‘Beauty and the Beast’ cast: Filipino audience is amazing

Darick Pead and Hillary Maiberger as the Beast and Belle in the stage production of the Disney classic “Beauty and the Beast” now on its extended run until February 8 at the CCP Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo.

A tale as old as time? Yes, but according to the cast of “Beauty and the Beast,” the Filipino audience was pleasantly surprising, overwhelming and just amazing!

In an interview with LIKESTYLE, the cast revealed they had known about how interested Filipinos were about musical theater and passionate about singing, but they never expected the response they got from the audience after performing the Disney classic on stage.

Adam Dietlein, who plays the handsome yet conceited antagonist Gaston, said it best: “I’ve never been treated like a celebrity and when you meet those who’ve seen the show, they’re ecstatic and they’re shaking.”    

The international tour, which had been to Europe and the Middle East, is currently on its Asian leg, with playdates in Manila, Bangkok and Singapore. The Manila shows at the Cultural Center of the Philippines Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (Main Theater) began on January 10 on a weekend-only schedule, and is extending its run to February 8 due to insistent public demand!

“Being here, I can see how much we’ve been praised by people. It feels so good. It’s been wonderful mainly because of the people and their smiles, support and their energy during the show.  It’s fun time for everybody,” added Dietlein, who is also a film actor.

But for Hilary Maiberger, whose astonishing vocals made Belle even more memorable to her “screaming” fans of local princesses, it was an emotional encounter.

“We’ve heard that Filipinos get excited with musical theater and we expected they’re going to like it but we had no idea of the love we were going to get,” Maiberger said. But what really moved her was the way her performance affected the audience.

“We just love to sing and dance, but to hear people say we’re inspiring them, it’s overwhelming and wonderful,” she said.

“It’s been amazing,” said Hassan Nazari-Robati, who essays the sprightly Cassanova of candelabras Lumiere. “The audience has been responsive and appreciative. Very energizing. It’s made coming here a pleasure.”

In addition, Emily Matheson, who took the role of the motherly and kind Mrs. Potts, said, “The audiences embraced us in a way that makes it such a joy to perform every night. I don’t want to leave. I don’t even want to think about leaving.

James May, who plays the endearing butler Cogsworth, said this is due to the fact that “they (Filipino audience) really get it. They really connect to it. If you have that kind of response, it really makes a big difference. It’s so much fun to perform. It really actually affects how we perform and give the best show each night. It’s been fun.”

Darick Pead, who plays the lead role of Beast in the musical, gave a simple explanation: Filipinos are a happy people, passionate about music and singing—and are sensitive and caring enough to embrace the musical’s timeless message of giving value to one’s inner beauty.

“The people are genuinely happy. All of us have our trials in our lives but we see them happy all the time. We have our trials and go home and worry about things, but they are truly so happy,” he said.

“And this energy and positivity allows them to accept and embrace the musical’s message through the years to just be yourself and allow your inner beauty to shine.”