Five-time Grammy-winning recording artist H.E.R. will star as Belle in Disney and ABC's upcoming live Beauty and the Beast 30th anniversary special. 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.
As previously announced, In the Heights and Wicked film director Jon M. Chu will executive produce the special with Hamish Hamilton (The Little Mermaid Live, The 74th Primetime Emmy Awards) directing. Further casting is to be announced.
The special will not be H.E.R.'s first foray into musical theatre. The "I Can't Breathe" singer recently wrapped filming on the upcoming film version of Broadway's The Color Purple, which will feature H.E.R. as Squeak.
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.