Beauty and the Beast is a timeless story that many of us grew up with. We know the characters, the scenes, and the songs like the familiar rooms of a well-loved home, and it was a joy to revisit them in the live-action remake that was shown this year. What we seem to have forgotten is that it is one of many interpretations. Now, we can watch a different take on this story of true love and selflessness with Repertory Philippines’ charming stage adaptation for kids.
Repertory Philippines’ Beauty and the Beast is a completely different entity from the Disney version we know, but it’s what makes it an exciting and thrilling watch. Yes, Peter del Valle and John Ahearn’s book is the same: a father wanders in an enchanted garden and picks a rose for his young daughter Belle. The father angers the owner, a beast who makes him promise to bring Belle as payment for the enchanted rose he stole.
The story is based on a French fairy tale written in 1740 by Gabrielle Villanueve. This musical’s version is the one closest to the source material, so watching this is like stepping back in time to see the story at its purest.
What differentiates this version of Beauty and the Beast is the music. And what a delight the setlist is. The score was composed by Michael Valenti and the lyrics written by Elsa Rael, and they had a sweet and infectious beat that really sticks to your mind. My favorites are “I’ve Dreamed,” where Beauty sings about the fantastic dreams she has; “When We’re Married,” a number which Beauty’s sisters Mimi and Fifi sing to one-up each other when they marry wealthy men; and “Laughter,” an interactive song where Beauty and the Beast ask the audience to sing along with them.
The score was perfectly executed by director Joy Virata and a stellar cast, led by Cara Barredo and George Schulze as the titular characters. Barredo had the sweetness required of the role (I can totally imagine her as a preschool teacher), but Schulze showed a different side to the Beast. Instead of the angry character we saw in Disney, Schulze’s version was more sad and lonely.
They were complemented by Arnel Carrion as the father, Jillian Ita-as as Mimi, and Maya Encila as Fifi. For me, what truly made the show memorable were Steven Hotchkiss and Hans Eckstein as Jacques and Pierre, Mimi and Fifi’s flamboyant suitors. They were a joy to watch and their portrayal of effeminate men were comical but not heavy handed or insensitive. I think they were my favorite characters.
The costumes and set were just as beautiful. Bonsai Cielo curated an exquisite collection of costumes for the cast, especially for Beast. I was worried that his mask and costume would look gaudy, but the ensemble Schulze wore was elegantly made and polished. Another highlight was the Roses. Six or seven cast members were draped in lovely green sheaths and a large rose on top of their heads, and they looked absolutely delicate.
Meanwhile, Joey Mendoza breathed life into the set by creating a decadent set reminiscent of 18th century France. The production was the perfect setting for an impeccable cast and a memorable score.
Yes, Repertory Philippines’ Beauty and the Beast is targeted towards children, but you don’t need to be a child to appreciate this. I went with a friend and we found ourselves chuckling throughout the show.
This post is in partnership with Repertory Philippines. Beauty and the Beast will be staged at Onstage Theater, at the 2nd Floor, Greenbelt 1, Paseo de Roxas corner Legazpi Street Makati City, from August 12 to December 14, 2017. For inquiries, you may call Rep at 843-3570, and Ticketworld at 891-9999 or log on to www.ticketworld.com.ph. For updates and show schedules, log on to www.repertoryphilippines.ph. You may also follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
All photos provided by Repertory Philippines