Beauty and the Beast: A 30th Celebration

A star-studded special celebrates the 30th anniversary of Disney's Beauty and the Beast

Be our guest

In the same style used for ABC’s 2019 television staging of The Little Mermaid, new live-action sequences will be combined with portions of the original animated film in the network’s latest musical special, Beauty and the Beast: A 30th Celebration. Technically, it’s the 31st anniversary of the 1991 classic that included the voices of the late Angela Lansbury and Jerry Orbach among others… but the saga of Belle and the prince cursed to be the Beast has stood the test of time, with the Disney film earning Oscars for the title song and overall score. Beauty and the BeastCBCA large and diverse cast has been recruited for the live-action parts of this new rendering, led by Oscar- and Grammy-winner H.E.R. as Belle and Josh Groban as the Beast. Also on board: the much-honoured Rita Moreno as narrator; Canadian country icon Shania Twain as Mrs. Potts; Canadian comedy legend Martin Short as Lumière; David Alan Grier as Cogsworth; Joshua Henry as Gaston; Rizwan Manji as Le Fou; Jon Jon Briones as Maurice; and Leo Abelo Perry as Chip. 

Variety-show veteran Hamish Hamilton, who also guided the aforementioned Little Mermaid revision, is directing the new Beauty and the Beast. Co-star Grier says it was significant to move from a rehearsal studio to the Disney lot, and he reports that the set looks “really great, beautiful and impressive.” He relates the experience to the live telecasts of The Wiz and A Christmas Story that he was in: “It’s all kind of within the same realm, but this [special] is definitely unique.” Beauty and the BeastCBCThough Grier enjoys being in the new cast of Beauty and the Beast, he hasn’t necessarily gotten to work with everyone. He explains, “Josh Henry’s stuff is kind of separate from Martin [Short] and me. My scenes are mostly with Martin and H.E.R. and Shania Twain. And I love Martin; that’s really why I did this project. When they called, I said, ‘If Martin’s really going to do it, I’ll say yes today.’” 

A 2020 Tony winner for A Soldier’s Play, Grier has had an active year, having also co-starred in FX’s limited series The Patient with Steve Carell and filmed the musical version of The Color Purple that’s due in theatres late next year. However, he knows Beauty and the Beast is its own creature. 

“The technical parts are probably the most challenging,” Grier notes. “It’s a huge stage with dancers, little kids, technicians, everything . . . and I’m trying not to be in the way. ‘Be Our Guest’ is a big number, but it looks really cool, and what the director and choreographer have shown us is really exciting.” 

Beauty and the Beast: A 30th Anniversary Celebration premieres Thursday, December 15 on CBC & ABC