A Disney Q&A With Ashley Brown, Michael James Scott, Kissy Simmons, and Josh Strickland
The stars of the new Live at the New Am concert tell us about their Disney faves.
Four of Disney on Broadway's longtime veterans — Ashley Brown (Mary in Mary Poppins), Michael James Scott (Genie in Aladdin), Kissy Simmons (Nala in The Lion King), and Josh Strickland (Tarzan in Tarzan) will take the stage this weekend for a special concert series called Live at the New Am: A Benefit Concert for the Actors Fund. The shows, running July 22-25, will feature Disney's big hit songs and will celebrate both the return of Broadway and the great work of the Actors Fund.
Before taking the stage, the four stars filled us in about all of their Disney favorites — some of which may surprise you!
What is your favorite Disney song to sing, and why?
Michael James Scott: "When You Wish Upon A Star." It's the quintessential Disney song and represents such hope and wonderment!
Ashley Brown: "A Change In Me." It holds so much meaning for me. It was one of my big songs in Disney's On the Record and it's the song that I got to sing when I made my Broadway debut as Belle in Beauty and the Beast. It just always resonates with me no matter where I am in my life.
Kissy Simmons: My favorite Disney song to sing is "Shadowland" from The Lion King. This song is filled with so much passion and determination. It's hard not to love. "Shadowland" will always be a personal favorite.
Josh Strickland: That's hard to answer! I have to say I have two: I love singing "You'll Be in My Heart" because it has such a special place in my heart for obvious reasons, and then I absolutely love singing "Sante Fe" [from Newsies]! The storytelling in that gorgeous song is always so fun to sing.
What is your favorite Disney theme park and/or ride, and why?
Ashley: It's hard to choose! I love Disneyland because it has so much history and a such connection with Walt Disney himself, and you can do the parks all in one day! I love Walt Disney World because it's so much bigger and has all the fun hotels, as well.
Michael: My favorite ride is "Splash Mountain."
Kissy: I love "Rock 'n' Roller Coaster" [at Hollywood Studios]. My motto is "Go and Go Hard." That's exactly what that ride does until it's finished.
Josh: Another hard one! I would say it's between the "Haunted Mansion" and the Indiana Jones ride in Disneyland.
Who's your favorite Disney villain?
Kissy: My favorite Disney villain is Dr. Facilier and his shadow in Princess and the Frog. He's very sinister and charismatic.
Ashley: Ursula. I always thought she was funny and sassy on top of being the villain, and she has a great song!
If you could star in any other Disney movie-to-stage adaptation (which already exists or doesn't), what role would you play and why?
Kissy: With stage performances being on pause for the past year and a half, I would embrace any character to play. Kidding, not kidding! Neytiri in Avatar would be a cool character to play. I love playing strong, ferocious, and athletic characters.
Michael: I would play a narrator in the stage adaption of Fantasia or Tigger in Winnie the Pooh, the Musical.
Ashley: A lot of my wishes came true with Belle and Mary Poppins. I love Snow White, though. The music is incredible and the orchestrations are so full and sound amazing with a 100-piece orchestra. Also, she was the OG brunette Disney princess who loves music and animals, so I always thought we had a lot in common.
Josh: There are so many amazing Disney scores and films, but off the top of my head I would have to say I would love to play the Louis the Alligator in Princess and the Frog. Or some capacity The Aristocats. The music of both of those films are some of my faves!