The new collaboration from Cirque du Soleil and Disney, “Drawn to Life,” premiered Thursday night at Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort.
The show is a love letter to Disney Animation interpreted through Cirque du Soleil’s acrobatic performances, choreography, innovative design and costuming alongside all-new characters created by Disney Animation artists and an original score inspired by Disney music. It marks the first ever theatrical collaboration of three creative icons: Cirque du Soleil, Walt Disney Animation Studios and Walt Disney Imagineering.
“This show has been in the works for years and to finally share it with the world is a dream come true,” said Daniel Lamarre, president and CEO of Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group. “This collaboration has been unlike anything we’ve done before. We hope it will mean as much to our fans as it has to us—it’s not just our show now, it’s theirs too.”
“Seeing a Cirque du Soleil show at Disney Springs has long been a cherished experience for our guests,” said Jeff Vahle, president of Walt Disney World Resort. “Combining the rich legacy of Disney Animation with the incredible artistry of Cirque du Soleil, ‘Drawn to Life’ is pure magic.”
“Drawn to Life,” written and directed by Michel Laprise with Fabrice Becker as director of creation, is a live acrobatic journey telling the story of Julie, a determined girl who discovers an unexpected gift left by her Disney animator father: an unfinished animation. As she dives into the inner world of animation guided by a surprising pencil, Julie embarks on an inspiring quest filled with childhood Disney memories. Developed along with Michael Jung, executive theatrical development, Walt Disney Imagineering, the story is driven by 10 unique acrobatic acts alongside animation from beloved Disney films as well as all-new animation created by Disney Animation artists led by animation director Eric Goldberg, best known for characters such as the Genie in the animated classic, “Aladdin.”
Cirque du Soleil acrobatics and characters from classic Disney animation films blend throughout Julie’s journey. Along the way she encounters rhythmic gymnasts interpreting pages of drawings in continuous sequence, a pair of human trapeze artists moving as paintbrushes to create a kaleidoscope of colors, teeterboard artists displaying the squash and stretch principle of animation and beloved Disney Animation characters from across eras.
Years in the making, the show was researched through extensive visits Cirque du Soleil teams made to Disney theme parks, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Walt Disney Animation Research Library, Walt Disney Archives, and The Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco. As a result, the show pays homage to classic Disney Animation techniques and many trailblazing Disney Animation artists including Mary Blair, Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas.
The show is an immersive production featuring an all-original score of new music with snippets of melodies from Disney’s classic animated feature films; makeup that reflects animation principles like exaggerated lines, highlights and shadows; costumes and props that are more than meets the eye; and a set that envelops the audience in sketch pages and an animator’s drawing table.
Originally slated for a March 2020 opening, but delayed due to the pandemic.
“It means so much to finally be raising the curtain on ‘Drawn to Life’,” said Laprise. “Every step of this journey has been emotional, from researching and viewing original Disney Animation, to writing this beautiful story, to meeting our cast and becoming a family supporting each other through our unexpected ‘intermission’ together. I’m overwhelmed at the magic we have the opportunity to create for families.”
“Drawn to Life” is the 50th production created by Cirque du Soleil and its premiere coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Walt Disney World Resort. With an international cast of 62 artists, “Drawn to Life” will perform Tuesday through Saturday at Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort.
For more information, visit cirquedusoleil.com/drawntolife.