Review: The Broadway Princess Party

Tonight is the night you've been waiting for. I had (nearly) front row seats for Laura Osnes's Broadway Princess Party at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, and I'm here to tell you all about it, as promised. Even though getting to Costa Mesa from Hollywood during rush hour was a bit of a hassle, it was completely worth the wait. Though tonight was the first of three performances only at the Segerstrom, the show has been traveling around in other places for roughly two years. Tonight's concert featured three very prestigious princesses of Broadway. Laura Osnes, the headliner, starred in a revival of Rogers and Hammerstein's Cinderella. Susan Egan, who needs no introduction but I'll give one anyway, is famous for originating the role of Belle on Broadway and doing the voice of Megara in Disney's animated 1997 feature, Hercules. Last but not least is Courtney Reed, who originated the role of Jasmine in Disney's new Broadway production of Aladdin.

The venue was very intimate with a minimalist stage. We were seated in chairs around small tables instead of auditorium-style rows. On the low stage was a that was piano played by the show's musical director Benjamin Rauhala, who accompanied the performers. The microphone stands had some sparkly blue ribbons tied to them, which added a nice touch. Laura, Susan, and Courtney went on and off the stage throughout the show revealing various costume changes of their nicest evening gowns. The best entrance was when Laura Osnes popped up on a second-floor balcony pretending to be Rapunzel as Susan Egan serenaded her with "Mother Knows Best" on the stage below. Though there was minimal audience participation, Laura allowed us to sing the backup vocals of "That's How You Know" from Enchanted along with three performers and "When You Wish Upon a Star" at the end of the night. The intimate setting made it feel as if we were spending an evening out with these three talented ladies instead of sitting behind an invisible fourth wall. It also helped that they spent quite a bit of time greeting their fans in the lobby afterward and promoting their albums.

Laura introduced the show with a retooled version of a retired stage show at Walt Disney World called "Dream Along With Mickey." She could not have picked a better song to start with since "Dream Along With Mickey" was an obsession of mine when I lived in Florida. I used to watch it in front of the Cinderella Castle at least once a week for nearly a year. The soundtrack for the rest of the night covered most of the princess songs from the '90s until today. Laura performed a medley of Cinderella songs, mostly from the Rogers and Hammerstein musical that she starred in. Susan began with a performance of her signature "I Won't Say I'm in Love," with Laura and Courtney backing her up as the muses. Courtney serenaded us with several Jasmine songs, including "Beyond These Palace Walls" from the new musical, "Call Me a Princess," which was deleted from the original movie script, retooled for the Broadway script, and then scrapped again, and a duet of "A Whole New World" with a local singer who guest starred as Aladdin. Another singer from a local high school came out to give an stunning performance of "Almost There" from The Princess and the Frog.

In addition to their signature songs, the ladies told stories about their experiences playing princesses and sang other popular princess favorites. Laura covered both Don Bluth princesses--Thumbelina and Anastasia, who, if you haven't heard, is now a Disney Princess. Courtney sang some of the more diverse princess songs, including "Reflections" from Mulan, "Colors of the Wind" from Pocahontas, and "How Far I'll Go" from Moana. Susan sang a song from Little Show of Horrors that Alan Menken retooled to write "Part of Your World." In addition to some of her signature Belle songs, Susan also performed the two new songs from the Beauty and the Beast live-action movie from earlier this year. Though I wasn't a big fan of the remake or the new songs that Emma Watson performed for it, Susan has a superpower that makes any song she sings tug at your heartstrings. I didn't realize how beautiful "The Paris of My Childhood" was until I heard it in Susan's voice. She is an extremely talented performer and a delightful human being. Her story about how she convinced Disney to let her play Megara never gets old.

After the show, the three princesses went to the lobby to greet all of the guests and sell copies of their CDs. Courtney Reed was also selling items from a Gagged Chokers, an impressive jewel collection of lovely chockers and earrings that she makes herself. Many of them were princess-themed. I told her that I was excited to see her in Aladdin in February. She was a complete sweetheart and asked me to look for her at the stage door afterward. I also greeted Susan, who I'd met previously at the D23 Expo, and Laura, who had put the whole show together. Being able to talk to the performers in person after the concert just the right touch of magic to the evening. Not only did I have a lovely time, but I also made it home before midnight. If you are a fan of princesses, I definitely recommend attending this event when it arrives near you.


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