Broad­way’s Dis­ney princesses throw a party, and you can sing along

The Charlotte Observer - - Front Page - BY COURT­NEY DEVORES

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.”

ADRI­ENNE HAR­RIS

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