A promotional photo for the Broadway Princess Party, touched down at the Pantages Theatre in Minneapolis on August 18.
Broadway/Disney royalty were in town last week at the Pantages Theatre. Which members of the royalty, you ask? Well, Cinderella, Jasmine, and Belle…to start. There was no need to splurge on spectacular scenery or lush costumes to bring the spirit of these characters to life. These princesses only needed an intimate stage, their powerful voices, and enchanting music to create the magical Broadway Princess Party (BPP) for princesses both young and not so young.
- Read an interview with Laura Osnes.
The Broadway Princess Party was originally conceived by Music Director Benjamin Rauhala. Rauhala teamed up with Minnesota’s own Laura Osnes (now a Broadway Tony Award-nominated star) as producer, and the two recruited Disney princesses to bring BPP to the stage. Rauhala opens the show by both sharing its origins and providing musical accompaniment for the performers. Osnes is the first to sing and the host, and provides an incredible musical melody of the uncommonly good songs from Rogers and Hammerstein’s musical Cinderella. She is joined on stage by Susan Egan, who originated the role of Belle in Disney’s Broadway version of Beauty and the Beast and who also played the voice of Megara in Disney’s 1997 animated film Hercules. Courtney Reed, who originated the role of Jasmine in Disney’s Aladdin on Broadway rounds out the trio of princesses on stage.
The quality of each princess’s singing was astounding. Just as I might conclude that one was the best, the other two would perform songs rivaling that performance and throwing my judgment into question. The three princesses went on and off the stage, sometimes singing solos, duets, and trios. Joining them on stage for both a solo and a couple of duets was Adam Jacobs, who originated the Broadway role of Aladdin in Disney’s Aladdin and who performed at the Orpheum Theatre last year as part of the Aladdin touring company. His duet with Osnes in “Do I Love You Because You’re Beautiful” was the highlight of his performance.
A more local touch came form Children’s Theatre Company performer Reed Sigmund, who played the Genie in CTC’s own production of Aladdin with Osnes before she went to Broadway, gave the audience a rousing version of “Friend Like Me” from that same production. Another Minnesotan, 18-year-old Myra Butler, auditioned for the production and was selected to sing “Almost There” from The Princess and the Frog animated film. Butler’s poise and voice was amazing, and she operated as an equal on stage with the other princesses. I am sure this won’t be her last professional stage performance.
Between the princesses and their guests, the show presented virtually the entire Disney songbook from the Disney Renaissance to the present (i.e., since 1989’s The Little Mermaid). These include Reed’s powerful renditions of “Reflections” from Mulan, “Colors of the Wind” from Pocahontas, and “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana. Egan sang several songs from Beauty and thte Beast, including the title song. Although Egan joked about her advanced age (she is now old enough to play Mrs. Potts), it was clear that the passage of time has not taken a toll on her voice. In addition to songs from the Broadway show Cinderella, Osnes also performed songs from the non-Disney but similarly toned animated films Thumbelina and Anastasia. Of course, no list of Disney princess songs would be complete without “Let it Go” from the animated film Frozen.
The princesses in the audiences ranged from very young to much older. I brought my own six-year-old Queen Elsa with me, but the age range seemed to go as young as 1 year old. Many of the teen and young adult princesses wore such authentic costumes for Snow White, Ariel, etc. that the very young were in awe, often approaching these audience members as the real deal. The ushers joined in on the party fun, addressing the younger audience members as their costumed characters. When an usher addressed my granddaughter as Elsa, she felt compelled to explain that she liked Elsa…but that it wasn’t her real name. My granddaughter was delighted by the show, and she was very helpful in giving me a play-by-play as to which Disney film each song came from.
Even if you are not that into princesses, the fantastic voices of these seasoned Broadway pros as well as Sigmund and Butler makes for a very entertaining performance. Short of the Tony Awards, I know of no other place where you can find such find such an abundance of talent on one stage.