The voice cast from Disney’s Hercules joined Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley for a special episode of Stars in the House.
The cast appeared in two batches:
- the Muses: Lillias White (Calliope), LaChanze (Terpischore), Cheryl Freeman (Melpomene), and Roz Ryan (Thalia)
- the Main Characters: Tate Donovan (Adult Hercules), Susan Egan (Megara), Danny Devito (Philoctetes), and Roger Bart (Singing Voice of Hercules)
Hercules was a 1997 Disney animated film loosely based on Greek mythology. The story centers on the adventures of Hercules, the son of Zeus and Hera, who needs to become a true hero in order to restore his immortality, of which he was deprived by his villainous uncle, Hades. Throughout his journey he is supported by his winged horse, Pegasus, his satyr trainer, Phil, and his cynical love interest, Meg.
Hercules was adapted into a stage musical and had a tryout in Central Park in August 2019. Earlier this year, Menken mentioned during Rosie O’Donnell’s charity special that he was working on bringing Hercules to Broadway someday.
A live-action remake is also currently in the works to be produced by Joe and Anthony Russo. This adaptation is expected to feature the songs from the original film.
The members of the cast all shared their experiences when auditioning for the film with the exception of Danny Devito for whom the role of Phil had been specifically written. The Muses talked about how much they enjoyed recording the upbeat music that was a combination of Gospel and R&B.The recording sessions were always full of energy and the production team was impressed at how the ladies would harmonize, blend perfectly, and “hit notes in the stratosphere.” They also talked about singing with a full orchestra accompaniment and Alan Menken recently saying, “They don’t make it like that anymore.”
LaChanze also mentioned how proud and fortunate she felt to be a part of history. Since Hercules came out in 1997, the Muses were effectively the first black characters to be animated by Disney, years before Tiana in The Princess and the Frog.
Both Susan Egan and Roger Bart also talked about songs that didn’t make it to the film. Egan mentioned that Menken had originally written a typical soaring ballad for Meg but when the production team felt it didn’t suit the character, they came up with the more upbeat “I Won’t Say I’m In Love.” Bart also talked about another ballad written for young Hercules, called “Shooting Star,” which the team felt was too sad and introspective. This was eventually replaced with the more triumphant “Go the Distance.” Menken even discusses both songs in a separate article.
In between anecdotes, Rudetsky shared clips of the stars recording different iconic songs from the film such as “The Gospel Truth,” “One Last Hope,” “Zero to Hero,” and “I Won’t Say I’m in Love.” The show ended with a clip of Roger Bart singing “Go the Distance” during a recent show with Seth entitled Disaster!
When asked about their future projects, Donovan mentioned the upcoming Aretha Franklin biopic, Respect; Egan mentioned a surprise project she is currently rehearsing while quarantined with Laura Osnes and Courtney Reed; Devito voiced a character on Disney’s The One and Only Ivan, and Bart is playing the mad professor in the stage musical version of Back to the Future.
Stars in the House is a series of daily livestreamed concerts and conversations with Broadway stars hosted by Rudetsky and Wesley as a regular fundraiser for The Actors Fund. Each episode is a combination of music, community, and education, the last part featuring consultations with CBS Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook. The series was launched in March and will continue until Broadway reopens. As of September 26, Stars in the House has raised over $514, 000 for The Actors Fund.
Watch the whole reunion below: