Theater lovers looking for a break between repeat viewings of "Hamilton" on Disney Plus can check out something local this weekend.
Stars, which launched its first streaming show — "Dear Elizabeth" for Stars Playhouse — last weekend, returns Friday with the musical "Disenchanted."
Originally planning to offer dinner and a video presentation of the show inside its Chester Avenue theater, Stars moved the musical to online only after last week's state order halting indoor dining.
In this "stay at home" version of the musical comedy, some well-known ladies weigh in on their stories — and how those have been misrepresented in popular culture.
Although these are not Disney princesses, those characters made popular by the Mouse are well-represented: Snow White (Jennifer Resolme), The Princess Who Kissed The Frog (Caley Mayhall), Cinderella (Gianna De Keles), Pocahontas (Rosie Ayala), Sleeping Beauty (Bethany Lahammer), Hua Mulan (Jacqueline Salazar), Belle (Nichole Heasley) and The Little Mermaid (Erica Lynn).
"This show is highly underrated," Abby Bowles-Votaw, the show's co-director, wrote in an email. "It was an off-Broadway show and now has this virtual platform setting. The script is witty and comical and the lyrics are hilarious.
"I love the song 'Finally' — the Princess Who Kissed the Frog's song. It is very poignant to everything that is going on in the United States right now. Each Princess has their own song to discuss their story and the group numbers are just as equally fantastic."
Alex Neal, show co-director and the theater's operations manager, said he was hooked right away by the musical.
"I listened to it and fell in love with its smart lyrics and catchy music," he wrote in an email. "I also felt it would be an interesting show to mount for the theatre."
Neal said the theater took a different approach to its second streaming production.
"'Dear Elizabeth' was done in a traditional theatrical presentation," he wrote. "'Disenchanted' is more like 'Saturday Night Live' meets Disney Princesses. So we are playing around with our presentation of shows to see what format works better for audiences."
The directors split duties with Bowles-Votaw working with the actors and Neal coordinating the technical aspects, working with sound engineer Sean Green, videographer/editor Chris Heasley and technical director Gabe Urena. Rounding out the crew was Alyssa Roca on props and costumer Laura Engle.
Bowles-Votaw said the rehearsal process was about three weeks, with each actor learning their role and music on their own, then having a vocal rehearsal for harmonies and another to record the tracks.
"For the vocal tracks we reimagined the full theatre space as a sound studio and created safe zones," Neal wrote. "Each lady had their own headphones and personal microphone to record audio tracks, this way they could hear each other and still interact over a distance."
Each performer was then brought in independently to record video for their performance.
"It took on average around two hours to record each one," Bowles-Votaw wrote. "Then in the editing process, we mashed them all together and came up with the final product."
"Disenchanted" will be available for streaming on Friday. Before the show, the cast and the directors will take part in a Princess Party Q&A Facebook Live at 7 p.m. on the theater's page.
"Because theater and all arts are at a stand still right now, I want people to just enjoy a fun, comedic show for an hour," Bowles-Votaw wrote. "I hope it might brighten their day given all this uncertainty that we have had these past four months. This was a total 'guinea pig' project that I think the ladies knocked out of the park."
With no one sure when theaters will be able to resume live productions, Neal said Stars is ready to keep experimenting.
"We would love to continue to provide innovative new virtual theatre experiences to audiences while waiting for things to open up again," he wrote.
"Ultimately it will be the audience's choice, if we get support and these performances are successful we will be able to continue to innovate and expand the offerings. We have plenty of ideas."