Beyoncé dedicates 'When You Wish Upon a Star' to health workers in 'Disney Family Singalong'
When you wish upon a star, maybe Beyoncé will show up.
Viewers enjoyed a surprise appearance by Queen Bey Thursday during "The Disney Family Singalong," an ABC special designed to provide spoonfuls of sugar – as in the "Mary Poppins" classic and a brighter mood – during challenging coronavirus times.
Scenes from classic Disney animated films provided colorful backdrops for many of the performances, which, obviously, had to be limited in production scope. Lyrics ran at the bottom of the screen, with a golden set of Mickey Mouse ears doing a follow-the-bouncing-ball imitation to help at-home singers.
Beyoncé, an unannounced addition, dedicated "When You Wish Upon a Star" from "Pinocchio" to "all of the health care workers who have been working tirelessly to keep us healthy and safe." After a sweetly aching performance, accompanied by piano, she offered words of encouragement: "Please hold on to your families tight. Please be safe. Don't give up hope. We're going to get through this. I promise. God bless you."
A highlight of the hour-long special, which was hosted by "American Idol" mainstay Ryan Seacrest and encouraged donations to Feeding America, was a group performance of the appropriately titled "High School Musical" anthem "We're All In This Together" that reunited Kenny Ortega, director of the 2006 hit musical, and stars Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, Corbin Bleu, Monique Coleman and Lucas Grabeel.
Zac Efron didn't take part in the performance, but he offered an introduction while "hunkered down in the middle of nowhere with patchy Wi-Fi," as Seacrest put it.
"Hi, everyone. I hope that you're safe and you're healthy and you're doing as well as possible during these unprecedented times," said Efron, who then introduced "some of my oldest friends and some new ones. I hope that you enjoy and remember: We are all in this together."
After Ortega and the "High School" cast had their reunion, they were joined in their performance by stars of other Disney TV films and series, including Dove Cameron, Booboo Stewart, Sofia Carson of "Descendants;" Milo Manheim and Meg Donnelly from "Zombies;" and Joshua Bassett and Olivia Rodrigo from Disney+'s "High School Musical: The Musical: The Series." Raven-Symoné sang, too.
In another big collaboration, Tony Award winner James Monroe Iglehart and eight members of the Broadway company of "Aladdin" teamed on that show's "Friend Like Me." At one point, their nine-box arrangement looked like "The Brady Bunch" opening.
Aguilera added a homey touch, giving her dog a quick peck before singing "Can You Feel the Love Tonight." The dog seemed perfectly at peace resting next to the superstar singer. She blew a kiss to viewers at home when she finished.
"When is the last time you got to sing along with Christina Aguilera?" asked Seacrest, who was accompanied by ceramic versions of Mrs. Potts and Chip from "Beauty and the Beast."
The at-home feel was evident in many of the performances, as Little Big Town, split into three groups, performed Julie Andrews' famous "A Spoonful of Sugar" in their various kitchens, with their children joining in.
"Dancing With the Stars" alum Derek Hough and his girlfriend, dancer Hayley Erbert, made the most of their confines, donning bright period costumes as they danced through the kitchen. Hough's sister, Julianne, called mid-performance, joining on a split screen in a sparkly blue dress.
Josh Groban, accompanied by children singing and dancing from remote locations, sang "You've Got a Friend in Me" from "Toy Story," while Donny Osmond made the most of the family theme, singing a popular "Mulan" song, "I'll Make a Man Out of You" with his grandchildren.
In another performance, Auliʻi Cravalho split-screened in sync with her animated title character from "Moana," performing "How Far I'll Go." Cravalho, singing from her home as animated Moana rode the waves in a boat, said the song, written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, was appropriate for today with so many "feeling stuck where you are, but wanting more from life and dreaming about the future."
Grande, glamorously made up and wearing a purple shawl over a silver top, had the most professional-looking performance, a music-video level "I Won't Say I'm In Love" from "Hercules," "my No. 1 favorite Disney movie." At one point, the singer, appearing on multiple screens, provided her own backing harmony.
The show found creative ways to bring performers together, with "Beauty" composer Alan Menken and a framed split-screen of Josh Gad and Luke Evans above his piano, joining for "Gaston."
Other songs included "Colors of the Wind" from "Pocahontas" (Tori Kelly); “Let It Go” from "Frozen" (Amber Riley); and “I Wan’na Be Like You” from "The Jungle Book (Darren Criss). Criss cut multiple takes, playing guitar, providing percussion and singing.
Bublé and Lovato went way back in the Disney catalog to close out the show with "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes" from "Cinderella," as families posed with signs thanking doctors, nurses, police officers, teachers, truck drivers and other essential workers.