The Los Alamitos High alumna (she was in Orange County School of the Arts’ first graduating class of 1988, when it was still an after-school program) is best known for her Tony-nominated portrayal of Belle in “Beauty and the Beast” on Broadway, which opened in 1994. But she almost didn’t audition for the musical that launched her career.
“I was a Sondheim snob! I thought, ‘They’re going to do a cartoon on Broadway?’ Disney wasn’t known for Broadway musicals at the time. But my agent wanted me to meet the casting director, so I went even though I didn’t think it was right for me. I’d never seen the film, which should have hurt my chances, but it actually helped because I couldn’t just do an impression of Paige (O’Hara, who voiced Belle in the animated film). The reason Paige’s Belle was so great was that she was authentic. And I was being authentic to myself.”
Egan was still performing as Belle when she landed the part as the voice of Megara in Disney’s animated “Hercules.” “The character was described as a Barbara Stanwyck type. Disney didn’t want me to audition because Belle was nothing like that. But I was a squeaky wheel, and they finally let me do it just to shut me up. In the audition, I really tried to get the cadence of that type of ’30s actress. They were shocked. I told them, when I play Belle, I’m acting. This is me. I’m sarcastic, I have a lower voice. It was so fun to play a character who was dark and sexy.”
In a break from the theater, Egan returned to O.C. as interim artistic director at OCSA for the 2002-03 school year. It was here she met her husband, comedy producer Robert Hartmann. “As soon as they found out I was single, all of the students and their moms were trying to set me up. A freshman actually asked (OCSA founder) Ralph (Opacic) if she could set me up with her uncle. That’s how I met my husband.”
The couple decided to move to Orange County in 2009 to raise their daughters—now 8 and 11—away from the industry in L.A. They live in Huntington Beach, and Egan says she tries to limit work to a week per month on average, to give her time to be a stay-at-home mom and Girl Scout troop leader.
When she is performing, it’s usually voiceover work (including Cartoon Network’s “Stephen Universe”), Disney Cruise Line gigs (“I get to take my kids and travel the world!”), or concerts such as the one this month in Aliso Viejo with South Coast Symphony.
“In the concert, I’ll sing a mix of stage and screen music: ‘My Fair Lady’ to ‘Hamilton,’ Judy Garland through the Disney heroines. It’s familiar, feel-good music. The month before, I’ll be doing some of the same songs with the same orchestration at Carnegie Hall honoring Alan Menken. It’s great to be able to bring that home to Orange County. And I will be sharing some fun backstage stories.”
Egan headlines South Coast Symphony’s “Stars on Broadway” concert on May 18. southcoastsymphony.org