Pinocchio could envy the many puppets present at Disneyland® Paris.
As well on our parades as on our shows, these little characters are animated by artists in the shadow. Discover here the portrait of two of these clever enchanters.
Arrived in Disneyland Paris in February 1994, as a performer, Tomah Gaudiano applied for an audition in March 2002 to take part in a big adventure: the opening of the attraction "Animagique", a show about the intrusion of Donald Duck in the magical world of Disney, in which appear Bunraku type puppets.
Tomah never ceased to give life to those tall and large puppets manipulated by several puppeteers. With a stick or by hand, the puppets of Animagique amazed on a colorful stage, small and tall viewers, until 2016. This show used a black light effect such that the puppeteers would not be visible to the audience.
In April 2009, Tomah is entrusted with a new mission, as a puppet master, for the launch of Playhouse Disney Live on Stage!, a new show fully dedicated to puppets.
"What I like most about my job is to be able to convey my passion. My first inspiration comes from the Muppet Show. Even if one has to follow the directives given by the Show Director, we must give life to a puppet and each one has a different way of bringing those puppets to life, and this is what interests me".
It is on this same show that Raphaël Schutz, puppeteer, takes his first steps... under the stage! When he arrived in 2002 in the Character and Parade department for a short term job, this student at the Beaux-Arts of Metz, passionated with theater and animation, did not envision following this very particular course. "It was inconceivable for me to practice this trade, it was out of reach. I took a chance during an audition in 2007 and was selected, it was unexpected! "commented Raphael.
A week training for this trade, the Gepetto School would be necessary for Raphael to learn the knowledge and art of manipulating different type of puppets. Coached by Tomah, and with the help of colleagues, he learns to perfect appropriate gestures and techniques: positioning of the puppets, lip synching (coordinated opening and closing of the mouth), focus (gaze of the puppet), manipulating the sticks, interaction with other puppeteers and audience...
"Animating a puppet is a bit like making a cartoon, it's amazing to see the motionless puppet and realize how much soul you can give it. We must keep a certain strickness in the show. I am very attached to two major values: respect the personality of the character and follow the story of the show. I have some freedom in manipulating puppets as long as I stay coherent and faithful to the character of the puppet".
Tomah also notices that with the growth of puppet shows evolving around puppets (Woody and Jessie in the Wild West, Lucky Nugget Follies with Mickey and Minnie, Goldie Diamond...), we are lucky to be able to work with different types of puppets, that don’t use the same techniques at all. Woody and Jessie in the Wild West show wire puppets, Mickey and the Magician offers some Bunraku and mechanical puppets, and Disney Junior Live on Stage! features hand puppets.
True guarant of the quality of the show, Tomah carefully follows each performance and gives his artistic feedback. His colleagues, Jérôme, Annette and Williams, take care with him, of the forty puppeteers who intervene on our parks, daily.
"I achieved a dream last October during a trip to Walt Disney World, Florida. I met again the puppet master who trained me back then, and who introduced me to a new show on Liberty Square, that featured famous puppets from the Muppet Show, The Muppets Present ... Great Moments in American History. I had the privilege to handle Miss Piggy, one of the iconic characters, backstage. It was for me an extraordinary moment, as my dream was to be a puppeteer for Jim Henson *! " shares Tomah, still moved.
"If I had to summarize my experience as a puppeteer in just a few words, I would say: originality, show, atmosphere and passion. I am aware that I have a very particular job and it’s always a pleasure to talk about it daily to my family and friends, it triggers a lot of curiosity. " concludes Raphael.
* Jim Henson is one of the most iconic puppeteers in history of modern television. Director, television and movie producer, he is the creator of the Muppet Show.