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Four years after Disney's live-action adaptation of its animated classic Beauty and the Beast hit theaters, a long-teased follow-up has finally, officially materialized. The House of Mouse announced Tuesday that it has given the greenlight to a Disney+ prequel series that will reunite co-stars Josh Gad and Luke Evans to explore the early friendship of LeFou and Gaston.
The eight-episode series, which will retain the musical elements of the original film and its live-action counterpart, is set to begin filming next spring, and will show us how the unlikely duo became an inseparable pair in the years before Belle discovered a rundown castle, an enchanted rose, and a prince cursed to live as a beast. In addition to starring in the series, Gad is also executive producer, writer, and co-showrunner alongside Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz.
“For anyone who’s ever wondered how a brute like Gaston and a goof like LeFou could have ever become friends and partners, or how a mystical enchantress came to cast that fateful spell on the prince-turned-beast, this series will finally provide those answers ... and provoke a whole new set of questions,” Gary Marsh, president and chief creative officer of Disney Branded Television, said in a press release.
That new set of questions Marsh teased will revolve around Gaston and LeFou, of course, but they'll also involve the life and desires of an all-new character. The series will introduce newcomer Briana Middleton (who also stars in Amazon's upcoming The Tender Bar) as Tilly, LeFou's stepsister, whose presence ignites the series' core story when a "surprising revelation" brings to light secrets from her past.
"While the mysteries of the past are uncovered and the dangers of the present grow, old friends and new enemies reveal that this familiar kingdom harbors many secrets," Disney's announcement teased.
Gad and Evans are, of course, key players in making this story a Beauty and the Beast reunion, but they're not the only major creative forces from past incarnations of the story at work here. Composer Alan Menken, an EGOT-winning legend who worked on the original animated classic with his late collaborator, the great Howard Ashman, will provide the soundtrack for the series, while Tangled lyricist Glenn Slater will write lyrics for the songs in the first episode.
The new series, operating under the simple working title of Beauty and the Beast, does not yet have a release date, but this announcement brings an end to four years of speculation about a possible future (or past, as the case may be) for Gaston and LeFou as standalone characters. Much like Marvel Studios, Disney is wielding its streaming service as an expansion pack of sorts for some of its most popular stories, and it's easy to see this series leading to additional spinoffs from recent live-action and animated successes further down the line.