In Lemieux Pilon 4D Art’s version of Beauty and the Beast, not everybody lives happily ever after.
The story starts with Belle (Janine Theriault), a modern-day painter who is grieving her mother’s death.
She meets the Beast (Vincent Leclerc), a self-involved customer with a disfigured face.
In La Belle et la Bete — A Contemporary Retelling (美女與野獸), the two of them connect deeply over mutual heartache, but troubles arrive when they try to make the relationship work after the initial spark.
“Their love story is not as romantic and simple as most people know it. The relationship becomes a serious question about human nature,” said Gracie Chou (周靜芝), a tour promoter for the Montreal-based Lemieux Pilon 4D Art.
A fresh complication comes in the form of the Lady (Diane D’Aquila), official narrator of the play.
“She loves him. I think that before Belle arrived, she did have a bit of a relationship with him,” D’Aquila said of her character.
The Lady fulfills her role of narrator dutifully at first, but becomes increasingly calculating.
“As in the fairy tale, the Beast becomes Prince Charming in the end, but he doesn’t necessarily end up with Belle,” Chou said.
Belle, the Beast and the Lady will be this production’s only live actors. The rest of the characters are holograms, Chou said.
Using advanced digital technology, the technical crew can project virtual figures that dance and converse seamlessly with the real-life actors.
That same technology can project high-definition castle scenes and props that the cast can touch and use, sometimes to eye-popping effect. When the Beast smashes a mirror, it breaks in an explosion of holographic glass.
Projectors also equip cast members with grotesque accessories, like a holographic garden of thorns that’s rooted on the Beast’s body. As scenes unfold, the thorns creep further out and carpet the theater walls.
Founded in 1983, Lemieux Pilon 4D Art is a touring company that stages original theater pieces that blend performance arts with new media.
La Belle et la Bete — A Contemporary Retelling is 90 minutes long (no intermission) and performed in English with Chinese subtitles. Parental discretion is advised for brief partial nudity and mature content.