The closure of Amimagique created questions. What was coming next? Will it be as good as Animagique? How long will it be there for? Disneyland Paris very quickly announced that a new show: Mickey and the Magician would be coming in the summer.
I was very fortunate to have been invited by Disneyland Paris to the opening of that show. After having seen it three times in the course of the press weekend, I can safely say that Disneyland Paris have delivered. It is not too often that one can use the word amazing and truly mean it, but this is simply amazing and quite possibly the best show Disneyland Paris have ever produced. – And now, I warn you that there are SPOILERS ahead.
As you walk into the theatre, you’ll immediately remark how different it looks from the old Animagique set up. The stage area looks extremely different and is shrouded in a semi-transparent curtain which gives the illusion of distance and allows the show to seemingly ‘come to life’ right before your very eyes.
Mickey and the Magician begins with the Magician stepping into the workshop and walking around the set checking the various artefacts as a new and original song is sung. This gives the feeling of a warm evening but is also a perfect set up for something magical. Tinkerbell flickers across the stage illuminating items that give us a clue as to what to expect in the upcoming thirty minutes and then Mickey appears. This Mickey is the new look Mickey with all of his talking and blinking features. Mickey’s wish is to be the best magician in the world. The Magician tells Mickey that he only has until the moon disappears to do his chores and make his wish come true. And with that, the Magician casts a spell and a moon appears on stage – this moon is gradually eroded as the show goes on to simulate the passing of time.
For Mickey’s first trick, he makes the Fairy godmother appear on a chair and a very whimsical version of Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo begins. Mickey and the Fairy Godmother bounce around the stage. This perfectly sets the tone of these little scenes and provides a real bouncy, happy song for the audience to clap along to. The star of this scene though, is Cinderella herself. Given a fresh look for this show, she looks amazing as she twirls with Mickey to the song So this is love. The Fairy Godmother makes the dress appear by simply pointing her magic wand and is just one of the mesmerising illusions that this show features. As Cinderella rides off in her golden carriage a piece of the moon disappears. Mickey goes back to work.
The next scene involves Lumière singing Be our Guest, but this is not the Be Our Guest that you are familiar with, this is a mix of circus and waltz which makes a wonderful and charming scene. The performers in this scene jump around a lot and are performing circus tricks before they move on to a beautiful waltz. As whilst this scene is incredible, it is nothing compared to what comes next as Belle and the Beast emerge onto the stage and perform their ballroom dance to the song Beauty and the Beast. This section is tear-inducing; it is so beautiful and was very unexpected. To see this scene come to life in such a way in Disneyland Paris was fantastic – and long overdue, thank you to the Disneyland Paris teams who took this decision, it is great appreciated.
From one beautiful scene to another. The Lion King scene allows Mickey to discover the Circle of Life. Each scene has seemingly its own unique feature. This scene is heavy on audience interaction as the animals come walking through the audience. The highlight of this for me is a mother giraffe kissing her baby. For those wondering, this takes place near the stairs as you enter the theatre on the left hand side. Rafiki is perfectly suited to her role, she has a powerful voice that fills the theatre with confidence. This is a general theme to this show, the vocal talent is phenomenal. This scene is a difficult one to discuss, I still haven’t seen all of it. There is so much happening across the entire theatre that it requires multiple repeat viewings for it all to sink in. This scene’s highlight is the very end as Rafiki climbs Pride Rock and all the animals have appeared on the stage. The song ends as the animals of the pride lands and Mickey take a bow towards Rafiki. This scene is a visual feast for the eyes and ears.
As another slice of the moon is eroded, Mickey finds a lamp. He accidentally activates the it and the Genie appears. This is how the show stopping scene begins. What can be said about the Friend like me scene? It is, quite simply, the best scene in the show. It is this scene that will stay with you, quite possibly forever. It is ambitious and bold. After his short introduction, Genie begins his Broadway-inspired sequence that has a phenomenal tap routine as its core. It is difficult to pin point the standout feature of this sequence. Instead, permit me to say the lighting on this scene is spellbinding. The difference in colours from verse to verse, note to note really does create an atmosphere that renders this scene a visual feast. It is colourful and fun. But then the music, the music is so beautifully created to put a spin on a popular classic and allow this giant tap number to come to life. And trust me when I say, this tap routine is simply put, this best choreography to a section of music that I have ever seen. Each of the three times I saw the show, it put a shiver down my spine and a grin on my face.
I would also here like to mention the illusions – and this is something I am shying away from in this review. I want you to go and see this show not knowing what to expect from these or where to look for them – but the Genie performs a trick with a postal box. He levitates it, spins it around (and there is no visible attachment to anything) and puts it down. Upon putting it down, a dancer emerges from the box. It is a mind blowing illusion and the only one that I don’t have even the slightest idea of how the managed to achieve it. This scene is unbelievable. I cannot stress this enough. Aladdin may not be my favourite film, but it is undeniable that this song is a classic and can truly be had fun with.
The final of the big scenes is the Queen Elsa Let It Go sequence. This scene is introduced by Olaf who comes on stage and has a moving mouth piece. It also appears that Josh Gad himself did the voice over work for the show which makes specific mention to Mickey and Magic. This is the only song in which Mickey is not on stage for. Elsa is the real star here. Specifically, Elsa’s dress is the star. Elsa appears in her coronation day outfit, and as she sings Let It Go her dress magically transforms into her Queen Elsa signature dress. Whilst the illusion itself is reasonably obvious, the execution still left me spellbound. There isn’t too much to say about this scene, it is everything you expect from Let It Go but takes place on a fantastic staging with a skilled team providing the technical elements. A huge congratulations to the Elsa I saw on all showings, singing Let It Go is not easy, but she pulled it off effortlessly. This scene also has some enjoyable special effects. Perhaps the Let It Go scene is the only one that features just one character on stage, but Elsa has such a presence that it works.
As the moon vanishes from the stage, Mickey is slowly becoming a magician. The set props begin to come to life as they dart around the stage. Mickey’s sudden sadness at not mastering magic makes him sit glumly on the stage. But our friend the Magician returns and begins to show him that he is a true magician. As Mickey makes the leap from apprentice to magician all of our friends come back out on to the stage for one last big finale number. And what a finale this is, it is big one again. The song is incredibly catchy and will remain lodged in your head for days. This scene pretty much summarises the entire show for me, it is fun, it is magic and ambitious. The lights go out on the stage and the show is over. But what a show it is!
Mickey and the Magician has a lot of humour in it which came very much as a surprise to me. This is initiated almost instantly as the magician’s hat comes to life. This hat is a stroke of near-genius. It manages to say everything and nothing at all but communicating in a made up language. Mickey himself is also extremely amusing. In fact, he gets the biggest laugh of the show. Immediately following the Let It Go sequence, Mickey comes on stage and begins to sing the song, only to give up and hum the rest. The humour helps move the show along between scenes, but also gives it a wonderful personality.
Mickey and the Magician is presented in English and French simultaneously. Though in a way I have never seen done in Disneyland Paris before. Many of the songs are in both languages, and the singer simply seamlessly switches between languages. It works beautifully and is not even noticeable. A perfect compromise for Disney’s European audiences where a language barrier can be a problem.
Sound and Lighting
The show has a fantastic sound and lighting system. Whilst many of the talking points of it will undoubtedly be the show’s stars and songs, one of the stars of the show has to be everybody who worked on the sound and lighting. Lighting is paramount to the mood of the scenes, and fills the theatre. The colours in the show are very rich and tasteful and is a real Disneyland Paris success story. The sound in the theatre is also exceptional. During the Aladdin scene, the sounds are so rich and beautiful that they truly do transport you to another world.
The song selection is very strong, perhaps the only critique I’d lay on the show is that many can be heard in Disney Dreams!, although the styles presented here are very different that the show is still unique and stands side-by-side with Dreams! perfectly. And so my criticism of the show is really nullified in my mind. I’d happily watch Dreams! and this show back to back. I think Disneyland Paris manage to keep finding shows that have exceptional stage potential and present them in a way that is unique and engaging. I would doubt that there will be anybody watching this show that is bored at any moment. This show could be changed and other songs being transplanted in, but that would weaken it in my opinion.
In conclusion, Disneyland Paris has created something truly exceptional with Mickey and the Magician, the show has really stretched the boundaries of what a Disneyland Paris musical show is and could be. I have long argued that, in Paris, we have the best entertainment team of any Disney resort. Mickey and the Magician proves this statement true, it is by far the best show we’ve ever had at Disneyland Paris and quite likely the best Mickey show in any Disney park worldwide ever. Disneyland Paris has finally made it; the rest of the world will look upon this with intense jealousy. Congratulations Disneyland Paris on a real success that I hope we will be able to enjoy time and time again. I already cannot wait to see it again and would hurry back in an instant to take in this show again.