After sailing across the South Pacific ocean with a demigod and a chicken, Moana has arrived on the shores of Lantau. The sea-loving Disney heroine is the star of a new stage show at Hong Kong Disneyland, called Moana: A Homecoming Celebration. The show, which opened on Friday, sees her reunited with the film’s other main character, Maui, and picks up where the 2016 film left off.
Before the show’s first performance, Young Post sat down with Randy Wojcik, the creative director of the park’s entertainment and costume department, to learn more about the making of the show.
“This is the first Disney park to have a Moana-themed show,” Wojcik said, adding that it’s just one of the many exciting changes taking place at the park.
Making it as accurate as possible
The stage show is the first part of an expansion at Hong Kong Disneyland, which will see a new attraction added to the park each year until 2023. It will be placed in the brand-new Jungle Junction section in Adventureland.
“The stage is a nod to the architecture of Motonui, where Moana is from,” explained Wojcik. The team behind the project wanted the place where the show takes place to look as realistic as possible – everything, from the carving markings to the way the paint is put on and dried, was the result of lots of research into traditional Polynesian culture.
“It’s not just there to look pretty,” Wojcik said. The same level of thought and attention to detail went into the costumes that the cast members wear; the ones the female performers wear were inspired by rain, which is an important symbol that means new beginnings in Polynesian culture.
A wonderful message
When it came to choosing which Disney character to kick off Hong Kong Disneyland’s expansion project, Wojcik told Young Post that Moana was their first and only choice.
As well as being one of Disney’s newest and most popular characters, her message is very much one that works for young people today.
“Moana is an energetic optimist, struggling to find her true identity,” said Wojcik. He added that he thinks the show will send a “wonderful message to our younger generation”.
After restoring the heart of Te Fiti and returning to her island home of Motonui, Moana and six other cast members will retell the story of her adventures to the rest of
her village, with the help of music, props, and even members of the audience. People watching the show will become part of the sea during the storytelling, and younger viewers will have the chance to play the drums.
A year’s hard work in the making
The cast is made up of performers from all over the world, including Hong Kong. It was important to find people who could be actors, dancers, and storytellers, said Wojcik, as each cast member will need to change into different characters while still on stage, from the giant crab Tomotoa to the goddess Te Fiti.
“It’s seamless, the way the scene and set changes in the show,” said Wojcik. “The music is so good – I can’t wait for you to hear it.”
For Wojcik, the show is the result of more than a year’s worth of planning. It wasn’t all smooth sailing, but he believes that’s the sign of a job well done.
“Every project has challenges but that’s part of the process,” he said. “I’d be worried if there were no challenges.”