Not only was I able to talk to producers Dan Hinde and Seth Wenig while backstage at Beauty and the Beast, but I also caught up with some of the actors and crew members. I spoke to Hilary Maiberger, who plays the role of Belle, and Darick Pead, who plays the role of Beast. I also got the chance to talk to two of the names behind the spectacular visual appeal of the play: David Lawrence, the Wig and Hair Designer, and Stanley Meyer, the Scenic Designer who is responsible for all that you see on stage.
Hilary Maiberger, Belle
Tell me about yourself, you’re a recent graduate?
Hilary: I graduated with my master’s in 2010. So, I have been out of school for a little bit, for four years. I jumped right into the theater scene and got this amazing job. And now I am in Istanbul, Turkey. It’s crazy.
Is this your first tour?
Hilary: Yes, it’s my first international tour. I’ve been on the US tour for two years, playing the same role, but this is my first time out of the US. So it’s very exciting.
How were you able to land such a popular role?
Hilary: I love what I do, and I think that has something to do with it. And I saw that they were holding auditions for Belle. She’s always been a dream of mine. So, I kind of took a chance and auditioned and I think it was just the right timing. They really liked me. I think they saw a lot of Belle in me already. Here I am playing my third year of Belle — I must have done something right.
Are the sole player of this role? Or, do several Belles go in rounds?
Hilary: I have two understudies. If I get sick, I have somebody who goes on, but I will be doing all the shows unless I physically cannot. So I am “the Belle.”
It’s so nice to meet “the Belle.” Anything else that you would like to add?
Hilary: I hope that the Istanbul audience likes this beautiful show. And, I am really excited to be performing at the Zorlu PSM. The performance has a fresh face. The creative team came in, and rediscovered and redesigned things. And it’s really really exciting to be debuting the show in Istanbul.
Are you excited to explore the city?
Hilary: Oh, absolutely. I cannot wait. After tech is over, I plan on immersing myself in the culture and the city. And I am very excited.
And where do you head next?
Hilary: We head to Abu Dhabi next, and I have never been there either.
Darick Pead, Beast
How do you like playing the role of Beast?
Darick: I really like playing the role of the Beast, mainly because it’s an iconic character. And, on top of that, I think we all feel like a Beast at some point — there are some parts of ourselves that we wish were better. And what’s cool about this entire story is that Belle looks inside the Beast and finds something amazing in his heart and loves ALL of him. I think that’s what we all want. That’s why I like playing that role, because we can relate to it in some way.
How did you make your way into the role of the Beast?
Darick: Crazily enough I had just finished school and moved to NYC from Utah. And it was only my first or second audition. Either they were desperate, or they saw something they liked.
So, this is your first experience on stage?
Darick: Professionally, yes. I’ve done a lot of regional and local things in Utah. So I have done a lot of work. But this is my first major, international production.
I’m impressed, it’s a great way to start off your professional life.
Darick: Yeah, it’s crazy. I get nervous, but I consider myself lucky. I’m going to enjoy the next nine months of this international tour.
Is this your first venture abroad?
Yes, I’ve never been abroad other than Canada. But that doesn’t really count because it’s so similar to the States. So, it’s the first time that I ever got on a plane and flew for twelve hours straight to a foreign country.
Have you had a chance to look around the city?
Darick: A little bit. We got in and immediately had a day off. But we were trying to get used to the sleep schedule. And from that point we’ve been here. I have been able to look around the Zorlu Center, and I have to say that it’s pretty amazing.
I love Istanbul. We have been able to walk around some local neighborhoods as well. The bakeries are incredible. I love all the things that we’ve had so far.
David Lawrence, Hair Design, and Stanley A. Meyer, Scenic Design
Can you tell us a bit about the wigs in the show?
David: In a Broadway show most people wear wigs because you are often doing a period look. It’s also easier for the actor, they don’t have to have to spend a long time getting their hair styled. In this show we have ninety wigs, and on top of that we have a main character that’s covered with hair from head to toe. It’s a very unique situation for me as a hair and make up designer to have such a central and important character with so much hair. I work exclusively with a factory in Bali, Indonesia (although it’s a Swiss company) to make the wigs; they are custom-made and built according to my specifications. I really enjoy transforming the actors into these characters.
What’s your background?
David: I have a BFA (Bachelor’s in Fine Arts) in acting and directing, and for many years I was an actor. Then I started working backstage, and I now have thirty Broadway shows under my belt. I started working backstage because I love the theater and working in the field. I also get to work with very talented people. The costume designer for this show won a Tony Award for this in 1994. She is not with us today, but I work very closely with her to perfect the look for every character. So that’s part of what I do.
Also, I get to work with Stan, who is a wonderful set designer. We are both from the original Broadway production.
Stanley: It’s been a big part of our lives for the past twenty two years.
How does it feel to have worked on both the original and this international production of Beauty and the Beast?
Stanley: It’s fantastic to be mounting the show here in Istanbul, in this beautiful facility. I mean, here we are, over twenty years later, getting to re-imagine and present the show to a whole new generation and culture and audience. I don’t think I could have predicted this when we first started out. So this is brand new for us, this world tour. And Istanbul is the first spot — this is where we are mounting it, making changes, adapting it. And we’re in good hands at the Zorlu PSM.
It’s one of the most beautiful theaters that I have ever been to, with state of the art facilities and fantastic space. Not to mention the crew’s been great. We’re really happy to start the show here and to have the opportunity to bring Beauty and the Beast to a whole new audience and genre of people. It’s breaking new ground. It’s like it’s new all over again.
Beauty and the Beast runs until Sunday 26 October. Tickets are still available on the Zorlu website.
20 TL student tickets can be purchased at the Zorlu PSM box offices on the day of the event between 12:00-14:00 for shows at 15:30, and between 17:00-19:00 for evening shows.
Be on the lookout tomorrow for my interview with the cast and crew of Beauty and the Beast!
Melis Kanık is a contributor to Yabangee