Veteran promoter brings ‘Beauty and the Beast’ to PH | Inquirer Entertainment
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Veteran promoter brings ‘Beauty and the Beast’ to PH

By: - Columnist
/ 12:10 AM June 13, 2014

HILARY Maiberger as Belle and Darick Pead as Beast

(First of two parts)

LOS ANGELES—He’s brought them to Manila—from Metallica to Lady Gaga, from Tony Bennett to Sting to Pitbull. And now, for the first time in his 35 years in the business, promoter Renen de Guia is bringing to the Philippines a stage musical, Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.” I will date myself by mentioning this—some of Renen’s concerts in the early 1980s are personally memorable to me—Paul Williams, The Manhattan Transfer and America.


I haven’t seen Renen since those heady days of watching his concerts by the likes of INXS and Chicago at the Folk Arts Theater. So it was cool to see him and his wife, Cel Pe de Guia, recently in Rochester, New York, to watch “Beauty and the Beast.” He and Cel are president-general manager and vice president, respectively, of Ovation Productions, which began in 1979 when they handled the Philippine concert tour of Leif Garrett (remember him?).


Renen and I go a long way—we first met in an office building in front of the Santa Cruz Church in Manila. He was A&R manager for the Polygram label of Dyna Records, a sister company of WEA Records Philippines, where I was a publicity manager, in addition to writing for newspapers and magazines.

RENEN de Guia (right) and Lady Gaga “put their paws up.”

Also a popular radio and disco DJ at the time, Renen didn’t have his office then for his concert promotion business. He often came down to WEA’s lower floor office to use the telex machine (talk about dating myself!).

After watching “Beauty and the Beast” in New York, we talked, over wine, about those good old days in Plaza Sta. Cruz. While “Beauty” may tell a “tale as old as time,” I was charmed by Alan Menken, Howard Ashman and Tim Rice’s songs all over again, and the characters, from Belle, Gaston to Lumiere (Hassan Nazari-Robati was especially good).

Earlier, before the curtain rose at the Auditorium Theater in Rochester, no less than Mrs. Potts—Kristin Stewart, not in costume yet (she is also the assistant company manager of this production)— gave us a tour backstage for a closer look at the elaborate costumes and sets.

Renen’s announcement that he’s bringing an international touring production of “Beauty” to the Philippines comes on the heels of the news that Bill Condon is directing Disney’s live-action adaptation of the 1991 Oscar- and Golden Globe-winning animated film version. More information on “Beauty,” which opens January 8, 2015, at the Cultural Center of the Philippines Main Theater, is on

Below are excerpts from our e-mail interview with Renen:


On the 35th anniversary of Ovation Productions, you decide to bring a big musical show for the first time in your company’s history. What made you opt to take on the huge challenge of bringing “Beauty and the Beast” to the Philippines?

It actually came looking for me in a way. One day, I got a call from Liz Koops of Broadway Entertainment group saying that Ovation Productions was mentioned when she went asking around and that she wanted to meet me and have a chat to explore possibilities. I was delighted to learn that it was regarding “Beauty and the Beast”! She mentioned many other titles and I started singing songs from my favorite musicals, which amused her. Come to think of it, it was like an audition and business proposition combined. I don’t know where I scored higher.

Since this will be your first time to bring a musical production to the Philippines, how did you convince Disney Theatrical Productions that Ovation Productions is ready for this new venture?

Disney came into the picture after we have already forged an agreement with Broadway Entertainment Group. Prior to my meeting Disney officers, Liz Koops had already made known to them her promoter of choice for the Philippines.

On my first meeting with Liz, I was amazed that she knew many things already about my work and even quoted, word for word, something I said in Ovation Productions’ website. So when Liz brought me and Cel to meet the Disney people, it was basically to be properly oriented with the high standards of Disney and the high expectations they have with people associated with its brand.

What are you most excited about in bringing this musical production to Manila?

“Beauty” is a very well-known and much-loved musical. It is always good to do quality and successful events, which Ovation Productions always strives to do. The excitement is in the challenge of pulling it off because some say doing concerts is different from doing Broadway musicals.

There is, of course, a learning curve which is natural when you’re doing something for the first time. However, there is nothing that cannot be learned. It helps that Francis Lumen, who used to be associated with earlier international musicals in Manila, is now with us for “Beauty.”

I am also excited about this new venture because I love theater and almost got into it, having won the Best Actor award in the UST Intercollegiate Dramafest of 1972, where I represented the College of Engineering.


CEL (LEFT) and Renen de Guia reunite with singer Sting in 2013, 19 years after his concert at the Ultra stadium in 1994.

Now that you’ve seen the “Beauty” production in New York, what do you think are among the elements that the Manila audiences will enjoy?

The Beast’s attempts to make him charming and lovable to Belle. The love theme is very much enjoyed by everyone. Each individual character stands out. The dance numbers, costumes, humor, the story itself; all the right elements combine beautifully to make “Beauty” a really feel-good musical experience. I normally struggle to keep awake when I watch musicals abroad due to jet lag. It did not happen with “Beauty.” The story kept building up. I couldn’t wait to see what will happen next.

This is an international touring production so obviously, the cast and key creative staff have been chosen and hired beforehand. How many jobs will this production create for the local staff and crew?

There will be a lot of local people needed as stagehands, hospitality staff, merchandise assistants, drivers, security personnel, etc.

(To be concluded on Sunday.)

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TAGS: Beauty and the Beast, Disney, lady gaga, Musical Theater, Ovation Productions, Renen de Guia, Theater

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