Review: Beauty And The Beast

(08.12.09)


(Photo by: J)

I am 23 years old, and I never knew I would be a kid once again, but on Tuesday night, it felt like I was.

Entering the drama centre theatre at the National Library Building, we were greeted with quite a crowd, noticeably a larger proportion of parents and children. Seated, one could almost feel the venue packing up with much excitement and anticipation. Hand clappers and miniature light sticks were given to the audience for their participation to the show, as the crowd seemingly began to fill up the entire venue – which reminded me of a high school hall, somewhat appropriate for a fairytale themed pantomime.

The lights were dimmed and the place was left in almost complete darkness; murmurings were everywhere and the stage was set. A very friendly, approachable and booming (but not in a negative) voice spoke; it was and in came Ah Ma Chao Chao (Karen Tan), who was an instant winner with the audience with her opening introduction. There was something about her, her voice and her character that welcomed people, made us feel at ease as though we were at home, and just want to relax and watch on with the show. And we sure did.

It began, and it felt like we were taken back to a time where it really did happened. A witch (Lim Kay Siu, who also played Beauty’s father) cast a spell on the male owner of the house (RJ Rosales), turning him into a beast. In order to break the spell, he must find someone to kiss him – and that someone just happened to be Beauty (Emma Yong).

Music was played and songs were sung, those well related with the current emotions of the characters and the storyline. They were nice and relevant for the moment; however, they didn’t particularly make anyone remember much of them as the show progressed. The storyline had several adult themes involved, brilliantly catered to the adults and unknown to the children in the audience, in a way providing entertainment for both the naïve young and the adult old. There were Singaporean and realistic elements injected into the storyline – such as Singlish being used and the fact that some women out there are just get to get rich men; okay, some gay men, too – which were definite winning add-ons to the script.

The props used onstage for the different parts of the story soon became known and predictable as it circled around various parts of the castle and Beauty’s house – but ain’t that what the entire plot of the original fairytale story is like as well? However, I wished for a little more variety in them, as the audience began to know what and who to expect from each side of the stage. It became more so further on into the play, with alternating scenes between Beauty’s house and the castle (one on the left and the other on the right).

For the children, they would have enjoyed seeing beauty and the beast – I was referring to the characters, and literally, the show as well – as they were figures that children would be looking up to and admiring upon during their growing-up stages. For me, besides Grandma Chao Chao, Desiree and Brandy Bong (Chua Enlai, Darius Tan; respectively) were undisputedly the night’s biggest entertainers, giving me the most laugh for the money’s worth. Dressed in drag, they were so annoyingly bitchy, pure slutty and typically bimbo stupid; yet they delivered the most funniest lines, onstage actions and – oh, what the heck, just the simple appearances of them onstage just thrilled me and made me want to laugh my sides out.

The crowd began slow in reaction, as always with the Singapore crowd, but soon, as the play and night progressed, they grew more positive, interactive, and gave themselves in – into a night of music, play and fun.

Beauty And The Beast is still showing till December 19, 2009 (Saturday), at the Drama Centre Theatre @ National Library Building. Showtimes each day are 2.30pm and 7.30pm.

For more information, click here.

For Sistic bookings, click here.

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