Beauty and the Beast might be a tale as old as time, but its songs are true classics as well, and everyone who’s anyone is waiting to hear how they’ll sound in the new, live-action version. It’s an unenviable position for the cast to be in; not least, Emma Watson, who has a tough act to follow. As the original Belle, Paige O’Hara was an established musical star, whereas this is Watson’s first major singing role. A short clip of Watson’s vocals in an earlier TV spot showed she can hold a tune okay, but now we have a better look (or listen) in the form of the film’s opening number, ‘Belle’.
As the villagers greet each other and go about their daily business, Belle seems to drift through them all, stopping briefly for conversation but ultimately focused on returning the copy of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ that she has borrowed. As previous trailers and images have hinted; Beauty and the Beast is a highly stylized, slick, choreographed production, and the music from Alan Menken lends itself beautifully to that. Take a look at the clip, above.
It’s fantastic to see Beauty and the Beast being recreated so faithfully, and yet still in an entirely original way, and this clip perhaps holds the most promise so far for Bill Condon’s version. The animated movie belonged on stage, as evidenced in its success on Broadway and beyond, but Condon is, it seems, attempting to bring a heightened, theatrical version to the screen, where reality and necessity give way to fantasy and frivolity. Given that Beauty and the Beast is a classic, much-loved movie, it seems wise that he opted to keep it ‘Disneyfied’ rather than try to give it a realistic time frame and setting.
As the release of Beauty and the Beast draws ever closer, the promotion for the movie steps up, and the press tour kicked off in earnest today. Condon assembled in Paris with cast and crew from the movie, including Menken, whose full score will once again form the basis of the movie, along with new music and songs that he has written in collaboration with Tim Rice. Watson was also in attendance, with her Beast, Dan Stevens, and Luke Evans (Gaston) and Josh Gad (LeFou), and all assembled for a photo op (see the image above).
Given that the coming days will be heavy on promotional interviews, and the release of the soundtrack is only a little over two weeks away, it seems reasonable to expect that we might get more clips from the movie soon, showcasing the singing abilities of more cast members. We’ve already had a brief listen to Emma Thompson singing the titular track of Beauty and the Beast, but could we hear Ewan McGregor singing ‘Be Our Guest,’ maybe? We can only hope.