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'Beauty and the Beast' takes the stage Sept. 29-Oct. 4
Classic love story at Belk Theater
Published Saturday, September 19, 2015 10:42 am
by Ashley Mahoney

The Disney-inspired stage production of "Beauty and the Beast" is at Belk Theater Sept. 29-Oct. 4.
















Few stage shows resonate with fans of all ages like “Beauty and the Beast.”

The Broadway musical inspired by Disney’s Oscar-winning animated production is playing Sept. 29-Oct. 4 at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center’s Belk Theater. “Beauty and the Beast” allows the audience to relate to the feeling of the outsider trying to gain acceptance.

“It is just a family-friendly event, because the kids love it and then you have people like me—I still get choked up when I watch it in rehearsal every time,” said Christiaan Smith-Kotlarek, who portrays Gaston in his first Broadway tour. “The audience, I think, really feels like they’re a part of it, and they’re really living through it.”

“Beauty’s” protagonists are Belle, a young woman in a provincial town, and the Beast, a prince caught up in an enchantress’ spell. The Beast can break the spell and return to his former self if he learns to love and be loved, but time is running out. If he fails, it’s eternal doom.

“It’s a true love story told in the most easy to follow and understand way, with two people competing for the love of one person and also everyone learning a lot more about themselves throughout this process,” Smith-Kotlarek said.

The story incorporates a great deal of humor, and if an audience relates, it’s a job well done.

“I think humor is always a good way to break down walls for people,” Smith-Kotlarek said. “If you can make them laugh I think they’ll almost believe in you more or just feel like they can relate. It teaches lessons in addition to entertaining.”

The classic tale embodies the essence of why people go to the theater: to feel.

“That’s the whole goal of going to the theater,” Smith-Kotlarek said. “It’s to maybe learn something, maybe feel something—hopefully both. It takes you away from whatever is stressing you or weighing on you. It gives you a perspective, (and allows) you to come back refreshed for the rest of things that you have to accomplish in life.”

In particular, “Beauty” has remained close to Smith-Kotlarek as a result of a line from Belle’s father Maurice, an inventor, in which he asks her for a specific tool.
“My grandpa’s a mechanical engineer, so any kind of tool references always made me think of him, and building things with him,” he said. “I think that’s why that line particularly stuck with me, because it reminds me of good family times.”  

Tickets begin at $25. For more information: http://www.blumenthalarts.org/events/detail/beauty-and-the-beast.


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