Live-Action Beauty and the Beast Confirmed as a Musical, Casts Emma Thompson and Kevin Kline

By  · Published on March 17th, 2015

Walt Disney Productions

Despite the success of the mostly song-free Cinderella remake released over the weekend, we’ve received confirmation that Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast will be a musical, just like the studio’s 1991 animated version. I was pretty certain of this, partly because of star Emma Watson’s comments a while back about loving to sing the songs and partly because of recent casting additions Josh Gad (LeFou) and Luke Evans (Gaston) being known for their vocal talents. Now I can be certain, thanks to reports like Variety’s, which all seem to be burying the exciting details about Alan Menken returning to the fairy tale for a new score and new songs.

Menken won two Oscars for the original, which was also nominated for Best Picture. He took one for Best Original Score and then another for the title number “Beauty and the Beast” being named Best Original Song, an honor he shared with lyricist Howard Ashman, who died before the film’s release (they were also together nominated for the songs “Belle” and “Be Our Guest”). Some of those 24-year-old tunes will be used again for the remake. I’d heard that they’d also bring in some of the seven songs written for the Broadway stage adaptation by Ashman and Tim Rice (joint Oscar winners for Aladdin), but that’s unconfirmed. According to Variety, there will at least be some new exclusives by the same duo. That makes sense if Disney hopes for some repeat Academy Awards recognition.

Two new actors joined the ensemble for the remake, and both of them are good with a tune. Emma Thompson will play Mrs. Potts, who in the 1991 release was voiced by Angela Lansbury and responsible for the title Oscar-winning tune. It’s not known if she’ll be portraying a teapot via performance capture. And Kevin Kline is Maurice, the inventor father of Belle (Watson) and reason for her imprisonment by the Beast (Dan Stevens). The character had little involvement with the songs of the animated movie, but he does have a duet with Belle in the stage musical.

Beauty and the Beast, which Bill Condon is directing, also now has a release date of exactly two years from today: March 17, 2017. Presumably, though, there is no St. Patrick’s Day connection in the movie.

Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.