing the Texas Dip

Photo by Ray Carlin

Dallas YPs hit the jackpot at glittering casino-themed CASAblanca party

Put It All on Red

As one of the first events of spring society season, not to mention an essential party for young professionals, CASAblanca is a guaranteed glamorous night of gambling (with fake money, of course), dancing, and donating.

As always, proceeds from this year's sold-out event benefit Dallas CASA, which helps recruit, train, and supervise community volunteers that serve as advocates for local children in foster care. With that in mind, hundreds of YPs arrived at The Hall on Dragon ready to throw down dollars as well as dice.

After posing for pics at the photo booth and in front of the step-and-repeat, guests could either get down to betting business or browse the sumptuous silent auction, all while sipping watermelon margaritas studded with smoking dry ice.

Chairs Anuka Dhakal, Brooke Donelson, and Melissa Wongbust led the crowd to bust a move on the dance floor, with The Special Edition Band providing a high-energy soundtrack all night long.

Spotted on the dance floor and at the tables were Keaton and Michelle Mai, Christina Stephenson, Mike Feather, Michael and Cristina Swartz, Melody and Maurice Tisbe, Christina Nelson, Taylor Pearson, Latisha Chaney, Nicole Streich, Emily Black, Daniel Lopez, Tara Mulvey, Lacey Spell, Carson and Lizzy May, Tyre Wilson, Juan Nevarez, Sandra Martinez, Stephanie Felton, Scott Nixon, Rowan Gilvie, Liv Murphy, Rylie Hoover, Jeff Hummel, Maddie Kress, Kenzie Radke, Lauren Goodson, Chase Davis, Jordan and Chandler Dinardo, Lindsay and Jarrod Williams, Chance and Christy Woodard, Careyann and Corey Thomas, and Madi Wheeler.

In between shouts of "Red!" and "Blackjack!," attendees enjoyed passed appetizers and a well-stocked bar. Chefs served up veggie fried rice in traditional Chinese take-out containers, before ending the evening with take-home fried chicken biscuits.

Extra-special guests gathered in the roped-off VIP area, sponsored by Megan and Tom Sterquell.

All those hard-won chips translated into raffle tickets for prizes, such as a mirror ball-decorated bottle of Veuve Clicquot and a gift basket custom-made for hard-core coffee lovers.

CASAblanca began as a way to raise awareness among young Dallas citizens of the critical role an advocate can play in the life of a child living in foster care. Dallas CASA Young Professionals is an outreach, volunteer, and fundraising arm for Dallas CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates). The group is open to anyone ages 21 to 40 who wants to make a difference in the lives of abused children.

Brooke Donelson, Anuka Dhakal, Melissa Wong at CASAblanca 2023

Photo by Ray Carlin

Brooke Donelson, Anuka Dhakal, Melissa Wong

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21 North Texas museums offer free admission to military families this summer

Giving Back

Nearly two dozen Dallas-Fort Worth museums are honoring active duty military personnel and their families with free admission through the Blue Star Museums initiative, May 20-September 4, 2023.

Established by the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, and the U.S. Department of Defense, the Blue Star Museums program annually provides military families free access to 2,000 museums nationwide throughout the summer. The program begins yearly on Armed Forces Day in May and ends on Labor Day.

Free admission is extended to personnel currently serving in the U.S Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard (including those in the Reserve), and all National Guardsman. Members of the U.S. Public Health Commissioned Corps and NOAA Commissioned Corps are also included in the program.

Those who qualify can use their military ID to bring up to five family members - including relatives of those currently deployed. More information about qualifications can be found here.

There is no limit on the number of participating museums that qualifying families may visit. Admission for non-active military veterans, however, is not included.

According to the National Endowment for the Arts website, the initiative was created to help "improve the quality of life for active duty military families" with a specific focus on children. The site states 2 million have had a parent deployed since 2001.

"Blue Star Museums was created to show support for military families who have faced multiple deployments and the challenges of reintegration," the organizers say. "This program offers these families a chance to visit museums this summer when many will have limited resources and limited time to be together."

In Dallas-Fort Worth, participating institutions include well-known art, science, and history museums, as well as smaller museums outside the city limits. Here's a look at all the museums in North Texas that are participating in the Blue Star Museums initiative this year.

In Dallas:

In Fort Worth:

In Garland:

In Irving:

In Mesquite:

In Cleburne:

In Krum:

In Sanger:

More information about Blue Star Museums and a full list of participants can be found on arts.gov.

These are the 7 best most intriguing hot dogs in Dallas right now

Hot Dog News

Editor's Note: In prior stories, CultureMap contributor Lila Levy has sussed out the top bagels in Dallas, and tried pretty much every lavender latte in town. Now she's ready to offer her take on that summertime classic: hot dogs.

Portillo's hot dogs
portillo's hot dogs


Hot dogs are the quintessential summer food and an item that nearly everyone loves. They're simple, flavorful, easy to make at home, and affordable if you dine out.

Some cities like Chicago have a long-standing tradition with hot dogs, and while Dallas is not Windy-City-level quiet yet, we've seen an influx of some exciting new hot dog concepts come to town, joining a few locals who've been dishing out memorable hot dogs all along.

Here's the 7 most interesting hot dogs you can find in Dallas-Fort Worth:

Portillo’s in the Colony, Chicago-style hot dog, $4.50
Chicago-based fast casual brand known for its hot dogs and other favorite Chicago fare, has expanded to Texas, with its first restaurant in The Colony, which opened in January 2023. Chicago-style hot dogs are my favorite kind, and Portillo's does it right. Their basic hot dog comes with "everything": mustard, relish, celery salt, chopped onions, sliced tomato, pickle, and sport peppers on a steamed poppy seed bun. I loved the condiments, especially the peppers and relish. My companion thought the bun was too soft, but it was fine for me. Their hot dogs have a snappy casing with a robust tangy flavor.

Hunky'sHunky Dog, $4.25
Cedar Springs pioneer has been serving hamburgers, fries, and malts, since 1984. They're known for their burgers but they also do a trio of hot dogs including the classic "Hunky Dog," a hefty quarter-pounder with relish, onions, and mustard. I've been here before and know it's best to ask for the hot dog to be grilled extra, to give it that additional "burnt hot dog" cookout flavor. At $4.25, it's a bargain and their presentation is cool: They split the hot dog down the middle and place the onions and relish on top, and they toast the edges of their bun.

Fletcher's Original Corny DogsMake Mine Texan, $10
No story on hot dogs is complete without Fletcher's, famed purveyor of the classic corny dog. You used to have to wait for the State Fair of Texas to get them, but now that they have a food truck, you can find them camped at venues such as the Dallas Arboretum, and they're also at Klyde Warren Park Tuesdays-Sundays. They've expanded their lineup of flavors so I ordered their most recent invention: Called Make Mine Texan, it's a hot dog made of beef and brisket, with smoke seasoning that adds a heartier Texas flavor.

Dog Haus in RichardsonTooo Chi, $8
California hot dog chain takes a gourmet approach with jumbo hot dogs, veggie dogs, vegan sausages, and 40+ toppings including some you might not expect, such as arugula. I ordered the Tooo Chi, their version of the Chicago hot dog, which they brag is a hormone- and antibiotic-free beef hot dog, with tomato, pickle, neon-green pickle relish, mustard, diced onions, sport peppers, and celery salt. Their cooking added a nice char that emphasized the grilled flavor. It made me nostalgic to the days when my parents would grill hot dogs in the summer outside. Their point of distinction is their bread: sweet rich King's Hawaiian rolls, which they butter and grill, for a nice contrast of soft roll and crisp edges.

Angry DogAngry Dog, $8.95
Deep Ellum staple had hot dogs on the menu long before hot dogs became the foodie sensation they are today, and they offer a simple plain hot dog on a bun as a nod to those humble days. But everyone gets the signature Angry Dog: a kosher dog, split in half and grilled, placed on a toasted open-faced bun, then topped with chili, grilled red onions, mustard, and shredded cheddar cheese. It's more of a chili casserole than a hot dog, a knife-and-fork kind of deal where the bun gets soggy underneath the mountain of toppings, and you almost lose track of the hot dog. But unbeatable for a hangover cure or a big cheat meal.

Globe Life Field, Ballpark hot dog, $7
In recent years, the Texas Rangers' food service division has been jazzing up its ballpark menu, introducing new items, some of them crazy like the Boomstick 2-foot-long hot dog. I stick to the basic ballpark hot dog, with the only option being that you can get grilled onions at no additional charge. It's a standard six-inch hot dog, with self-serve mustard, ketchup, and relish, on a soft, nondescript bun, with a nice snap, the prototypical hot dog you eat while cheering on the hometown team.

Frank Seoul, Potato hot dog, $5.49
Korean hot dogs, also known as Korean corn dogs, are a Korean street food that started showing up in Dallas a few years ago, via Korean-born chains such as Two Hands and K-Town. Frank Seoul was one of the first and has locations in Carrollton and Frisco. Their specialty is hot dogs coated in a batter and deep-fried, like a corny dog but with a batter made from flour or rice flour, and additional ingredients such as the coating of diced potatoes in the potato hot dog that I ordered. They have a wild variety like a "cream cheese dog" — literally cream cheese on a stick &mdash and prices are all $6 or less.

This is not the place for a hot dog purist. The hot dog itself was lackluster, but the "shell" of crispy fried potatoes was magnificent, like a wonderful hash brown, and great on its own, didn't need the mustard I added a bit.

Disney's Little Mermaid remake goes swimmingly despite new so-so songs

Movie review

The biggest problem with the majority of the live-action updates to classic Disney animated films is that they haven’t been updates at all, choosing to merely regurgitate the moments audiences know and love from the original in a slightly repackaged form. That’s great for nostalgia, but if that’s all viewers wanted, they’d just go back and watch the original.

The Little Mermaid falls into much the same trap, although the filmmakers get at least a little credit for trying to offer something new. The story, of course, remains the same, as Ariel (Halle Bailey) has a fascination with everything above the surface of the ocean. Her rebellious nature, at odds with strict King Triton (Javier Bardem), leads her to spy on a ship with Prince Eric (Jonah Hauer-King) and his crew, putting her in position to save Eric when the ship crashes into rocks.

Now totally enamored of Eric, Ariel is convinced by the sea witch Ursula (Melissa McCarthy) to give up her voice for a chance to live on land and make Eric fall in love with her. Trouble is, despite the help of Sebastian the crab (Daveed Diggs), Flounder the fish (Jacob Tremblay), and Scuttle the seabird (Awkwafina), Ursula has no plans to let Ariel succeed fair and square.

Directed by Rob Marshall and written by David Magee, the film clocks in at nearly one hour longer than the original, going from 83 minutes to 135. They accomplish this feat with the addition of several songs, including ones “sung” by Ariel while she is without voice, a relatively clever way to get into her thoughts during that long stretch. There are also additional scenes that give Prince Eric more of a backstory, making him more than just a pretty face on which to hang all of Ariel’s hopes and dreams.

The new songs are hit-and-miss; Ariel’s “For the First Time” is a fanciful number that fits in nicely, but “Wild Uncharted Waters,” a solo song for Prince Eric, feels unnecessary, and the less said about “The Scuttlebutt,” a rap performed by Scuttle and written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the better. What most people want to see are how the original songs are done, and they come off well for the most part. The actors’ voices are uniformly good and the staging is engaging.

Other changes seem half-hearted, at best. A vague environmental theme broached at the beginning is quickly dropped. The cast is very multicultural, but haphazardly so. The film is obviously set on and around a Caribbean island, making it natural for The Queen (Noma Dumezweni), Eric’s adopted mother, and other islanders to be Black. But giving Ariel “sisters from the seven seas,” allowing for mermaids of several different races and ethnicities, feels odd and forced, and a little creepy given that King Triton is supposed to be the father of all of them.

The fact that Bailey herself is Black, while great for representation, is neither here nor there in the context of the film. Bailey has a voice that is equal to everything she is asked to sing, and her silent acting is excellent in the middle portion of the film. McCarthy makes for a great Ursula, bringing both humor and pathos to the role. Hauer-King, who bears a similarity to Ryan Gosling, plays Eric in a more well-rounded manner.

The live-action version of The Little Mermaid, like almost all of the Disney remakes, never truly establishes itself as its own unique thing. Still, it’s a thoroughly pleasant watch with some nice performances, which clears the bar for success for this era of Disney history.


The Little Mermaid opens in theaters on May 26.

Halle Bailey in The Little Mermaid

Photo courtesy of Disney

Halle Bailey in The Little Mermaid.