It is a truth universally acknowledged that the villains in any animated Disney movie are far more entertaining and compelling than the princesses they are fighting against. They have better wardrobes, funnier quips and their songs are always more fun to sing in the shower. Sure, we want Prince Phillip to defeat the dragon and save Aurora, but we’re much more interested in watching Maleficent cast spells on everyone. Just in time for Halloween, Todrick Hall has decided to hand over the spotlight to the women who deserve it most with a re-written version of the Cell Block Tango from the musical Chicago starring the best Disney villainesses — and Scar — as the six Merry Murderesses.
A former American Idol finalist turned actor and filmmaker, Hall has become known for his YouTube videos that combine show tunes or Top-40 hits with popular culture, such as his video “Cinderonce“, which told the story of Cinderella using only Beyoncé songs. For “Spell Block Tango”, he recruited several celebrities, such as Glee‘s Amber Riley as Ursula the Sea Witch, fellow Idol finalist Pia Toscano as Maleficent and Broadway star Shoshanna Bean as Cruella de Vil to bring the number to life. The whole clip is amazing, but just in case you’re not convinced by the phrases “Disney Villainesses” and “Cell Block Tango”, we’ve picked out five highlights of “Spell Block Tango”.
Adam Lambert cameos as Captain Hook. The song kicks off with the ladies being introduced by an MC, and while Hall could have just used a voiceover, he chose instead to throw one more villain into the mix by having Lambert take on Captain Hook. Hook might not be the most glamorous of Disney’s bad guys, but he’s definitely become one of the most iconic, and his quick appearance is the perfect touch. Plus, it allows Hall to change the name of the prison to the much more fitting “Captain Hook’s County Jail”.
Cruella De Vil gets the recognition she deserves. Despite being just as fabulous and well-dressed as her fellow villainesses, Cruella De Vil is rarely celebrated by Disney fans in the same way that Ursula and Maleficent are, which is a shame considering red lips and Dalmatian-print never go out of fashion. Besides, none of the other villainesses ever had their own theme song. However, Hall gives her the respect she deserves by including her in the lineup and allowing her to get revenge on her bumbling henchmen, Horace and Jasper, whose major crime was the inability to tell the difference between spots and dots.
Amber Riley is a better Ursula than the cartoon. Forget Mercedes Jones; Ursula is clearly the role that Riley was born to play. Channeling all of the sea witch’s confidence and sass, Riley lets her inner diva out and somehow makes Ursula even more dramatic and fabulous than she is in the original film. If Disney ever decides to make a live-action version of the The Little Mermaid or revive the Broadway musical, they should hire Riley immediately — her version of “Poor Unfortunate Souls” would make every member of the audience root for Ursula instead of Ariel.
The Red Queen’s “language” is just the names of minor Disney characters. In Hall’s rendition of the classic show tune, it’s the Red Queen who is wrongly accused of committing a murder since she can’t speak English. But since this is an homage to Disney, instead of speaking Hungarian, like the character in the musical does, the Red Queen instead speaks only in the names of famous animated sidekicks. Hardcore Disney fans will appreciate the namedropping of Archimedes, LeFou, and Pluto Jr, but the gag still works well within the song as a whole.
Scar is one of the Merry Murderesses. Scar might not be the obvious choice for a performance like this, but he is a perfect one, with his scene-stealing number, drawling monologues and the ability to traumatize children of all ages by throwing his brother into a stampede. Besides, he’s the only one of the “Merry Murderesses” present who actually did kill someone, and for that reason alone he deserves a spot amongst the most treacherous Disney villains of all time.