Like so many good princess stories, the tale of Broadway Princess Party starts at a royal ball. More specifically, at Broadway veteran music director Benjamin Rauhala’s birthday party in New York.
Rauhala mentioned to his friend Laura Osnes (Tony nominee and Broadway’s most recent Cinderella) that he had an idea for a concert he wanted to put together. She says, “He had this idea of doing a princess concert with princess songs, and wanted me to essentially host the evening. I got so excited about it that I went home and within hours had created a spreadsheet of all my girlfriends and their headshots, and which princess (songs) I wanted each of them to sing.”
A few months later, the very first Broadway Princess Party was held at 54 Below in New York City. It went so well that they decided to do it again six months later. The videos of the evening went viral, and more evenings were planned and quickly sold out. That’s when Laura says they started discussing the possibility of taking the party on the road.
Their first out-of-town date was in Southern California, where Rauhala reached out to Susan Egan, another actress with major princess credentials (she originated the role of Belle in Broadway’s "Beauty and the Beast," and also voiced Megara in Disney’s "Hercules"). She agreed to join them for the concert, and ended up joining them as a partner.
Broadway Princess Party LLC was born as a partnership between Rauhala, Osnes, Egan and Courtney Reed (who originated the role of Jasmine in Broadway’s "Aladdin"). They’ve taken the party to large and small venues around the country, and will arrive at the Lied Center in Lincoln Jan. 19.
Osnes says they’ve been overwhelmed by the response from audiences, which have not just been families with princess-loving kids in ball gowns.
“Honestly, it’s a lot of people my age (33) who grew up with these movies, and high school girls who love Broadway,” she says. “We love having kids attend, we encourage people to dress up, but it’s not just for kids. We aim to kind of have that thing that Pixar movies create, where there’s a lot for the kids, but also plenty of humor for the grownups so it can be entertaining for all ages. You’re getting Tony-nominated women singing the petticoats off of these beloved songs.”
Even as Broadway Princess Party approached its fourth anniversary, Osnes says the magic isn’t wearing off.
“I love doing the show,” she says. “I am loud and get emotional almost every performance. Susan Egan does a beautiful 'Beauty and the Beast' medley that makes Courtney and I cry almost every time. I get to sing ‘Journey to the Past’ from Anastasia, which is such an epic moment. Courtney gets to crush ‘Colors of the Wind’ and ‘A Whole New World.’ And just hearing the voices that did these songs either on Broadway or, in Susan’s case in the movie ‘Hercules,’ it just comes to life. It’s really special.”
For information and tickets to the Jan. 19 performance, go to liedcenter.org.
Osnes answers young fans’ questions
Author’s note: When I knew I was going to get to interview Laura Osnes for this story, I asked some young friends if they had any questions they’d like me to ask Cinderella. They did, and she had some magical answers.
Bea, age 3: “Is Fairy Godmother really part of your family?”
Osnes: “My Fairy Godmother only became my Fairy Godmother after I was kind and generous to her. I think Fairy godmothers are always around us, but only reveal their true identities when we’re most deserving.”
Katelyn, 4: “Do you still have your mice?”
Osnes: “I don’t have my mice with me anymore because I have a dog, and I wanted to protect them. They live outside in the garden where it’s safe.”
Mia, 12: “Do glass slippers make your feet sweaty?”
Osnes: “My glass slippers on Broadway were specially designed with special ventilation holes, so no. Fairy Godmother thinks of everything!”
Owynn, 8: “What’s the best part of being Cinderella?”
Osnes: “I really like being Cinderella because she’s known throughout the land for her charity, generosity and kindness. Those are qualities that anybody can look up to, and I love that she has a big imagination, that she loves to dream and dream big, and she doesn’t give up on her dream.”