Interview with “Frozen, a Musical Invitation” Show Directors

The Directors Françoise Baffioni and Mattéo Borghi met with the Insidears Team to tell us more about this royal surprise:

Can you introduce Frozen: a musical invitation?

Françoise Baffioni: For this brand new interactive show, we were inspired by two highlights from the first installment of Frozen: the sequence with the Reindeer song and of course  Let It Go. In our story, Queen Elsa opens the doors of its ice palace for the first time and invites the villagers of Arendelle to come and visit it. But first, Princess Anna wants to prepare a surprise to thank her sister for her invitation, and requests the help of Kristoff, Sven as well as our visitors who will play the role of the villagers. She wants to celebrate her powers and her difference by showing her that everyone is with her. For this, she will share with all the villagers Elsa’s magic gesture so that they can take it back with her when she sings her song Let It Go in her ice palace. It’s a very strong moment, a moment of union between all the protagonists of this story!

This moment of union also continues with the new version of “Love Is An Open Door”, which concludes this show.

FB: In the film, it’s a love duet between Anna and Hans. We wanted to go further and consider it more broadly. It’s now a quartet of Elsa, Anna, Kristoff and Olaf. For us, it’s a way to broaden its scope to the greatest number.

Mattéo Borghi: The surprise organized for Elsa revolves around this idea of accepting others in their difference. “Love is an open door” says the song: that’s exactly it!

FB: It was a real desire on our part to end with a message of love in the broad sense. It’s a great way to end this adventure with a positive message.

To host this show, the Art of Disney Animation attraction has been reinvented to become Animation Celebration.

MB: Due to its original structure, with its two consecutive rooms, this place was particularly suitable for this type of experience. This allows visitors to move physically from one universe to another.

FB: It’s a very different configuration compared to the shows that we are used to seeing at Disneyland Paris. Usually, we go from one scene to another by changing the scenery on stage. Here, it’s the visitors who move from one universe to another. In addition, the size of the rooms creates a real proximity with the characters, a complicity that is much more difficult to achieve in large rooms.

Precisely, as show directors, how did you manage to bring this proximity to life?

FB: Already, our story had to immerse our guests in this adventure. Hence the idea of making them learn these magic gestures to celebrate Elsa’s powers. And this can only be done by being close to each other. The place really lent itself to this interactive side. We then put the accent on the exchange with the visitors, whether through dialogues, gestures, but also looks.

We also feel a great bond between the characters, and in particular between Kristoff and Sven.

MB: We are really happy to have Sven with us on this adventure. It’s the first time he’s appeared at Disneyland Paris. His humor and his complicity with Kristoff are very appreciated by our guests. He brings a lot of tenderness to this show.

How did you manage to express this tenderness so well?

FB: It is played above all in the dialogues. Depending on what Kristoff will say, Sven will react, and that brings a lot of charm to the show.

MB: But this relationship goes beyond words and is also expressed in a simple look, a simple attitude. We were very attentive to all these little details that speak volumes about the link that unites these two characters.

How did this writing work go?

FB: We started working on this show almost two years ago. In general, things start slowly and then speed up. Once Frozen was chosen as the theme of our show, we were given free rein to create a new story. I started to think about what I wanted to say and put it down on paper. Then, the scenario was developed by an author, Thomas Maurion.

The sets of Frozen: a musical invitation are particularly successful. Visitors are truly immersed in the film.

FB: Once the script was written, we got closer to the American artistic director Scott Shaffer, who works regularly with us. I told him our story and from there he designed the sets we have today. Walt Disney Animation Studios supported us every step of the way. We knew that we had to go as close as possible to Kristoff’s barn and the Ice Palace as they appear in the cartoon, so that our visitors who discover these decorations immediately recognize themselves in the cartoon. And once the design has been approved, their construction has been entrusted to French companies.

Françoise and Mattéo, you have very different backgrounds. How did you collaborate on this project?

MB: It’s because we come from different backgrounds that we are complementary. We see things that the other doesn’t see.

FB: Basically, I’m a dancer. After studying at the Rosella Hightower school in Cannes, I started my career in Nancy, at the Ballet de Lorraine, where I danced with big names such as Patrick Dupont, Noëlla Pontois or Rudolf Nureyev. Then I joined Disneyland Paris in 1992 as a dancer, then captain, assistant choreographer, choreographer, assistant director and today show director. I have had the pleasure of participating in many magnificent productions such as C’est Magique!, Jolly Holiday, Pocahontas – Le Spectacle or Tarzan: La Rencontre, and more recently the Christmas and Halloween parades.

MB: As far as I’m concerned, Frozen: a musical invitation is my very first creation since I became a show director at Disneyland Paris. I’ve spent most of my career in Italy. I took musical lessons at an academy near Florence while learning classical singing in parallel. Very early on, I did musical theater, classical theater and operetta before becoming interested in directing. In 2014, I directed my first musical, Ladies. After several other productions, I wanted an experience abroad. As I spoke French, I thought of France and it was there that I saw an advertisement for a position of artistic director at Disneyland Paris. I applied thinking that I would stay only three months and finally in January I was offered the position of show director, which I accepted with great pleasure. I’ve never been to Disneyland Paris before. It was a great discovery, from all points of view.

FB: Our meeting was very easy. We immediately got on well. It was a real collaboration, each bringing his vision. We have sometimes disagreed, but we have always been able to discuss, exchange, and finally find the right solution for the show.

What does Frozen: a musical invitation represent for you?

FB: First, it’s always a great moment to launch a new show. But what’s more, it’s a story that touches me deeply. During its creation, we experienced some pretty fabulous moments, especially when recording music in the studios of Abbey Road in London. When the orchestra of almost 70 musicians started to play the first notes, everyone who was there got goosebumps and tears came to our eyes. It will remain one of the most memorable memories of this adventure for me.

MB: This is the moment when we saw something materialize that we had been working on for a very long time. We collaborated very closely with Jonathan Barr, the music arranger, and hearing them for the first time was like a wave of emotion that swept us away.

Since this was my first experience as a show director at Disneyland Paris, I will also retain the pleasure of discovering all the stages of creating a show and the joy of being able to participate in it. Then there was the opening of the attraction, with the first visitors. It is for them that we do all this and see their reactions, especially the looks of the children amazed, there is no better reward!

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Actively involved in the Disneyland Paris Community since 2014, Ben is a founding member of DLPReport and focuses on our Twitter account, the Podcast in English and the group’s relationship with Disney.
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