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Producer Claire Salmon and Set Designer Olivier Dusautoir talk Disneyland Paris’ ‘Alice & the Queen of Hearts’

Set Designer Olivier Dusautoir and Producer Claire Salmon

Entertainment

Producer Claire Salmon and Set Designer Olivier Dusautoir talk Disneyland Paris’ ‘Alice & the Queen of Hearts’

Following a chat with Guillaume Coignard, Music Producer at Disneyland Paris and Matteo Borghi, Show Director at the resort we now speak to Producer Claire Salmon and Set Designer Olivier Dusautoir…

Last weekend, as it continues to expand its entertainment offerings, Disneyland Paris launched Alice & the Queen of Hearts: Back to Wonderland, a wild new show that offers a modern take on the timeless story of the Walt Disney Animation Studios film Alice in Wonderland. A unique musical show presented in the newly unveiled theatre at Walt Disney Studios Park: “Theater of the Stars,” presented by EDF. Running from now until 29th September 2024, this electrifying show is sure to transport guests of all ages down the rabbit hole and immerse them into an urban version of Wonderland!

After launching TOGETHER: a Pixar Musical Adventure, Disney Electrical Sky Parade with up to 500 drones and A Million Splashes of Colour over the last few months, the resort is now delighted to add this production like no other at Disneyland Paris to its lineup, strengthening its position as an entertainment leader in Europe.

 How did you come up with the idea of reimagining the stunt show arena? 

Claire: We wanted to bring this whole area back to life, as it hadn’t been home to any show for quite some time. Yet, we found it important to give it an all-new aspect. Therefore, we had to transform the entire theatre in order to deliver a different experience to our guests. Our stage is ginormous – 68 metres long and 16 metres high – and we really wanted our guests to be able to admire our décor and the performances under the best possible conditions.

Where in Wonderland are we exactly? 

Olivier: I would say halfway between the Mad Hatter’s house, where the tea party takes place, and the Queen of Hearts’ labyrinth. The central stage also displays an arch structure that is reminiscent of the rabbit hole into which Alice falls when she follows the White Rabbit.

How did you incorporate performers’ equipment into the décor? 

Olivier: This was an intricate process, as we had to incorporate many elements in a way that would make sense. The equipment has not only been installed for performances, but they also serve other purposes. Matteo wanted each element, each discipline, and each effect to be in perfect harmony with the story we tell, and my job consisted of ensuring that his vision would be fulfilled through the décor I designed. Each detail contributes to telling our story.

Claire: We relied a lot on experts. It was a real team effort! We had to address each discipline’s requirements – whether it comes to trampoline or BMX. Once experts expressed their needs, Matteo and Olivier collaborated to make sure every detail would fit perfectly.

Among the incorporated elements, you have designed your own musical instruments.

Claire: We found this idea of reimagining musical instruments in the movie itself, as everyday objects were used to produce the sounds of teapots in the iconic tea party scene. We met with an artist who creates ground-breaking instruments. When we visited his studio, we found out that he used heating oil tanks. We were impressed by the sound produced. It was exactly what we needed for our show. That being said, installing a heating oil tank on stage would not make much sense to our guests. Therefore, we decided to record the sound produced and incorporate it into the soundtrack.

When it comes to bringing new elements to life, it is essential to collaborate with trusted suppliers. 

Claire: Absolutely. We relied a lot on suppliers with whom we have had a longstanding relationship. Trust is key, especially when we work with unusual volumes like these. For example, the structure used for the décor is made up of 300 tons of steel! But the uncommon nature of this project also led us to make new relationships, especially when it came to designing the BMX ramps. As far as the decoration is concerned, we called upon the services of Spanish companies. Finally, to bring to life the Queen of Hearts’ vehicle, we collaborated with a supplier from Nice – Planète Vapeur – that demonstrates outstanding expertise.

How did you manage to make this show so immersive despite these disproportionate dimensions? 

Claire: We can host up to 2,800 guests per show – the largest capacity in the resort – so this is a bit challenging! We really wanted every guest to be fully immersed in the show regardless of where they are sitting. At the same time, the theater is so big that depending on where you are sitting, you won’t see the same things as the other guests. This is a good reason to come back and discover new things each time you watch the show! The immersive experience will begin as soon as guests arrive. As they approach the impressive stage, Wonderland will then gradually come to life in front of their eyes. Many things will happen, both on stage and in the bleachers. Guests will be brought on a spectacular journey, both visually and musically! It will be a great way for them to get in the mood before the show starts.

 Olivier: There will be so many things to see everywhere. The décor features countless details, not to mention built-in screens. There will even be trampolines at the foot of the bleachers.

 

 To top it all off, there will be a highly interactive final scene during which the audience will be able to decide the show’s ending. 

Claire: This is a first at Disneyland Paris! This idea raised a lot of questions, but we knew we could count on the audience. This approach is part of our commitment to delivering an immersive experience to our guests, as mentioned earlier.

 Olivier: We also wondered how we could collect the audience’s opinion. At some point, we even thought about designing an app. Instead of an app that would require guests to have and then take out their phones, we decided to engage them directly and pay close attention to the applause from our audience, which was measured by the stage management team.

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