No Lumière and Cogsworth in this version, but it was entertaining just the same.
The tale of Beauty and the Beast isn’t technically as old as time, but it’s definitely one that everyone knows very well. Younger generations are showing a revived interest in story, partially thanks to the recently released Disney film starring Emma Watson and all the reruns of the animated movie.
While we never really get tired of a classic fairytale, it can be a bit exhausting to see the same plot being rehashed over and over again (as Hollywood tends to do nowadays).
So when I walked into the Onstage theater at Greenbelt 1 last Aug. 12, I was fully prepared to sit through yet another round of Be Our Guest. These expectations quickly came crashing down when I discovered that this show would be different. It was like I was in a Beauty and the Beast AU (alternate universe) where Beauty (not Belle!) had two bratty sisters named Fifi and Mimi, who both had suitors named Jacques and Pierre .
As it turns out, the REP Theater for Young Audiences (RTYA) directed by Joy Virata adapted their production from a book written by Peter Del Valle and John Ahearn, which was based off of the original French novel of the same title. Which means that what I was witnessing was actually canon.
This version was similar in that it began with a loving father who, upon picking a rose from a bush, angers the owner of the garden — the Beast. In exchange for his freedom, the father sends his youngest daughter Beauty to live in the Beast’s castle.
The rest of the show was less familiar, as it didn’t feature characters like Lumière, Cogsworth, or Mrs. Potts. What followed was a plot that included a evil stepsister-esque angle and a couple of turned-down marriage proposals. This didn’t take away any of the story’s magic, though.
The musical numbers had all the energy and cheer that you’d expect from a show directed at a younger crowd. It was a fun treat for the kids in the audience when the cast broke the fourth wall by asking them to help them teach the Beast how to laugh.
Cara Barredo was a perfect fit for the ever-optimistic Beauty. She played the cheerful and innocent princess card to the T, to the delight of all the kids in the audience. George Schulze was a more endearing (and less frightening) Beast. You could say that the character of the Beast was way more relatable in this version; kind of like that guy in your science class who’s too awkward to make the first move. The Beast (though fluffy and cute like a teddy bear thanks to his costume), was seemingly aggressive on the outside, but soft and fluffy on the inside. His interactions with Beauty amused many of us, as he spoke like any awkward guy trying to ask his crush out. He was all of us, TBH.
Joking sensibilities aside, RTYA’s Beauty and the Beast was a welcome twist on the classic story that we all know and love.
Beauty and the Beast runs until December 14 at the Onstage theater in Greenbelt 1, Makati City.