You know you were a ’90s kid when Sundays meant going through your stack of VHS tapes and picking out your favourite Disney movie to watch in your PJs. And admit it; you started talking to your furniture too after watching Beauty and the Beast. Or, was that just me?

Those bulky VHS tapes may have long gone, along with your Tamagotchi and Polly Pocket doll, but come 21 March, relieve the chance to be a kid again when Disney’s Beauty and the Beast musical comes to Singapore.  Featuring six beloved songs from the original Disney feature film and six new songs specially written for the musical, the show will be making its first-ever international tour, covering countries like Philippines, Thailand and Singapore.

In fact, when I sat down with Hilary Maiberger (Belle) and Darick Pead (the Beast) in their hotel suite, they had just flown in from Bangkok in the morning. You wouldn’t have guessed it though, as the couple chatted animatedly about their first impressions of each other, their thoughts on their roles and the funniest moments on tour.

Looking all lovey-dovey! Photo: Eliezer for Popspoken

I heard that before the first rehearsal for Beauty and the Beast, you two had never met. So, what were your first impressions of each other?

Darick: It was crazy. I remember seeing her and she was actually the first one at the rehearsal. She was sitting down and I walked around to the corner and asked her if she was Belle or something. We talked for a second and that was it. But little by little, things just started happening and it was really quite amazing, that first scene, that first day…

Hilary: Yeah, I remember I showed up at the rehearsal early, because I’m paranoid about being late and I remember like, “Oh, he’s the beast!” and I remember sizing him up a little and wondering, “Are we gonna get along?”  I was kind of nervous but immediately as we started scene work, it just kind of clicked. We were very comfortable with each other, very trusting and I was like, “This is gonna work great.”

Wow… And how did you guys go from being cast mates to soulmates?

Darick: Well I don’t know… [Laughs] I think the greatest thing was that we were friends. We were like super friends and that’s what it has always been. We have just been really great friends and we’re really good… I don’t know. I think it’s sort of it is what it is, right? [Laughs]

Hilary: Yeah I mean we spent three years together on the tour, we spent a lot of time together onstage, creating these roles. And like I said, there’s just so much trust. We are able to be vulnerable with each other on the stage and we are very good at communicating with each other on and offstage. So I think that honesty and trust reads onstage.

Darick: So I won’t be able to tell you a specific moment because we were just really good friends and we are always together.

The two of you have been Belle and the Beast for 3 years now. Do you ever subconsciously slip into your roles, even when offstage?

Darick: I can be mean. Scary. Ugly.

Hilary: No! Stop it! [Laughs and playfully swats his arm]

Hilary: I think there’s so much of us in the role… When we go to work, we go to work. And offstage we’re ourselves again. But I don’t know… I’ve been able to mesh Hilary with Belle, so there’s a lot of me in the role. And it makes it very fun to come to work and just be myself.

Darick: Yeah… I think there are a lot of things I found that are true to the Beast that I found true to me as well, at some point in my life. Like, wanting to find love, or to be loved, and then because of somebody else’s love, I am able to make it out of that selfish feeling and become selfless.

Beauty and the Beast

Who wouldn’t want Belle as a teacher? Lucky Beast. Photo: BASE Entertainment Asia

Yes! My favourite part of Beauty and the Beast is the transformation scene really. He seems to die but then Belle’s declaration of love saves him. Do you guys have a favourite moment in the entire story?

Darick: I’d say it’s Beauty and the Beast, during the song…

Hilary: When we’re waltzing…

Darick: And Emily Matheson (who plays Mrs Potts) sings that song so beautifully, that iconic song of the show. And in that moment you can actually feel Belle and the Beast falling in love and that story is being really clear and told very clearly. That’s really quite beautiful.

Hilary: There’s this scene we call the library scene, where Belle is teaching the Beast how to read. And I think it’s kind of a moment where she realizes that they’re equal, and they’re not that different. That’s kind of the beginning of that love story, a little bit… Like hey, there’s something going on here.

Darick: [Laughs] Yeah, it’s kind of like they’re on a first date or something.

Beauty and the Beast is so timeless and well-loved. Has it been hard making Belle and the Beast your own characters?

Hilary: I think we got cast because they saw something in us that already embodied the characters. There’s certain restrictions that we have to follow but they don’t really affect much…

Darick: Well I think what’s interesting is that it’s such a timeless story already, and people love it. But like when her for example, she’s one of the coolest, most amazing Belles I’ve ever seen and the reason why is because she’s applicable for today. She’s like a Belle that I would want to see on stage. You know, not a 90s Belle, but a 2015 Belle. And that’s what makes her special and so unique to watch on stage because you’re seeing a modern day Belle that is still Belle, what you’d expect, but something that’s applicable to us today.

Hilary: And I think everyone has done that with their characters. Made it applicable for today and for who they are.

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Hilary and the cast ham it up for the show. Photo: BASE Entertainment Asia

I heard that you travel around with 30 other cast members. Travelling around with such a large group must be pretty exciting. What was the funniest thing that happened on this tour?

Darick: On the tour. I would say…

Hilary: There were so many embarrassing moments… [Laughs]

Darick: Okay I’ll tell you this. There was this gargoyle costume and the gargoyles are played by some of the crew members who move the set around. And one time there’s this guy, he had this tail and he kneeled on this tail and when he was trying to stand up, he was still kneeling on his tail and his gargoyle pants fell down. And it’s nothing crazy, nothing revealing. It was something he could easily pull back up but it was just so funny. So he pulled it back up and continued dancing.

No way! Was that during a rehearsal or an actual performance?

Darick: The actual performance.

Hilary: Yeah, crazy stuff happens during the show and you just gotta keep going. I fell pretty hard… I tripped on Matthew, who plays the carpet. I tripped on him, and I tumbled, I think at least 3 times. Got back up and went on! It’s live theatre…

Darick: And that’s what’s so fun about live theatre…

Hilary: Everyone falls, right.

Darick: And anything can happen.

Anything can happen indeed. So tell us, were there any instances of say crazy fans mobbing you or something like that?

Darick: Not crazy but very, very kind. Very kind fans actually in Manila.

Hilary: Amazing…

Darick: They’d want to take pictures and give us stuff.

Hilary: Just the most welcoming fans ever in Manila. There was this one girl who said, “You know, I get really bad anxiety and I can’t really be in a room with other people, it’s a really bad problem.  But I saw your show and I feel I can now be okay being in a crowd. Your performance has given me courage.” And that’s overwhelming, in an amazing way that what we do can affect one person. And that’s, that’s worth it.

Cover Photo: BASE Entertainment Asia