Taye Diggs has a thing for the Disney animated classic "Beauty and the Beast," so he's pleased as punch to sing along with the Oscar-winning score beside a cast that includes Zooey Deschanel, Rebel Wilson, Jane Krakowski, Anthony Evans and Kelsey Grammer at the Hollywood Bowl on May 25 and 26.
Diggs will sing the role of the arrogant malefactor Gaston, whose self-perceived charms fail to woo Deschanel's Belle. The film will play on a massive screen behind the stage during the performance, accompanied by a live orchestra.
The Times dished with Diggs about the family-friendly festivities for this lightly edited conversation:
When was the first time you saw "Beauty and the Beast," and how did it affect you?
I can't remember when the Disney film version of "Beauty and the Beast" came out, but I remember knowing and feeling like the story was something different for its time. I loved the duality of emotion in the Beast character.
Is appearing at the Hollywood Bowl a dream come true for a performer?
I've never performed at the Hollywood Bowl, but I have seen performances and enjoyed an experience that was specific and unique unto itself — especially compared to traditional theaters.
What was the first show you saw at the Bowl?
I can't remember. I did just see John Legend there and was reminded how entertaining and family-oriented the experience was, from both the performer and audience member's perspective. The added energy of the outdoors makes such a difference.
You're singing as Gaston. Is it fun being a villain?
I've always been attracted to the role of Gaston. The voice part is in my range and I've never played a character who was both comic relief as well as antagonistic. I also enjoy the nontraditional casting choice.
What's your favorite song from the show and why?
The title song. I love the big power duets from the '90s.
You're working with an incredible cast. What's your favorite thing about this ensemble?
I'm excited to be working with such a reputable cast. I've always been partial to ensemble work because it gives life to the performance. The bonding energy is both necessary and so, so much fun.
If you were to pick one place to celebrate after the performance, where would it be?
I've been traveling a lot lately, so I'd love to celebrate with my little boy, Walker. He loves the Blue Dog burger joint in Sherman Oaks.
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
‘Beauty and the Beast’
Where: Hollywood Bowl, 2301 N. Highland Ave., L.A.
When: 8:15 p.m. May 25-26
Tickets: $42.50 and up
Information: (323) 850-2000, www.hollywoodbowl.com