LIFE can be a fairytale. Just ask Hilary Maiberger and Darick Pead. The lead actors of Disney's Beauty and the Beast musical (running in Singapore from March 21 to April 19) are a couple in real life, just like their fictional counterparts onstage. The sparks flew the day they first met, three years ago on the first day of rehearsal, and neither has looked back since.
Maiberger, 29, says: "I didn't know who the Beast was, going into the show. But we had immediate chemistry. I was very comfortable with him, and very trusting, too, which is crazy - I didn't even know who he was."
Pead agrees: "We just kind of clicked."
The real-life romance has stood them well in their performances. Maiberger explains: "The chemistry and trust between us makes our onstage relationship more believable." Pead, 30, believes it gives their show an entirely different dimension. "The chemistry's been there from the first day of rehearsals. So it doesn't feel stale or old; it's just honest."
The eighth longest-running Broadway musical in history, Disney's Beauty and the Beast is based on the 1991 animated hit of the same name, which features classic showtunes written by the late lyricist Howard Ashman and composer Alan Menken. The musical tells the story of Belle, a young lady, and the Beast, who is actually a young prince trapped in a curse cast by an enchantress. The spell will be reversed only if the Beast can learn to love and be loved. Otherwise, he and his household will be doomed for eternity.
The main difference between watching the movie and watching the musical is audience engagement. Maiberger explains: "They are so involved in what's happening onstage; it's active participation."
"When you put on a movie, you don't have to watch it if you don't want to. It won't offend anyone," adds Pead.
While staying true to the original cartoon, the musical does have its own variations. While it incorporates all the songs from the Disney film, it also features a song cut from the soundtrack, as well as six original ones for the production.
The characters are a tad different as well. Pead explains: "The Beast is funny in the musical, and can be immature. He throws tantrums until he becomes an adult. It's difficult to find a balance between embodying a role on stage that people are so familiar with but also bringing yourself into it."
Struggling with reprising a familiar role isn't Pead's only challenge though; his biggest hurdle is acting through his character's attire - which takes 35 minutes to put on. Then, there is the makeup and the wig.
"It's like dressing for winter when it's summer - I just don't stop sweating. That's why I like to wear it as late as possible," he reveals.
From mishaps involving a rough tumble taken by Maiberger when she tripped on the carpet at a performance in Istanbul, to a wolf's paw accidentally pulling off Pead's wig at a performance in Thailand and him having to scramble to put it back on "crookedly", this musical is full of unpredictable moments, according to its cast members.
"This is why live theatre is so awesome," laughs Pead.
Disney'sBeauty and the Beast International Tour runs from March 21 to April 19 at 8pm (Tues to Fri), 2pm and 8pm (Sat), and 1pm and 6pm (Sun). Tickets are priced from S$65 to S$190, and are available at www.baseentertainmentasia.com, www.marinabaysands.com/ticketing, or www.sistic.com.sg