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Theatre Review (Singapore): ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ the Musical

beauty and the beast musical singaporeBeauty and the Beast, the musical based on the 1991 animated film of the same name, is running at the Marina Bay Sands Theatre from 21 March to 3 May 2015.

With a book by Linda Woolverton, music by Alan Menken, and lyrics by the late Howard Ashman, and with additional songs with music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Tim Rice, Beauty and the Beast tells the timeless fairy tale of book-loving Belle, who resides in a provincial town, but yearns for adventure.

A few years earlier, a vain, unloving and uncaring Prince insults an enchantress disguised as an old woman seeking shelter. The enchantress turns the Prince into the Beast, and his servants into household objects – a teapot, teacup, clock, feather duster, wardrobe, and candelabra. The enchantress gives the Beast a chance to break the spell, if he can find someone to love and to love him in return, before the last petal falls off a rose she gives him.

When Belle’s father is taken captive by the Beast, she offers herself in her dad’s place, and gives the Beast a lesson in the ways of being a gentleman, and hopefully, a chance of being in love.

The music and lyrics are catchy and memorable, and in addition to a few new songs, all the songs from the much loved 1991 movie are performed here. Timeless songs such as “Beauty and the Beast” and “Be Our Guest” will take you back in time (if you caught the movie) and have you tapping your feet.

To add to the charm of the captivating songs, Hilary Maiberger, who plays Belle, is the standout in this production. Maiberger is the most realistic and natural stage actress this critic has ever seen. Her delivery of Belle’s dialogue is so genuine and organic, it feels more like the actress is performing for film. Most stage actors emphasize or elaborate their acting to fill the space of a typical theatre setting, but Maiberger keeps her performance subtle but convincing.

On top of that, Maiberger’s crystal-clear singing voice and the power she’s able to put behind her tone and behind each note, especially on the climactic parts of the songs, makes it an absolute pleasure to watch her shine in her leading role.

In a smaller role, Adam Dietlein portrays Gaston pitch-perfectly, from the cocky tone to the brash body language, which is remarkably kept up even when Dietlein is singing. His performance brings a physical comedic touch to this production.

Technical wizardry and creative lighting help in the pivotal scene in which the Beast transforms back into the Prince, and in fact the transformation is so lightning-fast, it seems almost like movie magic when suddenly the mask disappears in a fraction of a second to reveal the human Prince.

The costumes are intricate and the revolving sets are detailed, seamlessly changing from the interior of the Beast’s castle to Belle’s country town. The humourous dialogue also provides for plenty of laughter, for both children and adults.

And despite the show’s being based on a common fairy tale, it’s the songs, Maiberger, and Dietlein that will easily enchant you for over two hours, making you forget that this musical is a “Tale as Old as Time, Song as Old as Rhyme – Beauty and the Beast”.

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About Sharmila Melissa Yogalingam

Ex-professor, Ex-phd student, current freelance critic, writer and filmmaker.

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