James Corden assembled his his Crosswalk Theater Company at the intersection of Beverly Blvd. and Genesee Ave. in L.A. Wednesday for a special performance on The Late Late Show.
"Gather round. You're probably wondering why I'm holding this rose. The reason I am holding this rose is the production we will be performing is a tale as old as time, a song as old as rhyme. We will be performing Beauty and the Beast!" he said. "When choosing our next production, I wanted to make sure we were challenged even further as a cast." To do that, Corden asked three of the live-action film's stars—Luke Evans, Josh Gad and Dan Stevens—to join the cast.
"After all that time on set, it's going to be amazing to perform in front of a live audience again," said Stevens, who shared Evans' glee. Gad was honored to be involved, gushing, "To be invited by James to perform at the crosswalk outside of CBS—that's what we call a dream come true."
"Wait," Stevens said. "We're performing where?"
During rehearsals, Corden did a series of trust exercises. "It's always difficult when newcomers join the production. I have to put them through their paces in the parking lot," he said. "That's the closest you'll ever get to being out there on the crosswalk. As Gad rehearsed "Be Our Guest," Corden hurled dodge balls at the actor. "Josh, that could've been a school bus," he said.
Stevens had to walk and talk like Beast, which seemed to confused him. "He just gave us the exact same roles we had in the movie," he said," so I don't know why we had to do any of that."
Because Emma Watson was unavailable, Corden cast himself in the lead role. "Daniel Day-Lewis played Abraham Lincoln. Meryl Streep played Margaret Thatcher. James Corden played Belle," he said. "In many ways, those three will always be regarded as similar—if not the same."
After spirited performances of "Belle" and "Gaston," it was time for the company's show-stopping number, "Be Our Guest." Ewan McGregor was M.I.A., so Gad—who plays LeFou in the movie—played the part of Lumière. "Interestingly enough, I didn't get to play this part in the movie, and I'm actually kind of glad, because who wants to do it front of millions of people in a film when you can do it in front of half a dozen Lyft and Uber drivers here?" he asked. After the performance ended, he said, "That was tough, because you want to be welcoming. You want to say, 'Be our guest!' At the same time, you kind of want to say, 'Stay there! Don't run me over!'"
Corden changed into Belle's ball gown for "Beauty and the Beast," which brought tears to the cast members' eyes. Looking him up and down—and channeling Gaston—Evans said, "I would."
Stevens, who'd been apprehensive, was thrilled with the performance. "Oh, my God! I was wrong! That was incredible. That was the most invigorating thing I've ever done," he raved. "I crossed that road and on the other side was everything I love about theater...and a gas station."
After previously putting on productions of Grease, The Lion King and Phantom of the Opera, Corden was confident Beauty and the Beast would go down in history. "People will say, 'Where were you when the Crosswalk Theater Company performed Beauty and the Beast?'" the late-night host imagined. "I'll say, 'Well, I was on Beverly and Genesee...running late for the dentist."