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Beauty and the Beast: An enchanting retelling of a familiar love story

Once upon a time, there was a self-centered, haughty prince living in a majestic castle in the middle of the dark woods.

One night, an old woman knocked on the castle’s gargantuan door, begging to be accommodated for the night. The prince, selfish as he was, refused to let the old woman stay despite the cold and harsh environment of the forest.
She begged a second time, telling him not to make judgments based on one’s appearance, but the prince rejected and banished her. Little did he know that the old woman was an enchantress putting him to test. A few moments later, she transformed to reveal her true self.
Realizing his mistake, the prince knelt before her and begged for her forgiveness. But it was too late. She cast a spell on him and turned him into a hideous beast. The spell would be undone only if he would learn to love and someone would love him in return before the last petal of the rose from the enchantress falls.

Many miles beyond the woods, there was a beautiful lady living with her genius old man in a provincial town. She was so lovable that a muscular over-confident hunter named Gaston was allured by her beauty. But she always turned him down.
One night, as her father was traveling to an invention fair, he got lost in the forest upon getting attacked by a pack of wolves. He found the castle and knocked on the door for shelter. He found himself talking to a human clock and human candelabra. When the Beast found out, he was so enraged he made the old man a prisoner, believing that he was an intruder intending to reveal his secret.
When the young lady knew of his father’s disappearance, she searched for him in the woods where she chanced upon the castle. She entered it and found her father locked away in a corner.
Realizing there was another intruder, the Beast got angry and attempted to banish the lady. But the lady begged the beast to release her father and take her in his stead. Upon hearing this, the Beast commanded his servants to send the old man out of the castle without letting the lady say goodbye to him.
Having heard this fairy tale many times, we know what happened next.
There was a thick barrier between the main characters at first, but it eventually broke down, giving way to a love that conquered everything. And just like other fairy tales, the Beast and the lady lived happily ever after.
This is the story of Belle and the prince. This is the story of Beauty and the Beast.
For the first time, the original Broadway stage musical adaptation of this ever famous love story has come to the Philippines to create a spectacular world of romance for the Filipino audience at the Cultural Center of the Philippines Main Theater.
Indeed, the musical is fascinating from start to finish, but I’d like to zero in on several elements that stood out.
Stage design
Sure, it’s a Broadway musical. They’ve got the budget to afford a majestic stage design. But it definitely takes craftsmanship, creativity and imagination to yield a masterful output that will make the audience imagine that they are physically in the story. Alongside this, skillfully carrying out the director’s precise instructions is essential in achieving a seamless transition of scenes onstage. And they’ve achieved it.
The enchantress
The musical opened with a short narration of how the haughty prince turned into a hideous beast. The old woman who later revealed herself as an enchantress was an essential character. Onstage, there was a hunched woman begging the prince for temporary shelter. With a few flicker of lights, the hunched woman was replaced by an approximately 10-feet tall enchantress in a gown that extended to the stage’s floor. Putting this scene at the beginning was a total turn on.
‘Be Our Guest’ number
The story was about the unexpected romance that sprouted between Belle and the Beast. But among all the scenes that unfolded, my personal favorite is the “Be Our Guest” number where in all the house servants gleefully sang and gracefully danced as they welcomed Belle to the castle. It was a magnificent showcasing of the performers’ dancing prowess as well as of the designer’s craftsmanship. Towards the end of the performance, two huge bottles blew out smoke akin to champagne bottles spewing their contents. It concluded with party poppers (?) shooting out glimmering strips into the audience who applauded the performance.

Another favorite scene of mine is Mrs. Potts (head of kitchen who turned into a tea pot) singing “Beauty and the Beast” while Belle and the Beast was enjoying their moment together. How can I ever forget one of the songs I grew up with? I just wish Belle and the Beast sang the song in a duet.
Levitation
He learned to love. Belle reciprocated his love. But the last petal of the rose fell.
Just when Belle was about to lose hope because she thought she was losing the love of her life, an amazing thing occurred. The beast levitated and rotated while suspended in the air (yes, this happened onstage). With the flickering lights, the Beast returned to his true form–a handsome prince Belle didn’t recognize at first. It was one of the most amazing, most admirable, and most applause-worthy scenes of the two-hour musical.
True, Beauty and the Beast is a familiar fairy tale we grew up with. But the musical is an enchanting retelling of a love that conquers all. I’d say you must see it for yourself.


The musical stages until February 8, 2015 at 8 pm, with matinees at 2 pm every Saturday and Sunday. For ticket prices and reservations, visit https://www.ticketworld.com.ph/Online/beautyandthebeast.

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Shrek the Musical—an energetic mix of contagious humor

“It’s a big bright beautiful world…”

What the world presents is quite different from the picture formed by expectations in your head. This reality—and other life’s ironies—dawned on Shrek and Princess Fiona, but the effect on their lives is something that makes everyone wonder, “Why did I not ever wish for this to happen?”
Shrek is a big, fat, ugly Ogre who was sent out by his parents at the tender age of seven. He knew from the start that there’s a “big, bright, beautiful world” out there—but not for him. He thinks that only the physically beautiful deserve it; not someone who’s hideous looking.
Princess Fiona has been locked up in a tower since she was a child. Every day, she expects that her Prince Charming will climb up the tower and rescue her from the solitary loneliness that has been her companion.
Lord Farquaad, the vain, short ruler of Duloc realizes that he needs to rescue Princess Fiona from the dragon-guarded tower and marry her, so he could be king. But he didn’t want to do the mission himself.
They are unsuspecting that their lives will change one fateful day. Sent by Lord Farquaad shortly after arriving in Duloc, Shrek, together with his new-found quirky friend, Donkey, embarks on a mission he accepts with the sole purpose of recovering his swamp from the unjust ruler. The three has different expectations. Little do they know that their stories are written with a different plot.

Photo by Philippine Star
Originally shown in Broadway, Shrek theMusical performs live in Manila starting on Sept. 19 till Oct. 12 at the Meralco Theater. I had the opportunity to watch the Shrektacular show during the preview night on Sept. 18.
I couldn’t contain my happiness as I was served with a cup full of firsts in a single night. I haven’t seen any of the Shrek films, so I absolutely had no idea about the story. Another first was watching a live musical. And it was also my first time at the Meralco theater.
So, how did the musical go?
First of, there’s no doubt that the story is good—perfect for both young and old audiences.
Second, the characters’ costumes and the props are magnificent; the stage design, spectacular. On the technical side, the audio is undoubtedly excellent, as everything is clearly heard. The lighting effects are well-planned and -arranged , adding to the overall grandiosity of the production.
For the cast’s performance, I give each of them two thumbs up for an undeniably great one. All of them have successfully immersed themselves in the story and took the spectators to another world. Not to mention the synchronized movements that I bet are difficult to memorize and the coordination that all of them have skillfully mastered.
Looking closely, however, one may see the glitches in the blocking, but these are too minor to affect the musical.
Starring in Shrek the Musical are Rycharde Everley as Shrek, Shiela Valderrama-Martinez as Princess Fiona, Nyoy Volante as Donkey, Jett Pangan as Lord Farquaad, Nel Gomez as Pinocchio and Carla Guevara-Laforteza as Dragon. Shrek is directed by Bobby Garcia.
Applause reverberates around the theater at the end of each song. Resounding laughter can also be heard from the audience with each quirk. These reactions are enough to conclude that Shrek the Musical is a must-see.
Overall, I offer a standing ovation to the cast and crew for pulling off such an energetic and humorous night of story telling.
You may buy tickets at ticketworld.com.ph. For details, call Ticketworld 891-9999.
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