After a day of being a good little whippersnapper my parents would let me plop myself down in front of TV and watch Disney movies. My adolescent brain would just them through some sort of photosynthesis-like process and now, no matter how hard I try (not that hard), I still remember almost every lyric to every Disney song I've ever heard.
If you were anything like me, you would hear the music and totally forget that these cartoons aren't real and that someone else, who exists totally outside of this film, has the exact same voice. Now that I'm older, I find it fascinating to look back on the making of these films and see what past-me was missing out on! Below are some of Disney's most famous songs and the people who gave them voices!
The Little Mermaid (1989) - Jodi Benson "Part of Your World"
One of the most iconic princess voices, Jodi Benson did both Ariel's singing and speaking voice. Since The Little Mermaid's release in 1989, she has voiced many familiar characters, including: reprising her role as Ariel in The Little Mermaid sequels, Weebo from Flubber (1997), as well as Barbie in Toy Story 2 (1999) and Toy Story 3 (2010). In 2011 Benson received the title of Disney Legend for her many contributions.
Beauty and the Beast (1991) - Richard White "Belle"
With a hearty list of Broadway credits and various roles at the New York City Opera behind him, Richard White is still best known for voicing the villainous Gaston. Also, how weird is it to see Gaston and now know that this is the voice behind him? Just goes to show how great of an actor he is because he's not at all what I imagined!
Aladdin (1992) - Lea Salonga and Brad Kane "A Whole New World"
While neither Lea Salonga nor Brad Kane voiced the speaking parts for Jasmine or Aladdin, their recording of "A Whole New World" is one of Disney's most iconic, and actually won an Oscar for Best Original Song at the 65th Academy Awards. Kane went on to perform on Broadway and briefly in a 3-episode stint on [Buffy the Vampire Slayer](movie:589175). In 2008 he had taken on the role of writer and co-producer of the show [Fringe](series:201468) for the first two seasons.
Lea Salonga is an absolute STAR! Prior to her work with Disney, Lea had already won a freakin' Tony by playing the original Kim in Miss Saigon at only 17. She then took on the role of Eponine in the 10th anniversary cast and Fantine in the 25th anniversary cast of Les Misérables. She went on to record other familiar Disney voices (see below) and was named a Disney Legend in 2010.
Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) - Jason Alexander, Charles Kimbrough, and Mary Wickes "A Guy Like You"
Although his voice might be harder to place, his face is definitely recognizable! Jason Alexander voiced Hugo, one of Quasimodo's gargoyle friends, has appeared in a number of films, and won a Tony for his role in Jerome Robbins' Broadway, but he is best known for playing George Costanza on Seinfeld.
Charles Kimbrough, Victor, continued to do various voiceover and television work and was part of the 2012 cast of the Broadway revival of Harvey. Mary Wickes who had played Laverne sadly passed away in 1995 before the release of The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Mulan (1998) - Lea Salonga "Reflection"
Need I say more about Lea Salonga? The woman is a total powerhouse and the perfect Fa Mulan. She is the only actress to play the singing voices of two Disney princesses! If you haven't had the chance to listen to any of her other work, she also has a few albums that have been very successful internationally.
Tangled (2010) - Mandy Moore & Zachary Levi "I See the Light"
Okay, everyone knows who Mandy Moore is by now, right? If not, where were you in the late 90s and early 2000s?! Along with playing Rapunzel in Tangled and being a famous pop singer, Moore played Jamie Sullivan in A Walk to Remember (a film that continues to crush hearts everywhere), the hilarious Hilary Faye in Saved!, and various other screen roles. She announced this July that she currently is working on a new album. Fans of the world rejoice!
Meanwhile, Zachary Levi was last seen in [Thor: The Dark World](movie:206462) as Fandral and continues to be a geek icon with Nerd Machine and Nerd HQ - and also a classically trained stage actor.
Frozen (2013) - Multi-Language (multi-singer) "Let It Go"
So, I know that this song is likely skippable for many of you since it is already seared deeply into our brains. But this version is actually very cool! It's really interesting to hear the song in all of these different languages. It helps convey just how important Disney is to the whole world! Yeah, we might be experiencing life from all different corners of the world, but don't we all just want to sing along to the [Frozen](movie:411685) soundtrack?
I'm sure I'm not wrong in assuming Disney has played an integral part in almost everyone's childhood. As adults, it's important to take time to look back on the things we used to love and find new things to love about them! Disney didn't become any less incredible just because we grew up a little bit!