Here's How to Watch "Beauty and the Beast: A 30th Celebration"
It's a tale as old as time, but it's back with a twist! "Beauty and the Beast" has been adapted in a new format to mark over three decades since the release of Disney's animated film. Titled "Beauty and the Beast: A 30th Celebration," the new ABC special coincides with the 30th anniversary of the timeless fantasy's historic Academy Award nomination for best picture, the first time an animated movie had been tapped in that category.
Directed by Jon M. Chu, who helmed "Crazy Rich Asians," the reimagination of Disney's beloved story sees H.E.R. (aka Gabriella Sarmiento Wilson) putting her spin on the lead character of Belle. In an exclusive behind-the-scenes clip shared with POPSUGAR, the singer, songwriter, and actor dishes on stepping into her role.
"I'm so honored to be able to play a Disney princess, because who doesn't want to play a Disney princess?" she says. "And, of course, 'Beauty and the Beast' is one of my favorites, so my inner child was screaming." Josh Groban — who stars alongside H.E.R. as the Beast — adds of the TV special, "The first thing that hit me was the music. . . . There are so many people there, but they're all so excited to tell the story. So excited to be a cog in this wheel."
From the theatrics and musicality to the exciting live setting, "Beauty and the Beast: A 30th Celebration" is designed to wow audiences. According to H.E.R., she looks forward to viewers seeing how she breathes new life into her rendition of Belle. "There's a strength in Belle, you see it in the movie, but I think I'm really trying to bring that out and show women they can be anything they want to be. Of course, nobody's ever seen a Black and Filipino Belle, so it's really cool that young Filipino Black girls get to see a Disney princess that looks like them. It's a special project. It's nothing anybody's ever seen before."
Keep reading for all the details we have about the special, including the cast, the release date, first-look photos, and exclusive videos.
"Beauty and the Beast: A 30th Celebration" Exclusive Behind-the-Scenes Clip
"Beauty and the Beast: A 30th Celebration" Cast
In the reimagined special, H.E.R. brings Belle to life, taking on a role previously portrayed by Emma Watson in 2017's live-action feature. Through her lead role, the ubertalented Grammy- and Academy Award-winning artist becomes the first Afro Filipina woman to play the character. The "I Can't Breathe" singer-songwriter expressed excitement over landing the role in a statement, per Deadline, that reads, "I can't believe I get to be a part of the Beauty and the Beast legacy. The world will see a Black and Filipino Belle! I have always wanted to be a Disney princess, and I get to work with two wonderful directors Hamish Hamilton and my favorite, Jon M. Chu. It is very surreal and I couldn't be more grateful."
The 25-year-old R&B star is also slated to appear in another modern iteration of a classic musical, "The Color Purple," alongside a stacked cast that includes Halle Bailey, Ciara, Jon Batiste, and more.
Others joining H.E.R. in the "Beauty and the Beast" special include Groban as Beast, Joshua Henry as Gaston, David Alan Grier as Cogsworth, and Rita Moreno as the narrator. Martin Short and Shania Twain are also confirmed members of the cast, per Entertainment Weekly.
"Beauty and the Beast: A 30th Celebration" Plot
Though most are likely familiar with the story, "Beauty and the Beast: A 30th Celebration" showcases a new twist on the classic with talents such as H.E.R. and Chu behind the live-action and animated project. Viewers can expect contemporary musical performances, costumes, and sets to refresh the original story in this one-night-only extravaganza.
The original plot of "Beauty and the Beast" is based on a French fairy tale and tells the story of Belle, who is taken prisoner by a cursed prince turned beast but soon sees a different side of his personality concealed behind the cold exterior. As they proceed to connect through their many conversations, their blossoming love for each other lifts the spell placed on the prince (and the other occupants of his enchanted castle), and the two live happily ever after!
"Beauty and the Beast: A 30th Celebration" Release Date
The two-hour-long special was filmed live at Disney Studios and broadcast on ABC on Dec. 15.
Will "Beauty and the Beast: A 30th Celebration" Be on Disney+?
"Beauty and the Beast: A 30th Celebration" is available to stream on Disney+ starting Dec. 16.
"Beauty and the Beast: A 30th Celebration" Poster
H.E.R. posted a first-look poster for the special on Instagram on Nov. 10 featuring her and Groban in modernized, simple versions of Belle and the Beast's iconic dance scene outfits. H.E.R. is clothed in a yellow pantsuit with a gorgeous, flowing overskirt. Meanwhile, Groban wears a royal-blue cape coat over black pants.