‘Beauty and the Beast,’ ‘Hercules’ star leads ‘Disney Princess’ concert at Kennedy Center

Hear our full conversation on my podcast “Beyond the Fame.”

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews Kennedy Center's 'Disney Princess' concert (Part 1)

Disney fans of all ages are about to have a ball this weekend here in the nation’s capital.

The Kennedy Center hosts the NSO’s “Disney Princess” concert on Friday and Saturday as Broadway’s Belle, Jasmine, Anastasia and Nala sing your favorite Disney songs.

“Disney has never had a concert with all the princesses on stage at one time,” Actress Susan Egan told WTOP. “We are four Broadway stars, each of us has played a princess on Broadway. … We are going to be on stage together singing music from all 12 Disney princesses and the two ‘Frozen’ queens … hopefully getting the audience to sing along.”

Steven Reineke will conduct the NSO Pops alongside Music Director Benjamin Rauhala, while animated images from the movies play on a huge screen behind the orchestra.

“We’ve just come off a 60-city national tour, but because of COVID we sang with a live piano and with tracks because we couldn’t travel with musicians,” Egan said. “This is thrilling because … instead of having tracks, we have the most incredible symphony. … A big Broadway orchestra might be 20 musicians. Here we’re going to have over 70.”

In between the songs, the actresses will share personal tales from the productions.

“Not only just singing in four-part harmony, which is a total blast because we blow the roof off, but getting to share the behind-the-scenes stories of our time on Broadway from the time when maybe the Beast accidentally pulled my wig off or when maybe, whoops, the magic carpet didn’t fly, so we’ve got some funny stories about live theater,” Egan said.

Egan will describe playing Broadway’s original Belle in “Beauty and the Beast” (1994).

“[The movie] was up for Best Picture and two years later, we opened on Broadway,” Egan said. “It was Disney’s first Broadway musical. In hindsight it seems like, ‘Of course, Disney is producing Broadway shows,’ but at the time it was very radical and not entirely welcome and we had no idea if we would run a million years or close in a day.”

She also voiced the character of Meg in Disney’s “Hercules” (1997).

“I was in a booth, mostly by myself, but I did get to work with Tate Donovan, who was Hercules, and James Woods, who was Hades,” Egan said. “The voice cast gets a little too much credit because the true stars are those animators who are working day in, day out for three years. Mine was a guy named Ken Duncan. … Meg was ahead of her time.”

She’ll be joined by Drama Desk nominee Christy Altomare of Broadway’s “Anastasia.”

“Christy Altomare was Broadway’s original Anastasia,” Egan said. “She’s singing a lot of the princesses that you love from Aurora to Cinderella to Anastasia herself, which is kind of fun because Anastasia is not an official Disney princess, but we get to sing her music. ‘Anastasia’ was Fox, then of course Disney purchased Fox [now streaming on Disney+].”

You’ll also see Grammy nominee Courtney Reed of Broadway’s “Aladdin.”

“Courtney Reed is Broadway’s original Jasmine,” Egan said. “She’s singing of course Jasmine and Moana and Pocahontas. She actually has a three-day leave of absence [with us] because she is currently starring in the national tour of ‘Moulin Rouge,’ which is the show, but she’s sneaking out for three days so that she can come sing with us.”

You’ll also see the acclaimed Syndee Winters of Broadway’s “The Lion King.”

“Syndee Winters was Broadway’s Nala,” Egan said. “She’s also known for playing all three female leads of ‘Hamilton’ on Broadway. She is exquisite and brilliant and can remember all of those crazy Lin-Manuel Miranda lyrics. She also sings Princess Anna and she gets to sing her song from ‘The Lion King’ and she sings Merida [from ‘Brave’]. We hit them all.”

They’ll be joined by Adam J. Levy as the Prince, but this is mostly girl power.

“Each of us is accustomed to being the only girl: Belle is the only girl, Ariel is the only girl, Nala is the only girl,” Egan said. “It’s really exciting for us to get to sing with three other Broadway women and show our diversity, show our support of one another, to champion young girls and boys who have dreams, talk about making our own dreams come true.”

The performance is for all ages, whether you’re a parent, kid or just young at heart.

“Families are welcome, but the show is written on two levels like a great Pixar movie where the kids are laughing at one thing and adults are laughing at an entirely different thing,” Egan said. “We’ve also become a date night, we’ve had marriage proposals … we’re a big hit with cosplayers. … We encourage people to dress up as your favorite character!”

She always looks forward to seeing the crazy costumes that audiences wear.

“To see a grown man dressed up as Elsa with a sign that says, ‘Let it Bro,’ and a little girl next to him dressed up as Princess Anna, that’s my favorite sight,” Egan said.

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews Kennedy Center's 'Disney Princess' concert (Part 2)

Hear our full conversation on my podcast “Beyond the Fame.”

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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