If stellar vocals are a must-have for you when it comes to Disney musicals, you were probably less than impressed with the musical offerings in the live action Beauty and the Beast film last year. The stars, who are best known for their serious acting, weren't the strongest representatives to deliver a soundtrack originally sung by bonafide Broadway actors. Perhaps in an attempt to rectify the film's vocal blunders, the Beauty and the Beast live concert cast is here, and you can definitely rest assured that a better presentation of the songs is in store.
Scheduled to run at Los Angeles' Hollywood Bowl venue on May 25 and 26, Beauty and the Beast in Concert has booked New Girl star Zooey Deschanel as Belle. Kelsey Gramer will join her as Lumiere, while Taye Diggs and Rebel Wilson will appear as Gaston and his sidekick LeFou. Jane Krakowski, known for 30 Rock, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and several Broadway roles, will sing the titular song as Mrs. Potts, while The Voice Season 2 contestant Anthony Evans will star opposite Deschanel as the Beast.
Um, can I start a petition for this concert to be televised?
The nature of the concert mirrors a similar 2016 event at the Hollywood Bowl that presented the songs of The Little Mermaid live. Sara Bareilles and Darren Criss appeared as Ariel and Prince Eric, while Wilson also joined the concert as villain Ursula. Critical reception of the concert may have varied, but it's clear that such a star-studded cast and recognizable music attracted the summertime crowds.
Richard Kraft, the director of The Little Mermaid Live in Concert, will return for Beauty and the Beast. In a statement, he said:
Like our celebration of Disney’s The Little Mermaid in Concert at the Hollywood Bowl, we are mixing film, live music, singers, dancers, digital projections, effects, and special guest artists to create an event that pays homage to the original movie but also delivers something that can only be experienced live.
While the concert audience may consist of Disney purists who'd rather not think about the 2017 remake, there will be at least one reference to the newer movie. Evans is set to perform "Evermore," the Beast's original song that Dan Stevens sang in the film and Josh Groban later released as a single. I'm more in the camp of just wanting Deschanel to avoid breaking out a ukulele for the singing of "Belle," so I can bear bringing back "Evermore."
Grammer, who previously worked with Disney on Toy Story 2, also expressed excitement about taking on the role of Lumiere, originally played by Law & Order star Jerry Orbach:
I love this film, I love Alan Menken, and I loved Jerry Orbach — the title song, as sung by Angela Lansbury, makes me cry to this day. Walking in the footsteps of such a brilliant cast is an honor; and as for singing the music of the incomparable Alan Menken, it goes without saying.
On Twitter, reactions to the cast are fairly positive. If anything, the most confusion has appeared in response to Wilson being cast as the bumbling LeFou. I get it — why not have Josh Gad reprise his remake role and show off his Broadway chops instead of making Wilson the butt of people's jokes?
Tickets for Beauty and the Beast in Concert at the Hollywood Bowl will be available on Friday, March 16, via Ticketmaster. For those of us who can't make it to L.A. for the special event, here's hoping that video of the cast's performances will make it onto YouTube. Meanwhile, can we start booking actors for a Lion King live concert just in case the remake flops?