Disney’s Beauty and the Beast

There are certain habits, specific things that we do that make our lives feel more complete, more whole. For me, that includes live theatre and Broadway shows. I had forgotten what a Disney musical feels like, so happily, I filled in the void this past week and saw Disney’s Beauty and the Beast at The Smith Center for the Performing Arts.

This was my first time at the Smith Center and I wasn’t sure to expect. I knew it wouldn’t be as grand and stately as the Orpheum in Memphis, but figured, hey, this is Vegas. I was not disappointed. As we parked, the large neo art deco building loomed large and reminded me of something I would find in modern Cairo.

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The 17-story carillon tower that you can see in the picture houses 47 bells and I can only imagine what they must sound like, echoing across the Las Vegas valley. Once inside, we found classical neo art deco complete with marble floors and spiraling staircases. The show was in Reynolds Hall which is one of three theatres at the center. We were ushered into the theatre and it was magnificently understated. We were seated front row balcony and settled in for an evening of music, dancing and enchanted story-telling. We were not disappointed.

I had never seen the Broadway version of this classic Disney tale and I will admit to being a bit confused with the story-line for the first several minutes. It didn’t take long to put my expectations that this would follow the animated Disney classic to rest and I simply watched the show as if I didn’t know anything about the Beauty or the Beast. And, I have to say that by the end of the show, I liked this version so much better!

Brooke Quintana as Belle and Sam Hartley as the Beast shined in their performances and made the love story quite believable. Also complementing the two stars were Ryan N. Phillips as Lumiere, Samuel Shurtleff as Cogsworth, and Melissa Jones as Babette. Two other stand outs were Christiaan Smith-Kotlarek as the handsome, self-centered Gaston and Stephanie Gray as Mrs. Potts. Smith-Kotlarek brought comedic respite with his performance as well as making some of the women of the audience swoon every time he showed off his “big guns.” Ms. Gray was an absolute joy to watch and when she sang the title song, you know I had tears running down my face. Her voice was sweet, clear and caused goose-bumps to appear even way up in the balcony.

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If this show had been about nothing more than the great musical compositions, I would have liked it very much. But the fact that the storyline is so complex and human is of course, what elevated this performance into the category of top ten. We’re all a little different and we all have to learn how to love and be loved and this story had all of that and more.

I walked out into the warm Las Vegas air after the show and knew finally, that I was home. I’m buying season tickets which is no surprise, and I can only say that I feel whole once again since getting to experience one of life’s most valued treasures, live musical theatre.