Peter Monaghan enjoying life as the Beast in Summer Musical
Beauty and the Beast is underway at Theatre Under The Stars and VancouverTheatre’s Max D’Ambrosio talks with Peter Monaghan, who sings the mournful yet brave baritone of the Beast.
Max D’Ambrosio: It seems that the bulk of your experience has been in music, yet you’ve bookended the singing with some solid acting. How do you balance the time and effort demanded by these different aspects of your work?
Peter Monaghan: The acting side of things, for me, came from just sheer stage experience. I’ve been on stage for probably about twelve or thirteen years, doing different aspects of singing, be it revues, or rock shows, or anything like that. Over time, I think, what I’ve developed in terms of acting has just kind of happened. It hasn’t been until right now that I’ve actually tried to focus on getting acting coaches and looking at those aspects of things.
I think I’ve just been lucky in where I’ve ended up on stage, to help me through that.
MD: Prior to landing this role, did you have any history with Beauty and the Beast?
PM: No, I just know, or had heard, that the role of the Beast was a very good crossover role for an operatic singer. Because our voices are trained differently, in some cases. Considering this is one of my first experiences with musicals, I guess it’d be my third show, I’m still looking for those opportunities that I can enhance with my operatic voice, but still have some modification, to try to break more into the musical world.
So, I had no real idea as to what to expect from a “show” standpoint. However, I had heard that Theatre Under the Stars was such an amazing company, and it couldn’t have been a more comfortable position to be in to experiment with that.
MD: Among Disney’s retellings of classic stories, this is one of those tales with family-friendly presentation hiding a remarkably sophisticated subtext. In the case of your character, how did this mixture affect the performance?
PM: For me personally, I kind of just wanted to be as true as possible to the Beast character that was presented within the nostalgic films. In terms of gender roles and whatnot, the way that Belle was written for the musical – because there was added dialogue – was more of a sassy character, to kind of put Beast into place. And so, I basically tried to be as broad and harsh as possible, but still have some type of vulnerability within my character that I can change to when things between Belle and I start to change.MD: What are your favourite songs in the play, and why?
PM: Well “Be Our Guest,” of course, is a spectacle. It’s so entertaining. I’m sad that I don’t get to be a part of it! Victor Hunter, he does such a great job of Lumiere, he’s so comedic with his timing, and same with Steven Greenfield as Cogsworth. It’s just such an entertaining number to watch.
And I absolutely love “A Change in Me,” which is Belle’s song in the second act; Jaime (Peircy) sings it absolutely beautifully. And it’s a song that’s not usually in the musical. It’s kind of the first one to go if they need to cut time. But it’s definitely one of my favourites, and it does tell the whole moral of the story: that there is change in people, and you can do better.
Of course, I do enjoy performing my song at the end of Act I, because it’s not very often that I, as a lower voice, get to have that kind of a limelight, and get to finish off that first act.
MD: So then, “If I Can’t Love Her” would be your favourite among the numbers that you are involved in yourself?
PM: I love “Something There” as well, only because that’s where I get to start being more comedic, instead of harsh, and I finally get some interaction with Belle. That’s one of the most fun ones for me. Sadly, I don’t get to interact a lot with the whole group! So that’s one of the best numbers, that I get to be a part of.
Beauty and the Beast plays in repertory with West Side Story
Theatre Under The Stars
Malkin Bowl, Stanley Park
July 6 to August 27Purchase tickets