According to a report in Variety, ABC's upcoming hybrid animated-live action presentation of Disney's Beauty and the Beast has found its Cogsworth: Tony winner David Alan Grier. Set for a December 15 premiere on ABC that will stream on Disney+ from December 16, the event is expected to resemble 2019's The Little Mermaid Live, which paired scenes from the 1989 animated film with staged, live performances.
Grier joins the previously announced Josh Groban as the titular Beast, alongside R&B superstar H.E.R. as Belle, current Into the Woods star Joshua Henry as the dastardly Gaston, and EGOT winner Rita Moreno as the evening's narrator. Jon M. Chu, film director of In the Heights and Wicked, will executive produce the special, and Hamish Hamilton (The Little Mermaid Live, The 74th Primetime Emmy Awards) will direct. Further casting is to be announced.
Stage and screen star Grier's Broadway credits include Dreamgirls, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Race, and Porgy and Bess. Grier won a 2020 Tony Award for his performance in A Soldier's Play, and he previously starred as The Lion in NBC's live broadcast of The Wiz. Grier will be back on the big screen in 2023 as Reverend Avery in the movie musical adaptation of Broadway's The Color Purple.
With a screenplay by Linda Woolverton and a score by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, Beauty and the Beast released in 1991 and was famously described by New York Times theatre critic Frank Rich as "the best Broadway score" of the year, despite being a film. Based on the classic fairy tale, the work would make its way to the stage, Disney's first Broadway outing, in 1994, becoming a massive hit and running until 2007. The work has continued to be produced worldwide and received a live-action screen remake in 2017. No word yet if the upcoming TV version will include any of the new songs written for the musical's stage and live-action film adaptations, most of which feature lyrics by Tim Rice and music by Menken.