In the first collaboration between Cirque du Soleil and Disney, “Drawn to Life” at Disney Springs blends iconic Disney characters and Disney animation with the classic performance stylings of Cirque du Soleil. We talked with “Drawn to Life” Artistic Director Tim Bennett about the show.
Inside “Drawn to Life” at Disney Springs
WT: Can you tell us where the concept for “Drawn to Life” came about?
Bennett: The collaborative goal for both Cirque and Disney was to find a way to present Disney images and storytelling in a very Cirque du Soleil style. We wanted to find an artistic way to present the Disney imagery in a very imaginative, creative way and to honor the legacy and history of Disney. As part of his research, Michel Laprise, the show director, visited the Disney archives and Disney Animation studios in California. There he was inspired by the early work of the animators and came up with the idea of creating the show as a love letter to hand-drawn animation. Michel had recently become a father of two little girls, and because of that, he was very interested in telling the story of a young girl who had lost her father and whose journey was to discover herself through his legacy.
WT: How did the team marry the classic elements of Cirque du Soleil with the magic of Disney?
Bennett: We decided not to include any actual Disney characters or existing story elements but rather to use evocative Disney imagery and musical elements within the Cirque story and original music. The structure of the story is very Disney-like, but the show as a whole is completely Cirque du Soleil, with our signature jaw-dropping acrobatics and wildly imaginative costumes, make-up, and set.
WT: What are the most unique aspects of “Drawn to Life” that Cirque fans won’t see at any other show?
Bennett: “Drawn To Life” has a much clearer and more specific story than most other Cirque shows. It’s made for all ages, so it is very family-friendly. It also includes Disney animation and imagery from the vaults that are rarely seen and some original animation that has been created just for the show. The “Drawn To Life” score is original but makes use of many familiar Disney tunes. There are also some acrobatic elements that have never been seen in any Cirque shows before.
WT: How was the space redone and customized for the new show?
Bennett: The building is the same but was gutted, and an entirely new stage and set were created for “Drawn To Life,” as well as state-of-the-art technology and stage effects were installed. There are some acrobatic elements that have never been used anywhere else before.
WT: Are there specific acts that might look familiar to those familiar with Cirque du Soleil or even with the former show “La Nouba?”
Bennett: There are a couple of Easter eggs and homages within the show that honor “La Nouba,” which fans might recognize. There are also some fan-favorite acts that all Cirque fans will enjoy.
WT: Is “Drawn to Life” designed for all ages?
Bennett: Absolutely. Adults will enjoy the thrill of the amazing acrobatics, the brilliant costumes and make-up, and the familiar hand-drawn animation style, and children will love the characters and the heartwarming story.
WT: What familiar characters and faces will young fans be most excited to see?
Bennett: The Disney characters range from the original gems of Cinderella and Steamboat Willie to Baymax and Mirabel from Encanto.
WT: What do you love best about “Drawn to Life?”
Bennett: The magic of the experience for the audience members. From the moment they enter the theatre, they become part of the world of Disney animation, where they meet characters who they never could have imagined existed and are led on the heartwarming journey of self-discovery. Their journey is filled with thrills, laughs, and tears, and they leave the theatre with wide eyes and huge smiles. I love that we can bring this experience to them.