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Is Disney’s Esmeralda a Fraud?

Last night I came across something interesting. As I was watching a couple of video performances on YouTube of the fine staff at Brandy’s Piano Bar in New York City,  I was recommended a video of “God Help The Outcasts.” The caption read that the singing voice of Esmeralda was provided by Heidi Mollenhauer, and noted that before landing the role in the movie, she was a popular singing waitress at Eighty Eights and Brandy’s Piano Bar. Now, being the curious gent that I am, I decided to research Heidi and found, well… almost nothing. Seriously, not even a photograph, that is, until I decided to watch Disney‘s “The Making of The Hunchback of Notre Dame” on YouTube.

The documentary was narrated by Jason Alexander, who, after twenty four minutes, finally introduces us to “Broadway Star Heidi Mollenhauer” as she sings “God Help The Outcasts.” Now, I wouldn’t normally be one to raise a flag here, as I do think she did a fine job in her voiceover work, but Heidi Mollenhauer does not have any Broadway credits. The only proof of her acting experience lies in the online Theatre Yearbook 1988-1989 where it credits her in an Off Off Broadway production called “Prizes.”

The only reason I really find this odd is because, as a lot of you know, the women who provide the singing voices to Disney heroines are, a lot of the time, famous for doing just that. Just think of how often Jodi Benson sings “Part Of Your World” at special events, not to mention Lea Salonga (Princess Jasmine and Mulan) and Judy Kuhn (Pocahontas). We as the audience have come to know the singers over time, whether its through Broadway, the opera (as with Mary Costa, singing voice of Princess Aurora), or various documentaries where we revisit classics such as Snow White where we were  re-introduced to Adriana Caselotti.

In any case, Disney’s singing voices have always been personalities who we have come to know through various forms of entertainment. I just find it odd that they would lie when introducing a performer in a box office hit that grossed over three hundred million dollars.

Watch the documentary below. Skip forward twenty four minutes to see Jason Alexander introduce “Broadway Star Heidi Mollenhauer.”

With all that being said, I’m just curious about this performer. Who is she? Where did she go? If she was indeed a star somewhere (I don’t mean summer stock in Rochester), feel free to share!

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One response

  1. Well here’s the thing- would you lie on your resume and say you have a Masters degree from Harvard if you didn’t? Probably not. And the people who have achieved such goals, whether academic or career related do in fact deserve the recognition. I think its awesome that this artist was able to voice a Disney character whilst being a relative unknown. In my opinion, thats often more exciting than using an obvious choice for the part. Another reason I’m saying this is because having gone to a classical music conservatory, I also have the exact same credits as the artist in question. Meaning, I’ve performed in “Off-off Broadway” venues in small productions and have performed in some of the exact same venues as Miss Mollenhauer, including her former place of employment, but I would never dream of crediting myself as a “Broadway star” unless I actually went through the process and achieved that goal.

    June 9, 2012 at 3:48 pm

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