By Iride Aparicio

BROOKE QUINTANA as Belle and SAM HARTLEY as the Beast
Photos by: Mathew Murphy

SAN FRANCISCO, CA.  The appeal of the Smash Hit Broadway Musical, BEAUTY and the BEAST by Disney, that is being presented at the SHN ORPHEUM THEATRE in San Francisco until July l0th, is  that the essence of  the fairy tale, is based on facts from life.

When the story  transports us, vicariously, to the literature world of  Poetic Justice where the good is always rewarded and the evil punished, we learn to be careful to judge people based on how their look. And to prove the reason, the story shows us how this young, handsome prince was punished for many years, for his error in judgement.

What makes the fairy tale more interesting, is that if we look around our friends we discover that we all know a Belle. A person, male or female, who is rejected by their peers for acting  “differently” than they do.  We also know a “Beast.” a person who looks ugly according to our pre-conditioned standards of “what is beautiful.” but who, if we ever give us a chance to get to know him or her, will surprise us with his or her inside beauty,  which is what matters in life.  And sadly, we all know a “Gaston”. A tall handsome man, that, In appearance, looked  “just perfect”. yet,  is nothing, but an empty person: vain, cunning, selfish, and  also bribes people to lie and cheat to get what he wants. So, after we get to know this man, (as Bell did) we realize how ugly he really is. So maybe, in BEAUTY AND THE BEAST   the real “beast” in the story is not the prince, but Gaston.

BROOKE QUINTANA as Belle shocks the people by reading a book

Like many stories, BEAUTY and the BEAST story begins with "Once upon a time in a far away land, on a Winter night, a beautiful enchantress,  disguised as an ugly old lady, arrived at the palace of a young handsome prince, and offered him  a red rose as payment for sheltering her for the night, to protect her for the cold weather. Repulsed by her appearance, the Prince said no.  She then turned herself into the young beautiful woman that she was, and to punish him,  turned the Prince into a horrible beast, and all his subjects into objects. She then gave him the rose,and told him that he would only be able to regain his human form if he ever founds, before the rose loses all his petals, a woman who can love him as a beast.

In the musical, from the darkness of the woods were the Royal palace is located, we are now transported to a sunny French village, where the houses are so charming that look as the drawings printed on the pages of a children’s fairy tale book. The costumes of the townspeople colorful as the rainbow, and they move around the village saying Bon Jour  (good morning in French) to each other.

In this little town,  many of the young girls are enamored of Gaston, a rich handsome boy. Some even faint, when he looks at them. But Gaston  (CHRISTIAAN SMITH-LOTLAREK ) wants to marry Belle,(BROOKE QUINTANA) inventor's Maurice (THOMAS MOTHERSHED) daughter, who is not only the the most beautiful girl in the town, but the most intelligent, The problem is that Belle, cares only for books, and being intelligent, understand how shallow Gaston is. So, when he gives her his picture and proposes marriage to her, she rejects him

CHRISTIAAN SMITH-KOTLAREK as Gaston, surrounded by the town girls

And  because vain and selfish Gaston is not exactly used to be “rejected” he takes revenge on Belle by hurting Maurice her father.

Produced by NETworks Presentations LLC  the new version of BEAUTY and the BEAST with book by LINDA WOOLVERTON and Academy Award® winning score  writing by  ALAN MENKEN with lyrics by the late HOWARD ASHMAN with additional songs by MENKEN and RIM RICE lyrics, if as visual as the original one, but better.

One of the reasons is that the acting of all the actors in this version is very natural and the tone of their voices is marvelous.  As Belle, QUINTANA acts her role realistically and sings her songs with feeling. She also knows hows how to show the audience her emotions towards the beast in her demeanor. Her renditions of the songs Home in the first act, and A Change in Me in the second act, got her long ovations on that night.

Impersonated  by KOILAREK, Gaston was represented with humor. The audience laughed at his antics, that were so exaggerated, that looked funny.  At the end, however when he gets evil, we all  disliked his character. Lefou, (MATT DASILVA) as Gaston only friend, takes a lot of abuse from Gaston, who knocks him down all the time. The role of Lefour character is supposed to be funny, and Lefou made us laugh. As Belle's father Maurice,  (MOTHERSHED) gave the audience the only tender  “family” moments in the show, telling his daughter things about her late mother, and how it would feel when she falls  in love.

At the Prince’s castle, the “Enchanted Objects” were enchanting on that  that night and all stayed in character.


STEPHANY HARTER GILMORE as Madame de la Grande Buche  (An operas singer turned into a dresser) was cute. She ever shared one of her gowns with Belle. SAMUEL SHURTLETT as Gogswroth was believable in his character as an Alarm clock, and acted realistically when he discovers that a key to wind him has grown on hi back.  RYAN A. PHILLIPS as the French Lumiere, the Prince’s Valet, turned into a candelabra, was absolutely charming as a French man. Babette (MELISA JONES) funny in her constant  flirting with the french Lumiere, and Mrs. Potts STEPHANY GREY, a real pro actress as an elderly person sharing her wise advice with Belle, and a pro singer when delivering her songs in her beautiful voice. DEANDRE HORNER, The little boy who played CHIP, her son, was fantastic

But what really distinguishes this BEAUTY and the BEAST from previous version is the role of the beast played by SAM HARTLEY.  In his acting, alone, the actor made his  beast human. At the beginning,, the beast acts like an animal, jumping into his regal throne, and sitting there in one corner, like a dog. Yet little by little the audience sees the beast acquiring human manners, learning to walk straight, to dance, controlling his temper, even learning to say “I’m sorry.” To demonstrate these things, requires masterful actting, And it was the masterful acting of HARTLEY in his role as the beast that taught the audience to accept him, as he is. By the time he sings his I can’t love Her in his soft mellow yet powerful voice,(That got him an ovation) his pain, has become real to us. Like Belle, we had learned to love him;


Those young at heart, as well as those young in age, will love this production..They can be their guests at the castle and see their Broadway’s style, performance of singing plates, and dancing spoons and forks and simulated fire works. It is Magical show..

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST will continue playing at the SHN ORPHEUM THEATRE until July l0th. For tickets call 888-746-1799 or visit shnsf.com