Royal vocals

  • by Jim Gladstone
  • Wednesday May 30, 2018
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In a cloud of pink smoke and glitter, not one, not two, but three-well, let's call it three and a half-princesses land in town this weekend. Accompanied by music director Benjamin "(Cute as a) Button" Rauhala, New York theater stars Susan Egan (the original Belle from Beauty and the Beast), Laura Osnes (Cinderella) and Courtney Reed (Broadway's first Jasmine in Aladdin) will perform at Feinstein's at the Nikko in Broadway Princess Party, a program of diaphanous ditties and empowered ballads inspired by royal gals of stage and screen.

All in their thirties, the members of this princess posse have lived under the influence of pixie dust since childhood. The Bay Area Reporter subjected them to a royal inquisition.

Jim Gladstone: As a kid, were you into Disney princesses?

Courtney Reed: I remember when I saw Aladdin. Jasmine was the first ethnic Disney princess and the only one I felt like I looked like. I wanted to be exactly like her.

Laura Osnes: I loved Ariel from The Little Mermaid because her gift was her voice, and I felt that mine was, too.

Susan Egan: I had this crazy fantasy that I'd wake up and find one of those enormous poofy princess dresses under my bed.

Benjamin Rauhala: I was sooo into princesses, especially Ariel. She has the best voice in the sea, she has perfect hair. I had multiple Ariel dolls, including one with a wind-up voice box that said, "Flounder, don't be such a guppy." Sassy!

In your childhood fantasies, who was your personal Prince Charming?

Egan: Paul Newman was definitely an inspiration. Not just for the immensity of his talent and the iconic roles he played, but also for using his celebrity to make the world a better place.

Reed: I had lots of crushes. Early on I was in love with the baby brother in Surf Ninjas and, of course, Atreyu in The Never-Ending Story. As I got older it was Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Welling and Paul Walker.

Osnes: Titanic and Lord of the Rings came out in my middle school and high school years, so it was Leonardo DiCaprio and Orlando Bloom.

Rauhala: Leo for me too; and later, Justin Timberlake.

What's your favorite princess song?

Egan: I love the music from Enchanted. It's just so smart! The lyrics and melodies pay homage to the prince and princess canon, while also satirizing it. I also love that Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz wrote that score, parodying their own music from prior movies. The key here is having a sense of humor about it all, while never actually making fun of it - that's a hard balance to strike and the film does it perfectly! From "True Love's Kiss" to "Happy Working Song" - perfection!

Reed: That's hard. There are so many. If I had to pick just one it would have to be "Part of Your World," from The Little Mermaid. I used to sing it all of the time as a kid!

Rahula: I'm going to go with "Home" from the stage version of Beauty and the Beast. At home, after I saw the show on Broadway, I would drape a blanket over two chairs and pretend to play piano along with my cassette tape of Susan singing the song. That's when I started begging my parents for piano lessons!

Osnes: I have a soft spot for "A Whole New World" from Aladdin because I met my husband understudying those parts together in Minnesota. The real Al and Jas collided on stage and had to go to the hospital. So Nate and I went on together - our first kiss was onstage and we started dating a few days later. We've now been married almost 11 years!

And what's your favorite song by Prince?

Osnes: "1999." I pretty much only listened to showtunes growing up, so the fact that I know any Prince song is an accomplishment.

Rauhala: I'm going to go with "1999," because I have such strong memories both of this song being everywhere in 1999, and of New Year's Eve in 1999 when we all thought that Y2K was going to shut computers down everywhere.

Reed: I literally did not grow up to Prince! I only remember Julia Roberts singing to him in the bathtub in Pretty Woman! ["Kiss"]

Egan: "Purple Rain." I'm singin' in the purple rain...

So, as a princess, you can have your favorite dishes served up by the palace chef. What would you order?

Osnes: I'm a sucker for Mexican food. Give me some chips and guac with a margarita, and I am good to go!

Reed: Sorry, Chef, but my mom and grandma make my favorite food-the best Thai dishes you'll ever eat.

Egan: I'm definitely the princess with control issues who wanders down to the sub-basement kitchen to cook everything myself (current obsession, green smoothies) and hang with the staff, where I'm far more comfortable than in the ballroom.

Rauhala: My favorite food is Cotton Candy, made lovingly at the Royal Fair, which, in my head, looks suspiciously like the carnival in Love, Simon. Anyone want to meet me at the Ferris Wheel? Blue?!?

The Beatles had 'the cute one,' 'the smart one,' 'the quiet one' and 'the funny one.' Among the Princess Party gang, which 'one' would you be?

Osnes: I guess I'd say "The Cute One." As co-creator and host, I tend to bring that extra energy and adorable-at times, campy-sparkle. And perhaps there's a genuineness, vulnerability, and childlike joy that comes out when I sing these Princess songs.

Rauhala: First, I know Courtney didn't have an answer for this, so I'm going to call her 'The Fashionable One,' because she has her own line of chokers and the most incredible sense of style []. And for me, I'll take 'The Funny One,' because I often get to provide the silliness and comic relief in moments where the girls have to be completely in character.

Egan: 'The Sarcastic One.' As much as I originated Belle, and do share several attributes with her, I am most definitely Meg from Hercules-the other Disney role I created-the heroine with the string of bad boyfriends and an attitude to go along with it. She is known for her dry wit and sass. I think that's kinda where I live.

'Broadway Princess Party' at Feinstein's at the Nikko; Saturday, June 2 at 8 p.m., Sunday, June 3 at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. $49-$85 ($20 food/drink min.) Hotel Nikko, 222 Mason St.