Ariel is a mermaid who dreams of living life on the land after she sees a handsome prince. Her best friend is a yellow fish named Flounder. Her father, King Triton, tries to keep his daughter from leaving the sea. He even sends his right hand man Sebastian to talk her out of wanting to leave and he sings "Under the Sea" to show the good things. Ariel makes a deal with Ursula, a wicked sea witch, that she would give her voice for legs. She could only get her voice back by kissing her true love. After the prince finds her on the beach he brings her back to the castle. He takes her out in a boat on the river while Sebastian is singing "Kiss the Girl." Ariel appears in the Broadway adaptation of the 1989 film, which ran at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre with previews from November 3, 2007 leading to opening night on January 10, 2008. This original production closed on August 30, 2009, but other US and international productions have followed since. The character of Ariel for the stage adaptation was originated by Sierra Boggess, with the role also portrayed later by actresses Chelsea Morgan Stock and Michelle Lookadoo. Jodi Benson, the original voice actor for Ariel, attended the musical's opening night.
In order to portray the characters underwater, the actors wore Heelys wheeled footwear, which simulate the gliding action of swimming creatures. The actors playing Ariel and the other merfolk had wire-frame tails attached to their hips. Subsequent productions feature different designs for Ariel and the merfolk; the Dutch and Japanese productions use wirework and aerial stunts to create the illusion of underwater swimming.
The stage musical follows the basic structure of the film, but there are some differences between the two. Ariel acknowledges and is acknowledged by Ursula as family, since in this version Ursula is Triton's sister. In a new subplot, Grimsby holds a contest inviting all the princesses in the land for a singing competition for Eric to choose his bride; Ariel cannot sing, but she dances for Eric, and he chooses her. Ariel also has a more active role in the final battle, where she is the one who defeats Ursula by destroying her Nautilus shell that contains her power.
In addition to the songs in the film, Ariel has new songs by Alan Menken and lyrics by Glenn Slater. "The World Above" is Ariel's introductory song, where she expresses her admiration and curiosity with the human world, "Beyond My Wildest Dreams" is performed after Ariel has become human and given up her voice, and is used to express her thoughts about the human world and Eric, and "If Only" is a quartet between Ariel, Eric, King Triton and Sebastian where all four express longing and sadness for their current situation: Ariel saddened that she only has one day left to get Eric to kiss her, Eric's confusion of falling for Ariel despite longing for the mysterious girl who saved his life, King Triton's regret at driving Ariel away, and Sebastian for his inability to help Ariel achieve her dreams.