Benjamin Rauhala at the piano, Susan Egan, Laura Osnes, Courtney Reed performing opening number

Elizabeth Sherwood/1010 WINS

Broadway Princesses charm New York audience

December 20, 2018 - 2:56 pm
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Elizabeth Sherwood for 1010 WINS

The Broadway Princess Party came to Sony Hall on West 45th St. Monday night. The tiaras were affixed, the glass slippers were shined, and the costumes were pressed --  presumably without the help of woodland animals.

The Broadway Princess Party is a concert series started by Laura Osnes, a frequent Broadway musical headliner and lead of the recent revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, along with musical director Benjamin Rauhala. The idea had its roots at Feinstein’s 54/Below, where Ms. Osnes and a group of her friends performed songs sung by princesses in Disney productions. The show soon outgrew that space and it became so popular that they looked into touring.

“When we decided to take this on the road, we thought that we can’t travel 15 girls, we have to find a three-girl version of this show and wouldn’t it be spectacular if they were all actual Broadway princesses?” Osnes told 1010 WINS.

Sony Hall plays host to the Broadway Princess Party.
Elizabeth Sherwood/1010 WINS

Back home in New York, after a multi-city tour, the trio of Laura Osnes, Courtney Reed who was the original Jasmine in Disney’s Aladdin, and Susan Egan who was the voice of Meg in the animated Disney feature Hercules and the original Belle on Broadway in Beauty and the Beast, performed their holiday version of the show. The place was packed.

Sony Hall is ornate on the inside, with gold décor all around and a hanging disco ball to match the twinkling lights on the ceiling. The stage was decked out in Christmas stockings and ornaments. The room seemed to twinkle with purple light.

Mr. Rauhala, known as the Fairy Godfairy, was the master of ceremonies, introducing the princesses to the stage. He was also responsible for arranging the three part harmonies and the mashups, including one called the “Cinderepic Medley” of songs from every Cinderella production, from the musical, to the most recent movie starring Lily James, to a Cinderella song in Sondheim’s Into the Woods.

“It’s so amazing to watch people watch you during the Cinderella moment because there are girls in the front row just looking up and beaming and crying… it’s just magical,” Osnes said.

The princesses took turns singing solo or in duets, as did their guests. Ms. Reed needed a male counterpart for her signature song, “A Whole New World,” so Adam J. Levy was brought to the stage. Other guests included Corey Cott from Broadway’s Newsies and Bandstand who sang “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” and Liz Callaway, the voice of Anastasia in the animated feature, who sang “Grown-Up Christmas List.”

Because the audience knows the resumes of these princesses, they definitely expected to hear Ms. Egan sing “I Won’t Say I’m in Love” from Hercules or “Home” from Beauty and the Beast, for example. Yet, the audience audibly gasped when they heard the opening chords to these songs. The princesses acknowledged this with knowing smiles.

The key to the success of the show, according to Ms. Osnes, is nostalgia.

“I grew up with Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin and, you know, you hear the intros to these songs and everybody’s like [sighs]… it takes you back, it’s nostalgic. These characters are so inspiring and courageous and they strike a chord with so many people of different age groups,” she said.

One of the concertgoers, Stephen Witkiewicz, told 1010 WINS that he especially loved seeing Susan Egan and Liz Callaway. “I feel like I was singing along to every song—I wasn’t singing out loud but, in my head.”

Ms. Osnes was able to perform a short medley of other princess songs that were cut to make room for the holiday songs. Then she was joined by Ms. Reed and Ms. Egan for the final number, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”

“It’s the perfect balance of princess and holiday and it’s super magical and inspiring and really fun for us. Our audiences also go crazy for it. It’s been a really good time,” she told 1010 WINS.