Beauty and the Beast Live Is Coming!

After The Little Mermaid Live! received quite a bit of undeserved criticism, Disney has decided to try the live treatment again with the next chronological princess movie, Beauty and the Beast. Disney has just announced Beauty and the Beast: A 30th Celebration to air on Thursday, December 15th at 8PM EST on ABC in honor of the film's 30th anniversary, which was actually last year. The special will likely be presented in the same way as its predecessor with a live screening of the film in front of a group of energetic fans while a yet-to-be-announced cast of actors will come out in costume to perform each song in person. Like The Little Mermaid, this format was previously presented to an audience at the Hollywood Bowl in 2018 where actress Zooey Deschanel starred as Belle. Who would be your dream casting for this new televised take on the film?

Beauty and the Beast in Concert Promo Image

What I preferred about the televised version of The Little Mermaid to the one at the Hollywood Bowl is that it was filmed at indoor theater where cables and moving sets were built just for the show, giving it an extra piece of magic. Critics who complained that the sets looked cheap failed to consider that they were built for a one-time performance and not a Broadway run (which didn't do a much better job anyway.) Beauty and the Beast had a far more successful Broadway run, though we should expect to see new costumes and sets for this show as opposed to a rehash of the ones that were used on stage previously. The made-for-TV special is produced by John M. Chu who has worked on a number of plays that were brought to the screen, the most recent one being the highly anticipated adaptation of Wicked. It will be directed by Hamish Hamilton, whose experience consists mostly of live award shows.

Beauty and the Beast Broadway poster

What should we expect from Beauty and the Beast: A 30th Anniversary Celebration? Assuming it follows in the footsteps of The Little Mermaid Live, the show will contain live performances for every song in the film as well as a few bonuses from the Broadway show and possibly the 2017 live-action adaptation. If I had to guess, I believe the new songs will include fan favorites "Home" and "If I Can't Love Her" from the Broadway show and "Days in the Sun" from the live-action adaptation. Costumes and sets will probably be along the lines of what one might see on Dancing with the Stars' Disney Night--Broadway adjacent, but not quite the same level. I would expect some light makeup for the Beast, but they probably won't go all out with it. There may be a few cool special effects, mostly during the "Be Our Guest Number," which tends to be the showstopper in most live versions of this film.

Though the 30th anniversary of Beauty and the Beast was last year, the lockdown delayed all live shows across the board, so there may be other events celebrating this film in the coming months. I would expect a celebration panel at the upcoming D23 Expo in September to rival the one that The Little Mermaid had in 2019. Since that event was hosted by Jodi Benson, the talented voice of Ariel, I would expect Disney Princess veteran Paige O'Hara to host the panel for her film. It is also possible that she will make an appearance at the live special in December as well, as Jodi Benson introduced the one for The Little Mermaid and was a guest star for the public event at the Hollywood Bowl. Another potential guest star may be Emma Watson, who portrayed Belle in the remake, but that is unlikely since this celebration is specific to the animated version that came out in 1991.

I'm not sure who I would want to see playing Belle in the upcoming live show. Following in the tradition of The Little Mermaid, it will probably be a cast of actors who were not previously involved with Beauty and the Beast, which factors out anyone who was involved with the Broadway musical. Since Ariel was played by a newer Disney Princess actress, Auli'i Cravalho, who starred as Moana, there is a possibility that Halle Bailey will be selected as Belle to build hype for the upcoming live-action Little Mermaid movie and add another Disney Princess to her roster. As far as current actors go, I think I'm too out of touch to even be able to guess who would play the Beast and other characters. Let me know who you'd like to see in the comments!


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