Beauty and the Beast in Manila

Article by Isabel Quah

Wouldn’t it be nice to relive the nonchalant days when school work, CAS hours and college apps were the least of your worries? Back when Disney ruled over every inch of your soul, and the catchy tunes of each film played in your head on repeat? Thankfully, you can relive your childhood by watching live stage productions of popular animated Disney hits as they take to the stage.  Celebrating its 20th anniversary as a stage production, the international tour of Beauty and the Beast premiered on January 9, 2015 in the Cultural Center of the Philippines, and was extended until February 8. The hit musical is an adaptation of the popular 1991 Disney animated classic, which was based off of the 1756 fairytale by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont, and boasts songs of Alan Menkin who was also the musical mastermind behind the songs of the Little Mermaid, Aladdin and Tangled. The musical is the ninth-longest running production in Broadway history, played in 13 different countries and grossing a jaw-dropping amount of over $1.4 billion worldwide. Despite the great reviews, the production faced two major challenges during its tour in Manila, including having to compensate for numerous show cancellations due to the Papal visit, and for the grim national mood following the recent Mamasampano massacre. Despite this, the musical was a hit amongst the young and old alike.

Some people within the ISM community who had the opportunity to watch the musical affirmed this production as being a Broadway sensation. Drama teacher Ms. Monsod regards the overall experience as being definitely worthwhile. “I wanted to show my son, who is of a generation accustomed to cinematic effects, some live theatre magic for a change!”she says. She adds on that, despite this being a touring production (and therefore scaled back from the original version), the singing, acting, and production design still had the “wow” quality. She especially enjoyed the cleverly-designed puppet wolves, as well as the hunky and hilariously hammy Adam Dietlein, who was perfectly cast as Gaston.

Junior Jigmey Penjor supports this, stating: “The actor who played Gaston was amazing… I was a large fan of the animated movie as a kid, and after watching this production it really met my expectations.”

Throughout the past few years the Philippines has brought numerous sensational musicals to the stage of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, including the Phantom of the Opera, Wicked, and Chicago. Culturally, the Philippines embraces the Fine Arts with much enthusiasm, as seen by Filipinos’ obsession with karaoke and popular telenovelas. In the future, hopefully the ISM community can look forward to more exciting productions on Philippine soil.