Broadway’s Disney princesses throw a party, and you can sing along
There will be no tiaras or glass slippers on stage Thursday when Broadway princesses Susan Egan (“Beauty and the Beast’s” original Belle), Laura Osnes (the Tony-nominated star of “Cinderella”) and Courtney Reed (Jasmine from “Aladdin”) take the stage at McGlohon Theater.
But there will be plenty of royal dress and notable accessories in the crowd as the three stars revisit songs from their respective musicals, rework classics, and share backstage stories while hosting the Broadway Princess Party tour created by musical director Benjamin Rauhala.
The term princess can be interpreted negatively: Some parents condemn Snow White and Cinderella for needing to be rescued or trying to marry up, while essays and magazine articles have debated the idea of fostering an “entitled princess” culture.
But Disney’s presentday princesses no longer long for a prince, and Egan says this Princess Party is more about empowerment and sisterhood.
“We’re a bunch of actresses that are competing against each other for roles,” Egan says. “Here we can get away from that. We’re working together, empowering women. The feeling at the shows is so positive.”
That’s not to say Broadway Princess Party only appeals to women and girls.
“If you’re a trucker with tattoos up to your chin, you’ve got that inner princess. My husband has it. My dog has it,” says Egan. “Let’s re-coin the term. It’s courageous, not prissy. It’s about goodwill and kindness, going after your goals, and all those wonderful things.”
Egan — who also voiced Meg in “Hercules” and has appeared on the fan convention circuit — describes the show as “the first hybrid of Broadway musicals and ComicCon.”
“That girl who has spent 150 hours building that costume (for cosplay) is as connected to that character as I am,” Egan says. “One of my favorite memories of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ was when I came out in that $55,000 yellow dress — more than I made in a year, and it’s in the Smithsonian now — and I’m revealed in the spotlight. This little girl in the ninth row stands up in her yellow dress from the Disney store and yells, ‘She looks just like me.’ The audience was laughing. The actors were laughing.”
Belle and Jasmine were really the first of Disney’s more-independent princesses. There was romance, but their lives didn’t depend on it.
“The strong, ‘I-don’treally-need-a-prince’ princess didn’t happen until I was in college,” says Egan of the more three-dimensional and ethnically diverse characters that now populate Disney’s world (many of which will be featured in the upcoming Disney animated movie “Ralph Breaks the Internet”).
“We talk about it in the show. Girls now take it for granted, because there’s Moana and Mulan and Tiana, but this is new. We want to take it beyond that,” she says.
Part of that is reinterpreting some of Disney’s standards with a contemporary, universal twist.
“It took time,” says Egan, who has two daughters. “Ariel wanted to be part of your world because of that cool stuff up there, but she also fell in love with a prince. By the time we get to Moana, there’s not a boy in there. Just as society is moving forward, those Disney movies are catching up as well.”