You've never heard a more rock-infused "tale as old as time." Director Jon M. Chu took to Instagram this morning to share a first listen of the R&B singer/songwriter H.E.R. performing the title song from Beauty and the Beast. Chu is the executive producer behind the upcoming Beauty and the Beast: A 30th Celebration, which will air on ABC December 15 and then will stream on Disney+ December 16. H.E.R. will play Belle in the special, which will pair scenes from the 1991 animated film with staged, live performances.
In the promo clip posted to Instagram, H.E.R. picks up an electric guitar that is sitting next to the enchanted rose from Beauty and the Beast. Strumming it, while wearing a yellow power suit, she sings the opening lines of the title song: "Tale as old as time...."
As Chu wrote on Instagram, "A tale as old as time but fresher than ever." It seems that audiences can expect a more modern take on the songs from the classic film. Watch the H.E.R. clip below.
In addition to the H.E.R. clip, Groban shared a clip on Instagram of him performing "Beauty and the Beast." Groban will play the Beast in the upcoming special. In the clip, Groban puts on a blue coat (reminiscent of the coat that the Beast wears in the animated film) and sings, "Beauty and the Beast." Watch the Groban clip below.
Beauty and the Beast: A 30th Celebration will also feature Broadway favorite Joshua Henry as Gaston, David Alan Grier as Cogsworth, EGOT winner Rita Moreno as the narrator, Martin Short (It's Only a Play) as Lumiere, Jon Jon Briones (Miss Saigon) as Maurice, Shania Twain as Mrs. Potts, Rizwan Manji (Schitt's Creek) as LeFou, and Leo Abelo Perry as Chip.
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.
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.