By Kirstin Franko (guest author) and David Siegel
Nothing can stop the Broadway Princess Party with its celebration of empowerment for who you are or want to be. It’s a performance that aims to kick away the old definitions of what a princess is and can do. It’s a blast of a musical event not just centered on fun but “with a message about the strength, caring, and kindness of a princess…to celebrate diversity,” as I learned in a phone conversation with Susan Egan (Disney’s original Belle in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast). No one is an outcast.
A touring production of Broadway Princess Party was originally scheduled for a live performance for last March, but the performance had to be cancelled due to early onset of the pandemic. Now Broadway Princess Party has found a way back to the DC area to perform. The party will be live and streamed out to audiences thanks to Hylton at Home and Mason Arts at Home. The musical event with its big heart will be performed live on the Hylton Performing Arts Center stage.
The Princess Party features Egan, Laura Osnes (Broadway’s original Cinderella), Courtney Reed (Broadway’s original Jasmine in Aladdin), and Aisha Jackson (standby for Anna in Disney’s Frozen on Broadway), who join their talents into a fun, uplifting soiree alongside “Prince” Adam J. Levy and “Fairy GodFairy” Benjamin Rauhala (Broadway’s Fiddler on the Roof).
To learn more about Broadway Princess Party, DCMTA a special guest author, Kirstin Franko, assistant director of marketing and communication at George Mason University, to share her recent interview with Osnes, Egan, Reed, Jackson, Rauhala, and Levy.
Kirstin Franko: What has been the most rewarding part about pivoting from an in-venue show to a digital one?
Susan Egan: There is nothing like being in the room with the palpable energy of an audience, but this digital platform has brought the glorious reward of being able to reach and impact people across the entire globe through a single performance! Young fans in Japan, thespians in London, Disney-lovers in Orlando—all have access to Broadway Princess Party this month thanks to George Mason University’s Hylton Center and the Center for the Arts! I love that artists and venues are finding ways to still share music and spread joy when the world needs it most.
Benjamin Rauhala: Doing the show virtually gives us the chance to change up certain moments of the show and perform to the cameras, so it really feels like every viewer at home is having parts of the show performed just to them! We get excited about creating that intimate connection, even from miles and miles away! Knowing that we can make people smile near and far in difficult times like these is so rewarding for us, and I cannot wait to make magic together again!
How excited are you to be able to perform again—even if audiences are behind the digital curtain?
Laura Osnes: Getting to perform is always a treat, especially now that it feels like such a rarity. We are so grateful that George Mason has pioneered this way to keep artists joyfully doing what they love and patrons joyfully able to still experience it! Art and music have always been a source of inspiration, escape, and healing in troubled times. So, we are very grateful to create that opportunity for ourselves and others with this performance.
Aisha Jackson: I am overjoyed to be able to use my gifts again! Anytime I’ve been given the opportunity to perform during this pandemic has been therapeutic. I desperately miss the experience of live theater, the community of performing with my colleagues, and the rush I feel knowing I made someone laugh or release by doing what I love. We won’t get to see the audience’s faces or feel their energy, but we will be able to connect with you all virtually. On the other side of the screen, someone’s day will be brightened. Adults and kids will, hopefully, dance it out in their living rooms as they listen to us sing some of their favorite Disney classics. That alone makes my heart smile. I can’t wait to perform for you all and spread some love and light!
Benjamin Rauhala: It is such a gift to make music with these incredible women, and our resident prince! When I’m playing the piano with them, I get to feel like I’m flying on the magic carpet with Courtney, reading storybooks in the square with Susan, dancing at the ball with Laura, stuffing chocolate in my face with Aisha, and making dreams of true love come true with Adam. I’m so thrilled to enter that magical world again, and bring our virtual audience with us!
Susan Egan: Harmonizing with these ladies is the best feeling in the world! We’ve done so many Zoom rehearsals and recordings together—it’s going to be an incredible feeling to get to finally sing together, in the same room again!
Can you talk about how the show spans audiences of all ages? What makes it an especially fun thing to tune into right now?
Benjamin Rauhala: What’s special about this concert is its universal appeal. Nearly everyone on earth has some sort of connection to these iconic princess songs, the beloved characters who sing them, and their epic tales of adventure! Whether you grew up watching Disney movies, have young princes or princesses of your own, love dressing up as your favorite royal, or just appreciate Broadway-level talent, this concert is for you!
Susan Egan: We always say that everyone has an inner princess! Of course, we always love seeing young children in our audiences, but so often we get to see 20-somethings or 30-somethings bringing their parents or grandparents who bought them those old VHS copies of the Disney films. These songs are timeless and connect every generation. I think we’ve all been cooped inside for a long time now, so we’re hoping tuning into this broadcast can be a beautiful moment of connection for families, roommates, friends, spouses…the works!
Adam J. Levy: One of the most exciting things about this performance is that it will be the first time this music is sung and interpreted by a quartet of voices rather than a trio. Aisha Jackson will be making her debut as an official member of our Princess Posse. I think our audience will be blown away by the extra bit of magic she brings to our BPP family.
Broadway Princess Party is streamed live Sunday, March 21, 2021, at 4 p.m. ET.
Presented by George Mason University’s Hylton Performing Arts Center & Center for the Arts. Digital livestream only. The digital performance will be streamed live directly from the Hylton Performing Arts Center’s Merchant Hall stage. Family friendly. $15–$45; pay-what-you-wish in $5 increments. Click here for tickets and information.