Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, one of the longest-running shows ever in Broadway, continues its successful run at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Main Theater. On Sunday, February 1, 2015, my brother, Jun, John and I trooped to CCP to watch the spectacular musical based on a romantic animated film that was based on an 18th century fairy tale. Our 8pm show was sponsored by the University of the Philippines Vanguard Inc (UPVI). Admittedly, I am not a fan of musicals and I have not watched the film adaptation in its entirety, but I came with an open heart and mind. I knew that at the very least, I would enjoy looking at the costumes and at Gaston. 🙂 After almost three hours of gratifying experience through exquisitely executed numbers, ingeniously designed kinetic set and dizzying hip movements courtesy of Lumiere, I became a convert. It really is a beautiful love story that has come to life in a vivacious manner.
I will neither write the synopsis nor the description of dance movements because it will be a futile exercise (my lack of knowledge will be as transparent as gauze), so I will write about some random things that I watched during the show.
Belle. Hilary Maiberger plays the beautiful and book-loving barrio lass Belle to perfection. She is the embodiment of I-speak-softly-but-I-carry-a-big-stick character who is caring and charming to her father and the enchanted objects but has the balls to stand up to Gaston and Beast when necessary. She looks like an adorable doll especially in her yellow gown while dancing with Beast. Kudos to Belle for being a voracious reader because we need literate women with imagination to inspire children to do more than play games on their phone or tablet.
Belle is a girl a guy would take home to meet his parents
Beast. Beast is played by Darick Pead. I am not sure what happened in the film adaptation but our Beast is an adorable one. 🙂 He parodies Belle as he shrieks and acts like a prepubescent girl. His past as a spoiled brat must have contributed to the easy transition as Belle in this particular scene. Even as Beast, he is not, well, beastly. He acts like an entitled child (since he was a prince) but his actions do not have malicious intent. I find it cute (insert eye rolls here) when he is unsure of himself (which is understandable given his physical appearance) and how to act with Belle around. Beast’s camaraderie with his enchanted servants, especially with the suave Lumiere, is delightful.
The scene where Belle reads King Arthur to him is one of my favorites. When he said something along the line of “I told you so” (I cannot remember the exact words) when Arthur became king is priceless. It is like a kid gaining some confidence or earning the respect of someone in authority and wants to show off.
I just want to add that his transformation from a young prince to Beast is a little bit of a letdown because I saw a guy running to the left side of the stage right after the prince disappeared and just before Beast made his debut. His transformation from Beast to gorgeous long-haired prince was more successful with the help of blinding lights.
Beast is a complex character, but maybe not a guy a girl would take home to her parents unless her father is Hagrid. 🙂
Gaston. If there was an analogy test about the performances I have watched at CCP, it would look like this: Hilarion: Giselle :: _______ : Beauty and the Beast. _______ = Gaston. Yes, Gaston reminds me of Hilarion. Both are experienced hunters with clothes as tight as gloves that display every sinewy body part they have. Manliness emanates from every pore of their being, and they are just too aware of their effect on other people. They have women falling all over them but they want the fairest in town, propose to the fairest who turn them down repeatedly. Despite the setback, they continue to think that they are the bee’s knees. They have what Monsieur D’Arque said as superiority complex.
Adam Dietlein IS Gaston. He is handsome, tall and muscular. His portrayal is over-the-top funny so much so that I was grinning the whole time he was flexing his muscles while on top of a beer barrel. Gaston’s interaction with Lefou, played by Jordan Aragon, is very entertaining although it toes the line of being very physical. I think Lefou has a man crush on Gaston, and I cannot blame him if it is true.
Gaston is the perfect kayakap sa dilim for an hour or two. I imagine that his chiseled abs done by Greek sculptures of a bygone era are a thing of magic. He is similar to cotton candy, all fluff but no substance, but it is the best cotton candy at the carnival.
Lumiere. Hassan Nazari-Robati is Lumiere, the hip-shaking charismatic candelabra who uses z’s as if the words zisserzazzerzuzz and zenzizenzizenzic would be extinct tomorrow. He is a ladies’ man who is also a man’s man. As a ladies’ man, he is overly flirtatious with Babette the Feather Duster who is more than willing to reciprocate his public display of affection. Also, he is charming as Belle’s guide as they (and Cogsworth) tour the enchanted palace. As a man’s man, he helps Maurice, Belle’s father, to feel comfortable inside the palace and gives good advice to Beast on how to win the heart of Belle. His trick of lighting one of his candles or to shake his hips to emphasize something never gets old in my books.
Lumiere is a better version of Gaston. Even without Gaston’s sculpted abs, Lumiere is an eloquent companion who will not bore anyone to death by talking about himself and his biceps (it might be fun for the first five minutes). He is all fluff AND substance. He could be a guy a girl would introduce to her parents. I hope that the girl has no sisters or girl cousins.
Songs and Scenes
There are two songs that I can remember from the musical. The first one is “Gaston”, which is the fitting song for well, Gaston. Part of the lyrics goes “no one’s slick as Gaston/no one’s quick as Gaston” and other “no one (insert adjective/verb here) like Gaston” lines. The whole scene is a morale booster for Gaston right after Belle rejects his proposal. The villagers, led by Lefou, act as Gaston’s cheerleaders. There is a handsome tall guy in this scene that looks eerily similar to Gaston. So I wonder, is it really true that “no one in town is half manly as Gaston”? And what happened to, “and every last inch of me’s covered with hair”? I did not see any hair! Hehehe. Anyway, it is a well-executed song that is a picker-upper for the audience, especially for the women. 🙂 The other song or number I like is “Be Our Guest”. It is a dizzying spectacle of awesomeness! I did not know that utensils could look so good! The spoons, forks and knives dance in unison and the plates kick their legs in the air with a mixture of great precision and finesse. This song shows the contrast between the happy-go-lucky Lumiere and the tightly wound Cogsworth. As the former is having fun entertaining Belle, the latter is busy sweeping imaginary dirt or mopping the floor. I think it is the most applauded song in the show.
The set is virtually in motion. The village houses, the bookstore and the bar have that “irreversible” thing going on. The front part looks like the façade but as it rotates 180 degrees, the inside of the structure appears. It is like having two props in one! The set-up changes are quick as lightning, partly due to the quarter-naked men in white tights. 🙂 Are they supposed to be gargoyles? Wolves? Whatever or whoever they were, they were nice to look at. They made me use my binoculars more than once. Speaking of wolves, the parts where wolves appeared, when they attack Maurice and Belle and Beast in separate occasions, are mind-boggling. The wolves look like light as air while in motion yet they look substantial when they make contact with Beast. I do not know the proper terms to call these props, but they are beautifully made and are used to the hilt.
Before and After the Show
Disney’s Beauty and the Beast will be shown at CCP Main Theater until February 8, 2015.
For more information about UP Vanguard Inc., please visit www.upvanguard.org.