When Isabelle McCalla walks onto the stage at Altria Theater for Disney Princess: The Concert on November 16, don’t expect the Broadway veteran to be dressed as a Disney Princess. McCalla like the other three actresses on stage will be dressed as themselves in flowing evening gowns, not costumes.
“The show is a crossover between a Broadway show and a pop concert. We play ourselves and share our stories, our connection to Disney movies and our experiences playing these roles on Broadway. We break the fourth wall,” says McCalla, who played Jasmine in Aladdin on Broadway as well as on the national tour.
She recently reprised her starring role for Disney’s upcoming film of the stage production, Aladdin: Live from the West End, filmed at the iconic Prince Edward Theatre in London. McCalla later starred in the Broadway production of The Prom.
Disney Princess: The Concert focuses on the beloved songs of Disney, bringing them to life on stage.
“The show is unique. We have four Broadway-caliber actresses and each of us is our own heroine. We get to support each other,” says McCalla, noting they perform in front of a 40-foot LED screen that shows larger-than-life animation and offers theatrical effects.
A Broadway Star in the Making
Growing up in New York gave McCalla the opportunity to see Broadway productions at an early age. She was five years old when her mother took her to Cats on Broadway. The show left a lasting impression on her.
“I was siting in the aisle and one of the cats from the show crawled up the aisle and sat next to me. I said good kitty and she nuzzled up to me,” says McCalla who knew at that moment she wanted to be part of that type of theatrical magic.
She was also familiar with the magic of Disney. Her parents were ballroom dance teachers and when she went with them to their classes, she would pop in a VHS tape and watch Disney movies.
“I was a fan of Disney. I went through the whole Disney catalogue watching those tapes,” she says.
McCalla graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in musical theater. She has appeared on Broadway as well as national tours and television.
Landing the role of Jasmine in the Broadway production of Aladdin was a “dream come true,” she says. “I looked up to Jasmine when I was younger. She looked like me. She was smart, independent, and spoke her mind. I would run around on the playground and say, ‘I am not a prize to be won.’ I was inspired by her.”
She hopes her performances of Jasmine did the same for young girls in the audience.
“Every night when we hopped on the magic carpet and took off, you could hear the gasps from the audience. It was cool to give the audience the piece of magic I had as a kid,” she says.
A Princess at Heart
In Disney Princess: The Concert McCalla performs the songs Jasmine, Moana, Pocahontas, and Mulan. One of her favorite songs to perform is Colors of the Wind from Pocahontas.
“The lyrics are so poignant and beautiful. They are honoring the earth,” she says. “It’s a song of love and compassion. I love that I get to spread that message every day.”
While McCalla isn’t dressed like a specific princess in the show, she does notice that many young girls in the audience are dressed up as Disney princesses. The show, however, isn’t designed specifically for a younger audience.
“The show is geared toward the millennial generation. We grew up, but we didn’t grow out of our love for Disney princesses,” she says. “The show represents all generations of Disney fans. It is so transcending that any generation can relate to it.”
Disney Princess: The Concert is showing at Altria Theater on Wednesday, November 16, at 7 p.m. Recommended for six and up. For more information, go here.