BWW Review: Tale as Old as Time, Retold
Disclaimer: This is not the Disney version.
Manila, Philippines--If you think you will be watching the same "Beauty and the Beast" movie you've seen recently starring Emma Watson or the version where you heard Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson's voices during the end credits, you're in for a different yet as magical treat.
Celebrating its 25th anniversary, with Founder-Artistic Director Joy Virata at the helm, REP Theater for Young Audiences (RTYA) retells the timeless story of "Beauty and the Beast" with book by Peter del Valle and John Ahearn, music by Michael Valenti, and lyrics by Elsa Rael.
As imparted by Virata, the story of "Beauty and the Beast" has been told a lot of times; however, in this production, the story is given a different color. The dark tone of the films and other versions of the story are replaced by a magical and colorful presentation. It seems like fairy tales come to be in one grand production: "Beauty and the Beast" meets "Cinderella."
The stage design by Joey Gonzalez-Mendoza is excellent especially given the space at Onstage Theatre and its proximity to the audience. If you think you have had enough of the story, the stage will definitely make you want to come back for more. The stage itself is a masterpiece.
Beauty (played by Alana Vicente, with Cara Barredo and Maya Encila alternating for the role) is such a delight to watch. She embodies the name she was given. Her charisma shows especially during the interaction with the audience. This girl is pure grace and beauty.
On the other hand, Beast (played by Jos Jalbuena, with Arnel Carrion and George Schulze alternating), is swoon-worthy whether with the Beast costume or none. The teenage girls are screaming every time he comes out. His costume is not too menacing yet believable enough that you think that a beast is actually on stage. It is so amazing how the actor sings and moves with the seemingly heavy costume.
The secondary casts are outstanding: the sisters (yes, Beauty has sisters in this version) are hilarious and so are their fiancés; while the father gives a more serious tone to the very light story since he was the trigger behind everything that has happened, and probably has the most well-defined intention among all characters.
The roses are given more emphasis here. This time, the roses are loved very much by the Beast that he becomes angry when the father of Beauty picks one for her. The red roses, like the stage, are captivating and are even more fascinating if you think about how they have managed to create the costumes. On the other hand, the silver rose brings the elegance of ballet to the production.
Again, despite not hearing classic songs from the movie version, the music is very easy to listen to and catchy, with lyrics appropriate to the young audience it serves. Overall, the singing is good.
However, even with all the gorgeousness of this musical, people may miss the abundance of moving and talking furniture. There were only still chairs and tables.
"Beauty and the Beast" is truly a wonderful showcase of the power of theater. Repertory Philippines (REP), now celebrating its 50th year, surely made another hit that will inspire and fascinate children and adults alike.
RTYA's production of "Beauty and the Beast" runs until December 14 at Onstage Theatre, Greenbelt 1, Paseo de Roxas St., Makati City.
For tickets, call REP at (632) 843 3750 or visit TicketWorld.com.ph.
Photos: Repertory Philippines, Joey Mendoza