Hi, I'm Morgan! I'm a twenty-something theater critic and writer (which really just means I've been a Theater Kid my whole life but now I'm an adult) based somewhere between Baltimore and Washington DC. 

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I've been a theater writer since 2016, and I'm so excited to share my passion for the arts with you! Happy reading!

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Review: "Disney Princess - The Concert" is a Dream Come True

For generations, audiences have been inspired by the love and kindness of Disney Princesses. Over 25 years ago, these stories were brought to the stage with the opening of “Beauty and the Beast” on Broadway in 1994. Since then, Disney has maintained its Broadway presence, with shows like “The Lion King,” “Frozen,” “Mary Poppins,” and “Aladdin” becoming fan favorites.

But for the first time in forever, some of these princesses have joined forces to create “Disney Princess – The Concert.” Starring some of the women that have portrayed our favorite heroines on stage and screen, the concert features Disney songs and behind-the-scenes-stories as these real life princesses discuss their time on Broadway.

Originally created by Fairy Godfairy and creative genius/piano player Benjamin Rauhala, the current cast includes Susan Egan, (who originated the role of “Belle” on Broadway), Christy Altomare (the original Anya/Anastasia in “Anastasia” on Broadway), Courtney Reed (the original Jasmine in “Aladdin), and Syndee Winters (Nala in “The Lion King). As this princess quartet ruled over The Kennedy Center with the help of Fairy Godfairy Benjamin and handsome prince Adam J Levy, it’s about as close to Disney World as you can get.

Before the curtain even went up, there was a sprinkle of that Disney magic in the air. Guests were encouraged to wear their best princess or prince attire, and the rich purple lighting in the Concert Hall cast a royal glow on all of the sparkly tiaras and twirling dresses. Accompanied by Washington DC’s own National Symphony Orchestra, Rauhala acted as production narrator and told his own story, reminding audiences that he is living proof dreams can come true.

As the lovely princesses took the stage in gorgeous, jewel colored dresses, theater and film came together as the ladies created an environment that is warm, hopeful, and full of that giddy energy you only have when you get to indulge in childhood favorites. Rauhala delicately created beautiful four-part harmonies, adding richness and tone to songs like “For the First Time in Forever” and “Let It Go.” As each performer brought new princesses to life, the corresponding movie clips played on a large screen on the wall behind her.

While the production is flawless from start to finish, there were a few moments that stood out above the rest. Altomare’s rendition of “When Will My Life Begin?” from “Tangled” is one of them. If Disney ever decides to bring “Tangled” to Broadway (hey Disney, bring “Tangled” to Broadway), this is my formal petition to cast Altomare as Rapunzel. While still bringing the character’s adorable naivety and confidence, she also gracefully and delicately brought her own Broadway flair. When combined with Egan’s strong Mother Gothel notes during “Mother Knows Best,” their energy and chemistry was unstoppable.

While Rapunzel is part of the more modern, independent take on Disney Princesses, one cannot forget the ladies who started it all. Altomare performed a lovely tribute to the original princesses with a medley of songs from “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” “Cinderella,” and “Sleeping Beauty,” as original drawings and concept art seamlessly blended with the final footage from the films on the screen behind her.

Susan Egan was Broadway's first Disney princess, and the concert played on the idea of her serving as this sort of maternal, wiser figure with knowledge to share. In addition to originating the role of Belle, she also voiced Meg in Disney’s animated film “Hercules.” With enough snark and one liners to keep parents entertained, Egan shared stories of auditioning for the Disney company and a few behind-the-scenes anecdotes from her time on Broadway.

Courtesy of the "Disney Princess - The Concert" website

But it was her rendition of “I Won’t Say I’m in Love” from “Hercules” that proved to be her shining moment. With more flawless harmonies (thanks to Rauhala’s incredible arrangements), the other women flocked around her as the muses and step-touch-finger-snapped in true musical theater fashion. Sure it was a little corny, but Egan shared her memories with such fondness and love that the effect was heartwarming, rather than groan-inducing.

Princess Jasmine has long been known as one of the princesses that never got an “I Want” song in her original film. As Broadway’s original Jasmine, Reed discussed how she was determined to change that for the stage. As a result, composer Alan Menken (who wrote the music for both the original film and the Broadway production), wrote her “Palace Walls” for the stage version, and later wrote “Speechless” for the new “Aladdin” film released in 2019. Reed combined these two big-belt feminist anthems in her performance, creating a bold, modern Princess Jasmine that has been 20 years in the making.

In comparison to Reed’s big belt performance, Winters’ performance of “Shadowland” was a softer, calmer (but no less lovely) number. I’ll be the first to say it- the songs written specifically for the stage version of “The Lion King” do not get nearly enough credit. But as Winters once again embraced her inner Nala, she made sure this number would not be forgotten in an effortless display of talent, range, and emotion.

While this number was on the more delicate side, Winters later got a chance to show off as Princess Tiana in her rendition of “Almost There” from “The Princess and the Frog.” Without sacrificing any of Tiana’s jazzy, high-kick New Orleans flair, Winters is another one that effortlessly combines theater riffs and flair with that original Disney sweetness.

Of course, one cannot discuss the Disney Princesses without discussing their handsome princes. Thankfully, Levy manages to strike the perfect balance between enriching flawless duets like “Whole New World” and “Love is an Open Door” without overpowering the theme of female empowerment and independence. His silky smooth voice is as dashing as his well-tailored suit, and he earns his princely title with impeccable manners while still maintaining the cheekiness needed to play a thief in disguise and an evil, plotting prince.

There is undeniably something special about seeing these women reprise their roles and sing songs that have raised generations. The combination of stage and screen reignites that little bit of Disney magic while still including enough humor to ensure adults are well-entertained. By combining these tales that are as old as time (sorry, sorry) with their Broadway counterparts, each song brings a new message of courage, kindness, and love while introducing new generations to the wonder that theater can be. It sounds like such a simple idea, but these lovely princesses and their Fairy Godfairy have managed to bottle joy and happiness, spreading a little bit of that faith, love, and pixie dust.

“Disney Princess – The Concert” runs approximately two hours with intermission and is recommended for a general audience. The production is suggested for ages 6 and up. All persons entering the theater, regardless of age, must have a ticket. This production features Broadway performers appearing as themselves. Costumed Disney characters do not appear at this event.

Feature Photo Credit: Courtesy of The Kennedy Center