Filmed Live Musicals

Tangled with David Colston Corris

September 28, 2020 Season 1 Episode 6
Filmed Live Musicals
Tangled with David Colston Corris
Chapters
Filmed Live Musicals
Tangled with David Colston Corris
Sep 28, 2020 Season 1 Episode 6

Host Luisa Lyons chats with actor David Colston Corris, who portrayed Maximus in the recently released filmed live Disney musical Tangled. In this episode, we chat about puppeteering, working on a cruise ship, and what it took to bring Maximus the horse to life. 

Visit Filmed Live Musicals at www.filmedlivemusicals.com. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. You can also support the site at Patreon.  

Host Luisa Lyons is an Australian actor, writer, and musician. She holds a Masters in Music Theatre from London's Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and now lives, works, and plays in New York. Learn more at www.luisalyons.com, and follow Luisa on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, David Colston Corris has performed for audiences all over the world! National/International Tours: AVENUE Q (Princeton/Rod), RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER: THE MUSICAL (Coach Comet, Charlie-in-the-Box), CURIOUS GEORGE LIVE! (Freddy), and John Tartagila's IMAGINOCEAN (Dorsel). Cruise Lines: DISNEY CRUISE LINE (World Premier cast of TANGLED: THE MUSICAL (Maximus), FROZEN: A MUSICAL SPECTACULAR  (Olaf, Duke of Weselton) and NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE (Nickelodeon Host). Regional Theaters: CASA MANANA, SAN JOSE STAGE COMPANY, THE HANGAR THEATRE, GEVA THEATRE CENTER. Theme Parks: WALT DISNEY WORLD, UNIVERSAL STUDIOS ORLANDO, SESAME PLACE and STORYLAND. In addition to performing, David designs and builds puppets. He has also taught puppetry privately, regionally, and for shows and workshops at WALT DISNEY WORLD. David is an active member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. David holds a B.F.A. in Musical Theater from the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University.

Find David on Instagram and at www.davidcorris.com

Show Notes Transcript

Host Luisa Lyons chats with actor David Colston Corris, who portrayed Maximus in the recently released filmed live Disney musical Tangled. In this episode, we chat about puppeteering, working on a cruise ship, and what it took to bring Maximus the horse to life. 

Visit Filmed Live Musicals at www.filmedlivemusicals.com. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. You can also support the site at Patreon.  

Host Luisa Lyons is an Australian actor, writer, and musician. She holds a Masters in Music Theatre from London's Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and now lives, works, and plays in New York. Learn more at www.luisalyons.com, and follow Luisa on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, David Colston Corris has performed for audiences all over the world! National/International Tours: AVENUE Q (Princeton/Rod), RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER: THE MUSICAL (Coach Comet, Charlie-in-the-Box), CURIOUS GEORGE LIVE! (Freddy), and John Tartagila's IMAGINOCEAN (Dorsel). Cruise Lines: DISNEY CRUISE LINE (World Premier cast of TANGLED: THE MUSICAL (Maximus), FROZEN: A MUSICAL SPECTACULAR  (Olaf, Duke of Weselton) and NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE (Nickelodeon Host). Regional Theaters: CASA MANANA, SAN JOSE STAGE COMPANY, THE HANGAR THEATRE, GEVA THEATRE CENTER. Theme Parks: WALT DISNEY WORLD, UNIVERSAL STUDIOS ORLANDO, SESAME PLACE and STORYLAND. In addition to performing, David designs and builds puppets. He has also taught puppetry privately, regionally, and for shows and workshops at WALT DISNEY WORLD. David is an active member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. David holds a B.F.A. in Musical Theater from the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University.

Find David on Instagram and at www.davidcorris.com

Luisa Lyons:

Welcome to the Filmed Live Musicals podcast. A podcast about stage musicals that have been legally filmed and publicly distributed. The Filmed Live Musicals website contains information on nearly 200 musicals that have been captured live. Check it out at www.filmedlivemusicals.com. And now, on with the show! My guest this week is actor, singer, puppeteer, and writer, David Colston Corris. Davids extensive credits include Walt Disney World and Universal Studios Orlando, the national tours of Avenue Q, Curious George Live, and John Tartaglias Imaginocean, and sailing the seas with Disney Cruise Line playing Olaf and the

Duke of Weselton in Frozen:

A Musical Spectacular and Maximus in Tangled The Musical. Welcome David.

David Colston Corris:

Hi, thank you very much.

Luisa Lyons:

Very excited to have the person who played Maximus himself on our podcast.

David Colston Corris:

And it's a human, not a horse. I you know, I don't know. Sorry. (laughter) We couldn't get a stable.

Luisa Lyons:

It's okay. Well, that's the limitations of the podcast!

David Colston Corris:

Yeah. (laughter)

Luisa Lyons:

So what was the audition process for Tangled?

David Colston Corris:

So... I always like to joke that I just went in and made horse noises. No, it was a bit more than that. So this was back in 2014 actually, 2014. And they put out a call and Disney Cruise Line, they actually do shows in rep. So for me, that meant not just going in for the role of Maximus, but going in... I love that Disney does this thing where they, they just ask you to sing what you'd love to sing. And that's where they start with their singers. Dancers' audition might be a little different. But I'm not a dancer. So I can't speak to that. So I went in, and I sang what I love to sing. And I think at the time that probably was "Proud of your Boy" from the then cut song from Aladdin. But now I believe they put it back into the Broadway version. So I sing that because that's what I love to sing. And that's who I am. And then from there, they asked me to read for Maximus. And I believe they might have asked me to read for some other roles or sing for some other roles as well. So when it came to casting this new show, they put up, even though you're doing for this show, it was on Disney Magic, on the Disney Magic, they have three main shows. At the time, it was Twice Charmed, it's a twist on the Cinderella story. Then they have Disney Dreams: An Enchanted Classic, which they were also refreshing that year. And then Tangled was set to replace something called Villains Tonight, so we had to be able to fit something in all of those. It's a big puzzle for them, which is why they asked just sing what you love, because then they're going to be able to they're gonna see what you look like, see how tall you are, you know, where you fit, how you fit. Are you more of an actor. Are you more of a dancer because, almost, it can be very similar from cast to cast, but almost every time, especially when they're doing a new show. It's a whole new puzzle. So for Tangled, they had me read for Maximus, which, he doesn't have any lines per se, but he does have reactions. So I was working with a voiceover teacher at the time. And I had to learn how to whinnie and make horse noises. And, you know, I think they didn't really quite know exactly what they needed on the page and what it was going to look like because they didn't bring a puppet to the audition. I had worked for the company as a puppeteer. I had a pretty extensive background in puppetry, they knew it was going to be a body puppet created by Michael Curry, who did the puppets for Lion King among many other things. And but you know, they don't bring the puppet to the to the audition. So they said "Can you can you physicalize this as you might as a horse." The reader is going to read both. There was a scene between Rapunzel and Flynn. And I, I gave my reactions and, but I have a reading problem so I asked if I could you know, hash through and they're like, Yeah, I guess so. But I was like, I just needed to like, mark some spots and and put some some beats in there. But really, it really just came down to living a living and reacting. And what's interesting now is to go back and see the show or I actually performed the show a few years later. My initial reactions are now canon. They're set to the puppetry. Yeah. So so it's neat to be part of that the life that, but they came from just reacting as you're supposed to in an audition. So that's how it happened.

Luisa Lyons:

Was this your first time originating a role?

David Colston Corris:

Yeah, I think so. Um, yeah, pretty much. In the same year, I did get to puppet to some other things. But yeah, I mean, this was my first contract where I was really given that opportunity to set my own physicalities for things. Now, I didn't do it by myself. There were other puppet specialists, Disney famously, or, maybe lesser known, but they have some of the best puppeteers that exist in the world, especially for live puppetry. They understand how to break down movement, to teach people who don't necessarily have a puppetry background, and they, in fact, they usually don't have someone who can do puppetry, or who has done it before. They might just have an aptitude for it when they go in. They might have an aptitude for movement, they might excel in, in physical acting, or they might be a dancer, and it's helpful to be able to bring them in that way. But for me, I had some puppetry, so they trusted me.

Luisa Lyons:

You mentioned you had worked for Disney before. What other work had you done for them?

David Colston Corris:

So I I started puppetry back in The Voyage of Little Mermaid when I was on the Disney College Program. Back in the day. That was a blacklight puppet show. But I was bit by the puppet puppetry bug before then, I just really loved... I didn't have cable growing up. So I watched, I watched a lot of PBS and it wasn't actually Sesame Street that that really got me it was something called The Puzzle Place. It was a short lived show, but it was very, very good. And my favorite character on there, flashforward, many years, the puppeteer who was my ,who happened to be my favorite character, actually taught me when I did the tour of Avenue Q. Peter Linz. Who is who is Walter in the Muppets if you're familiar with that.

Luisa Lyons:

That must have been such a cool experience!

David Colston Corris:

Oh, the whole time. And he and he even knew that, like, I cared so much about puppetry, and like the craft, but also of that show, you know, I loved that show. That show gave me, I mean, that show was about, you know, six kids from different backgrounds, ethnicities, nationalities, religions living, coming together in like a little playhouse, and learning about culture. So that probably shaped a lot of who I am, and why I care about that. So much. But also just the puppetry. Puppetry is tangible. You know, for me, I I grew up right before the big switch to CGI. So it actually I wanted to be an animator before then. But when things started switching to CGI, I didn't really like it. I liked the tangible and I liked that you could see the pencil strokes on the page. And now you couldn't. And you knew that someone had put that in there. So I didn't quite come around to the the artistry of CGI until much later. Until the technology and everything caught up with the ability of the artists.

Luisa Lyons:

So you grew up watching like Dark Crystal and Labyrinth where you can, you know that they're puppets but they're so real to us. And there you see the craft.

David Colston Corris:

Yeah, yeah. And that's the thing. I think the biggest difference between puppetry and animation is that you can actually see the breath. When a puppet is performed well, there is breath. And it's because it's connected to the performer. And a good puppeteer understands that that is the first thing you have to do. Because the first thing that we did this morning, was we took a breath before we opened our eyes, you know, that's what we do. And behind every movement there is breath behind every emotion there is breath behind everything. There is breath, which is I think one of the main things you could tell like the difference between bad puppetry and good puppetry. You know, like, I'm seeing a lot more of it on TikTok now, and I love to see more puppetry and more puppets out there, but I just I want to, like reach through the screen and be like, or like whisper to them, don't forget to breathe.

Luisa Lyons:

Set up a TikTok puppetry consulting service!

David Colston Corris:

I've thought about how I might be able to do that.

Luisa Lyons:

There you go!

David Colston Corris:

I've thought about doing that. You had asked asked about, you know, some of the things that I had done, how I got into puppetry. Well, I ended up you know, so it's Voyage of Little Mermaid. Then it was, then I went away and did some smaller theme parks with one of my best friends that I grew up with, who happened to also get into puppetry, when we lived separate lives. Now we live half a mile away from each other in in Dallas, Texas. And yesterday we we were filming something with puppets or actually with plush, stuffed animals for a company. But because we're puppeteers, we were able to do it masked, we were masked, though we've pretty much quarantined together so that we could do stuff like this.

Luisa Lyons:

Wow.

David Colston Corris:

But yeah. Then I ended up, you know, he and I worked at a lot of parks together. We both got into puppetry, we started building puppets. Then I ended up in the tour of Avenue Q. And then in the tour of Imaginocean. from there, which was a really cool blacklight puppet show by John Tartaglia that is now that was the precursor to Splashing Bubbles on PBS. They were shopping that, they were, Henson even came to see some of our shows when we were in Costa Mesa, California, just because they needed to talk to to Johnny. Then from there, I I wanted to go and perform at Finding Nemo down at Disney. But I went down to audition and some of the puppet specialists there, and some of the guys that I learned from were like, "We need puppet specialists Do you want to be you want to teach puppetry here? Would you be interested because we're going to have an audition and interview process." So I ended up going through that, moving down there, teaching puppetry, getting to teach for Finding Nemo, which was awesome. Which also really got me familiar with Michael Curry's designs, because he built that whole show. And that's just gorgeous. I love that show. So yeah, a lot a lot of puppetry. Before, eventually, you know, and I loved teaching it, I love being like the building blocks of you know, helping someone else to get this new skill in their hands. Because, you know, it's so cool to get to see that, you know, that little moment that they get it and that starts to click, but I missed performing. So Disney Cruise Line offered me that opportunity to be able to do the other things that I do get to use puppetry, but also get to be a character actor. Like because I'm a silly voice kind of guy. I forgot how to sing in my own voice for almost a decade. But then just found it last contract as I was, you know, aged into being able to sing more Disney Prince type stuff, or sing from a bell tower. You know.

Luisa Lyons:

Dream role right there.

David Colston Corris:

Yeah. So that was that was really cool.

Luisa Lyons:

So what was the process for bringing Maximus to life? How did you breathe him into life?

David Colston Corris:

Well, we had some wonderful puppet specialists there, like I said, so I had eyes on the outside who had years of puppetry. One of the guys who was in charge of a lot of the build at Michael Curry was also coming back and forth. Because they were kind of adapting the horse to fit my body. I'm 5'7, like a true 5'7, not like a 5'5 guy who says he's 5'7. I'm 5'7, like even and I'm proud of it.

Luisa Lyons:

Alright, rub it in. (laughter)

David Colston Corris:

That was a little shorter than what they had expected. They expected 5'9 or taller -

Luisa Lyons:

Oh, wow.

David Colston Corris:

- for Maximus, which is, is quite a difference with that horse because I've taught some guys after who has it been 5'9 and the back feet don't touch the ground because it was built for my body. So we've had to adjust some things to get Maximus to walk properly.

Luisa Lyons:

And I bet those 5'9 guys have thighs of steel to make an adjustment.

David Colston Corris:

Right? Theyhave to widen the stance a little bit. So actually, it was a lot of that. It was how do I walk in this? How do I move in this and for me, I looked at a lot of animation videos because animation and puppetry they they pull from the exact same techniques exactly. Animators are puppeteers whether they realize it or not and puppeteers are live animators, essentially because they understand what it looks like to walk how do you break that down. I mean, we just walk as an actor, we just walk and you know as a physical actor, you might find another center, you know center of movement, you know where that movement comes from. But most actors aren't. They're just like, I'll do a silly walk, you know? I'll just, I'll maybe shorten my gait. But you know, really breaking it down you know physical, good physical actors can be good puppeteers, because they are used to breaking it down even further than, you know, someone who's, who doesn't actually have to do more.

Luisa Lyons:

Yeah, because it becomes about like... I guess in a traditional like hand puppet, it becomes about what your pinky is doing as much as what your thumb is doing and how your wrist moves and where your elbow goes. Like, it gets down to that minutia.

David Colston Corris:

Well, and actually, I think that's a good point because you know, for this puppet, so there's a really cool video that during during the rehearsal process, Oh My Disney came in and they did an interview and you can find it if you just type in like "Maximus puppet Tangled the Musical, David," you know, you'll find it. It's probably like the first one on Oh My Disney. But they show a really cool behind the scenes. And I know Disney doesn't always do that. But now I'm hoping that with the Imagineering story, they'll actually realize that it doesn't hurt the magic to show this. It enhances it. Because these are artists who are doing a lot. Maximus is a lot, you wear Maximus, like a backpack, the back of him, it's about six feet behind you, your left, your left leg is connected to the back, right, your, your right leg is connected to the back left over your shoulder, there's a little tail pole, then you have two different sets of bungees that you can clip the the head on to but you're really holding it, the bungees are in place to kind of help support it. So then you're able to control the mouth, you're able to control the ears, and you're able to control the brows the eyebrows. And a different hand does does different things. But also, you know, your right hand is is supporting what the head can actually do while your left hand is supporting the the neck really. So everything is working at the exact same time. And it's a whole vocabulary of movement that we're just not used to doing. So even with puppetry experience - Every single time, even when the most experienced puppeteer gets into a new puppet. It's relearning how, you know, the basic principles of movement are the same. But yeah, after studying animation and looking at how they drew, how they broke down, the horses walk, or gallop, what foot is moving when and how low the head is, where the focus is, you know, and when the ears are forward when they're back when they're, you know. But then also Maximus was animated to be very doglike. So you had to bring in some of those elements. And they're obviously able to do a little bit more in animation than you can one person with a puppet with the physical limitations of but they did such a good job with that build. So I did that in 2015. But I went back and did it again a few years later. And I still to the very last performance was learning things that I could do with the puppet. And if I went back for another five years, I'd be able to learn something new. Nearly every performance, which I love.

Luisa Lyons:

Yeah. Wow. Oh, the intricacy of it. And then I'm thinking, like I'm picturing, you know, you're learning how to maneuver this puppet. And now you have to dance and do it in time and navigate a stage and be on a moving ship. But we'll come back to that. Were you rehearsing in New York City?

David Colston Corris:

No. So we auditioned, I auditioned in New York City, but their auditions were were around the world. We rehearsed in Toronto, Disney Cruise Line has a Toronto rehearsal facility, since they have performers coming from all over the world really. Often, the bulk of them are US, Canadian, UK and Australia. But you might get some others from other places sometimes, but that's mainly where they they audition anyway. And yeah, so we rehearsed, there was a little bit longer rehearsal process. Just because we were opening the new show, and we had a few more shows to learn. And then you get on the ship. And then for this show, we weren't opening this one until the end of our contract, which was crazy. So we we rehearsed like the bulk of the beginning in February, when they were still changing music, they were still changing, you know, trying to find, you know, find the dance stuff, shape the show, cut parts of it, rewriting lines. Glenn Slater was there re-writing lines, Alan Menkin came, like once, once or twice. And, you know, we had all of the Disney corporate executives there. You know, the CEOs and everybody, from everyone from the cruise line, everyone from the company coming to see, you know, different versions of it. That was, that was a lot in February. But then we had other shows to learn. So we had to shelve that for you know, some time, when we got on the ship, then we were rehearsing with zero elements throughout the contract. Our our ship was over in Europe and we weren't opening that one until October, November. So we had to keep coming back to it in various stages, as we got different elements, I ended up rehearsing without a horse, for most of the time, we were out at sea. But even then, once I did get the horse, there were so many other elements that had to be plugged in. And so little space when you're out at sea, that I couldn't walk around with the horse. So getting my performance down, really, I felt like I opened and closed that show without really having, like, learned what I could learn. I'm like, just because they need the stage for lighting, and a horse can't walk around in six feet, the horses six and a half feet long, so!

Luisa Lyons:

Wow. So how how do you prepare your body for that, because is the horse quite heavy?

David Colston Corris:

You know, it's actually lighter than it looks. That being said, it's all about weight distribution. The backpack, you would think is heavier, but they've really found good ways to distribute that weight in such a good way that is healthy. That being said, you know, when it when it clips on to the front of the horse we learned a lot about what kind of bungee you needed, how long the bungee needed to be, for which which action because sometimes he has to sniff on the ground. And when he's sniffing on the ground, it needs to be longer bungee. But the longer the bungee is, the more you have the muscle from your, for me, the left arm has to engage. So really it can be a little difficult, you have to know which one to switch between for certain actions. I learned which muscles to work out before going into my second contract, you know, I knew that I would have to even it out on either side of the body. I knew which warm ups I had to do that were different than everyone else in the show because they're not wearing a horse off and on for, you know, an hour, or for two shows, when they do it. But no, it wasn't too heavy. It's just about the weight distribution. And, actually, at the same time they were starting to design Sven, you know, before. Sven for the Hyperion version, the Disneyland version of Frozen. Which then translated very much in the same design to Disney Cruise Line version that I ended up doing. But I never ended up doing Sven.

Luisa Lyons:

How funny.

David Colston Corris:

Yeah, so they use a lot of the same stuff but then realized, you know, we don't because Sven's got these big antlers, it's going to be even heavier. So they built it in such a way that it balances so well. The only thing though, I will say is that while it's still extremely expressive, and you can get a really great performance out of it, what I missed was all of the free range of movement that I had with the horse head which really became a lot of my vocabulary. Especially the second time going back and I learnt how much a horse expresses themselves with their neck, because it's so close to their heart. And where the movement comes from - like it starts from their heart and moves up through, or I guess I say heart because... I never got to do War Horse but I think maybe, maybe I'm wrong, but I think they called the the performer on the front legs, the heart, because I think that was where that was. So I guess I always thought of it that way. Maybe I was wrong. I don't know.

Luisa Lyons:

Oh that's really beautiful.

David Colston Corris:

But I thought it was a nice symmetry. Yeah, that's where you know, and for me, actually. Fun fact. Even though you didn't ask (laughter). I've always said if I get a tattoo, I want a really cool stylized anatomical heart and lungs on my right forearm in the direction that if I put a puppet on, it's the heart and the lungs, the puppet. I know that sounds really geeky, but...

Luisa Lyons:

I'm actually gonna cry. That's beautiful.

David Colston Corris:

It's just a reminder to connect with, when you're taking the breath as the puppet you're taking, you know, when you're taking a breath as the performer, it's, you know, it's all connected. You know, even when I teach puppetry, the singers, will know this, like, when you take that breath and and you feel the cool air on your soft palate, I teach them to think of, like, if you're doing a hand puppet, think of your palm as the soft palate. So you take in that breath, and it goes through, but it doesn't stop in your hand. It goes all the way to your lungs, you know, and all the way to your feet. So that to me was always a cool feeling doing the the full body puppetry, because I do use my whole body no matter what puppet I'm in. I'm using my feet, I'm feeling the ground and feeling my my lungs, I'm connecting. I'm often doing the face. Because my training, a lot of it did come from Avenue Q where you are in tandem with a puppet. Now of course, you do that but do it very subtly, you know, you have to tone it down when you're doing Avenue Q but but yes, it's still connected. And you are as much the performance as the puppet is.

Luisa Lyons:

Ah, that really got me by the throat, that is so beautiful. That idea of it comes back to the idea of like animation and breathing life into things. Oh, just beautiful. So you've rehearsed on land, you did another contract, well you did the same contract but different shows in between, and then you finally get to perform Tangled. What is it like performing on a cruise ship?

David Colston Corris:

I guess I love it. I so I did tours before I did ships. And what I always love is I think there's something beautiful about performing the same show for different audiences, you know, especially from around the world, and it's just weird that the world comes to you when you're on a ship. You know, whereas like before my way into that was I was on tour, so I was going to their world, and you'd see how a show plays differently in a different city. On a ship, I felt, you know, the show played similarly, I guess, in certain places, because you often had kind of the same audience, unless you were like, in the, in the Mediterranean, like, if you were in the Med or the Baltic, it was slightly different because you were getting a concentration of people from a different cluster of countries, you know, so, so the same joke might not land, but they still have that same... I mean, Disney does a universal story. You know, everything they do, the reason for their success is because the themes are universal. So you know, you're connecting. So in that respect, it's very similar, I guess. But the physical parameters, so the physical differences, I guess, on a cruise ship. You're battling the rocking ocean, sometimes it's very different. Sometimes you have to cut elements of the show for safety.

Luisa Lyons:

Oh wow!

David Colston Corris:

Oh, yes. If there's something that would be swinging from the fly, you might cut that just so that it doesn't swing and, or like cause a show stop. Disney has such a state of the art theater, even on their older ships, they've got these great lifts that they incorporate into every show and possible. But you know, if you're hitting rough seas, you might not be able to use the lift. So there's a contingency for that, and it should never hurt the show. But you're always like, Oh, is it the night? Is it the night that I'm gonna have to completely run up the other way and hope that I make the cue on time, you know, or, just the confines of a backstage. When you have crew members, you know, just the way a ship is, at least the old the old ships that I was on, you might have crew members trying to walk through the backstage area just because of the way the ship is designed. And you're like, I mean, they did get better with like trying to block it off. But people you know, people like I have to go to the gym. So they and walk through and you're like, No, no, no, no, no, we're in the show. We're half naked back here!

Luisa Lyons:

And I have a six foot horse behind me! (laughter)

David Colston Corris:

I have horse. Please don't touch the horse. (laughter). And it's also kind of cute because they walk through and they're so confused because they've never seen this in process before. They work on the same ship but they've never seen this aspect of it. I don't know, I mean, it never really bugged me. I thought it was kind of cool for them to get to see even though they weren't supposed to see it. But they're part of the magic too. It's okay. But yeah, you're doing all of this on Tangled. Oh my gosh, the whole ensemble is just running back and forth changing characters doing, you know, going into there, they're a thug, then they're a guard, than they're a townsperson, than they're, you know, something else. The amount of costume changes and facial hair changes. It's crazy. It's awesome. But it is so choreographed backstage. That if you're in the wrong place, you could down part of the show. Because someone's not gonna make their make their entrance if if you're in their way.

Luisa Lyons:

Yeah. Remind me which cruise ship you were on?

David Colston Corris:

So I was on the Magic. And then I was on the Wonder. The Magic is the one with Tangled. And the Wonder is the one with Frozen. They both have Disney Dreams, which they're two different versions of Disney Dreams butit's very similar show. And then they both have another show that they do.

Luisa Lyons:

And the Magic was the first of the Disney Cruise ships.

David Colston Corris:

Yep. Yeah.

Luisa Lyons:

With it's the funnels are painted, there's something on the funnels that special?

David Colston Corris:

The whole design? So they actually put in a whole request for cool designs. How are we going to identify our ships, but they settled upon really classic look, but they got special approval to paint it the colors that they did, because at the time lifeboats were orange, they had to be bright orange, but they got special approval like maritime law, whatever, that allowed them to paint the the lifeboats kind of the color of Mickey's shoes. They went with the red of Mickey, they went as close to black as they could because you know, Mickey's kind of that this black and red and gold and white. And so the paint that looks black from a distance is actually a really, really dark shade of blue. Because you know, for safety, you don't want it to be black on water. But it actually, I think that even kind of made it more more nautical. You know, just this really rich deep nautical blue. But yeah, the stacks they're made to look like the more classic ship. But you know, one of them works. One of them is actually, there's stuff inside, like the Kids Club is inside of one, you know?

Luisa Lyons:

Oh, cool.

David Colston Corris:

Yeah.

Luisa Lyons:

And they play When you Wish Upon a Star, right? Instead of a normal horn?

David Colston Corris:

Yeah, each ship is different. They have different.

Luisa Lyons:

Awww.

David Colston Corris:

Yeah. Is it each ship? Or all the classic ships do. Yeah, that [sings When You Wish Upon a Star] on the Magic and the Wonder, I think. But the new ships have a digital horn that can play more stuff. So they can play like Star Wars. It's pretty cool, I think.

Luisa Lyons:

I like the old school.

David Colston Corris:

It's cool. It is neat. When you're at a port with some other ships and they're all doing their horns. They'll do like a kind of a hello. And then they'll do the Mickey horn. And all of the people on their cruise ship like cheer.

Luisa Lyons:

I've been reading that the Magic is currently in England, because of COVID. And I think it's in Portsmouth and its become a tourist attraction. Obviously, no one's allowed on it. But it's this just this giant ship in the dock that can't go anywhere right now. Yeah, people are flocking to see it.

David Colston Corris:

It's cool to see I mean, so when I when this when this happened, when this all started, I was on the Wonder. And we we stopped in San Diego. And we weren't sure when we were going to start again. My contract officially ended a month later. But they weren't sure if they were going to be able to get any cruises going. It just kept getting pushed back, kind of what's happening in the world. We don't know. And it changed like every hour on the ship. You know, like it did really. I mean, it was changing every hour on land too. But you know you're on a ship and you can't get off. For safety. You have your stuff you have food you have you have your lodging, you're safe. But we were docked in San Diego, just looking at the gorgeous, I'd always wanted to go to San Diego. It's one of the only cities I haven't toured to. But, uh, I was so excited to finally get to explore San Diego. But uh, but I got to look at it a lot.

Luisa Lyons:

You appreciate the harbor! (laughter)

David Colston Corris:

Yeah, but people would come by, and they would check out the ship, and you'd wave to them, and they'd wave up at you. And I even started making signs because we had some people who were on there for quite a long time. In fact, one of our photographers couldn't go home until I think it was like, two weeks ago, um, just depending on which which country they were trying to get to.

Luisa Lyons:

Wow.

David Colston Corris:

Yeah, it was, you know, because you have when you're working on a ship, you have people- Actually, it's one of my favorite things about working on the ship is that you have people from all over the world, and you're all working together. And borders don't exist. And you can celebrate each other's culture, and you get to see, like, oh yeah, we really are, you know, what do we want, we want to put out a great product, we want to do our jobs, we want to be artists, or we want to be you know, or we want to help people, we want to make people happy. But we also want our friendships, are from all around the world, we want to connect with people, we want to go and have a drink under the stars at the front of the ship, after work and just enjoy the company of each other. You know, at sea, where, when you get out there and you realize, yeah, these borders are lines drawn on a map for the sake of power. It's silly, you know, you get out there with everybody, and you're like, this is so much cooler. Why can't it always be like this?

Luisa Lyons:

Why can't we always be on the Magic?

David Colston Corris:

Yeah, being in isolation for six months. I don't mean to take it away from theater. But I think that's actually one of the reasons I do theater is because you get to share these experiences, across cultures. And you you recognize what is universal, but you also recognize the differences we should celebrate. And we can learn from, and it's, I don't know, I think theater, theater goers and theatre artists kind of have a little bit of the secret of life figured out. That we we know how important that is, and how it changes the world in the best ways. That, it's hard now during this time.

Luisa Lyons:

Yeah, six months in and you know it's not looking great for our industry right now. Which is, it's very heartbreaking. And I know this is not the same at all, but you have the video of Tangled, which Disney Cruise Line very kindly released online for free, which I was blown away by. And so I know it's not the same at all as being there, but we can kind of relive the magic.

David Colston Corris:

For sure. Yeah, for a while I was not watching, I couldn't bring myself to watch things that were like the live theater. Or it was hard because it just was this constant reminder that I couldn't do what I wanted to do that and then I don't know how long it's going to be before I can. You know, I've dedicated my entire life to that, my friends have dedicated their entire, lives to and it just hurt. It hurt to watch it. I still haven't watched Hamilton even though that's a that's a really great version of of live theater captured for the enjoyment in your in your own home. I am glad to see that they put that out there. And even though it was filmed some years ago, how how excited people were to dig into it because they hadn't they didn't know about it. So they released it. And I was just so excited to see the -Well. To overuse the word excited, how excited people got for it Tangled, yeah, Tangled. Just because it

Luisa Lyons:

For Hamilton or for Tangled? was it was theater. It wasn't the movie Tangled, they can Yeah, it's something you know, I really watch that whenever they want. But this was this was theater. There were original songs written for it. These were, you know, all these artists coming together to put on a show. You know, does it compare to seeing it live? I don't think so. Not necessarily. But is it a grea gateway? I think so. I thin it's a wonderful gateway to ot only Disney Theatrical, ut to all theater and all musi als that that could be, you know when we can go back and see live theater. Gosh, I wonder how many how many families are excited to go and check out a how live? Who had never seen o e before? believe that filmed theater is not a replacement for live theater, but, like you say, it's a perfect gateway. It provides access in a way, like not everyone can go on a cruise ship. And now we get to enjoy Tangled. When was it filmed?

David Colston Corris:

This was filmed at the end of 2015. So right before and during our opening for it actually. Fun fact, you can catch if you look close enough, I am wearing a wig at some points and I am not wearing a wig at others. It's hard to see because I I'm often behind the horse. With the gorgeous costume and prop and puppet design, they did keep the the performer visible. And so there's a version that they had, where they filmed before they decided that they wanted to put me in a wig. I prefer that honestly. But they thought it might be needed to try and continue the look of the mane to come down to right where my head was, which I get I understand. But I I kind of think I always felt like I was in Beauty and the Beast where they tied bows and the Beast's hair and his beard and he gives that look to the camera and that's how I felt because I was like Maximus is not silly. He makes you laugh but he's not silly. He's a general, like that he thinks of himself as a soldier. He does warm, you know, but he's a soldier. So I just I felt a little silly in the wig, because I think it kind of softened the performer. I would have preferred, I liked that classic like that. The only the only photo that I use is of that. But yeah, so they filmed it over the course of probably a few different performances so that they could get different angles. And really kind of understand the show the way that it was it was crafted so that they could get a little bit better.

Luisa Lyons:

Do you remember the camera setup?

David Colston Corris:

Um, not completely. I do remember, and maybe I'm remembering it wrong. But I think they would have had one or two set up in the back by the booth. Maybe one set up mid house. And then someone who travelled at the at the bottom over the course of a few performances. So probably the same couple, a couple of people doing the film filming. But as they got to know our little bits, because if you look at something like when she returns, you're going to see all the different angles. And you're going to see all of this different, all these different business that each of the performers has crafted into their character. We worked for weeks on that number. And I think it's my favorite that was written for the show. Great music but the dancing is incredible. Connor Gallagher was our choreographer and he did he did Beetlejuice, he did, he did some others, you know, very recently on Broadway. Just an incredible, not only a choreographer, but he's also done some directing for for Disney Cruise Line. And just a great great artist. And it comes through because he also allowed people to find their characters within and really every aspect and where you look onstage that's something you'll miss watching it unless you're you're watching it live. There's so much that they peppered in to all these different kinds of characters.

Luisa Lyons:

And now we have the joy of being able to rewatch it and focus on something different every time we watch it.

David Colston Corris:

Yeah!

Luisa Lyons:

I read that it was distributed, the film was distributed on Stateroom TV on the ship. Can you tell us what Stateroom TV is?

David Colston Corris:

Sure. So when you go on a cruise, when you're on the ship, you have your dinner time is opposite your showtime, right? But sometimes people are like you know, I've been out in a port all day or I've been on the ship, gone in the pool, I'm so tired. I'd love to see the show but I don't really want to go. So they have a version in their in their cabin on TV that plays during the showtime, so that they can watch. Now it's not a live feed. It's one that they've they've probably taken from the original cast of that show. So for us, that was this. You know if you go on to to the Magic, you'll be able to see that show. Now it's not that you'll get to see the shows from the other ships, but you'll get to see the shows that are on your ship if you've chosen to watch it during that time from the comfort of your own cabin bed, rockin in the ocean, you know,

Luisa Lyons:

It's a particularly rocky day (laughter).

David Colston Corris:

Yeah, well, and that's true, you know, sometimes it is a little too rocky. And people are like, you know, I can't sit during this, but I really do want to see the show. It's one of the reasons that people come on. It's one of the reasons people return to the same ship over and over, because they love to see the shows. And it's neat, because like, I've worked on the Magic on two different contracts. I've worked on the Wonder and I've sailed with guests who have been on multiple times throughout the cruises that I've been on. So they know me, I know them, you know. Just just from seeing me in the show, you know, they were like, did you used to? When I was on the Wonde,r that was interesting, because they're like, were you with, did I see you with a horse last? Yeah, you did? You did.

Luisa Lyons:

That's so nice to have. You don't have to be at a home theater on land to get that following or to get people that start to recognize you and build a rapport with.

David Colston Corris:

Yeah, yeah. And it really does, it brings them back. And I know, it's something that Disney has kind of gone back and forth with because when we did Tangled, it was really a push to, to make it feel more like Broadway, like the Broadway caliber - they love the term Broadway caliber on Disney Cruise Line - but it really was a push to really boost up their book shows and see how much of the story and how much of the costumes and music and awesome elements that you can't see in the movie that close, how much they could get it live for you. Right there. And they even had a program back then. Or they were highlighting us and that would like you can find me, the reason I can speak so freely about it. Compared to maybe some other things that I've done with the company is that it exists, my name is attached to this show in a you know, in a public way. Whereas nowadays, they don't have they don't have a program for it. They do like the anonymity of it to some degree.

Luisa Lyons:

It sounds like you've watched Tangled since it's been released. What's it like to rewatch something like that?

David Colston Corris:

I mean, for me, as a perfectionist I just look at I'm like, Oh, these early puppetry things for me, oh, this is not what I was capable of. I wish I could have seen this at the time. I wish it could have adjusted this. You know, especially having gone back and done another contract. It was like, I can tell how much I didn't get the time I wanted in in the puppet. Um, it's just, it's so apparent to me that I'm like, that's not what I was doing. Like, that's not as good as I was able to, to get that horse to move on. So it can be really hard to watch myself in that. But it's really nostalgic to watch everybody else. You know, I remember there were other parts of the show that I was supposed to do but because of a quick costume change, they decided Oh, you know what, we designed this costume for you. You learn this this song but when it comes down to it, we got to put someone else in it. Because you're not gonna make the costume change. So

Luisa Lyons:

You've gotta get back in a six foot horse! You do you know! So unfortunately, I didn't get to be the thug. Who, Fang, fun fact, it was Fang. I was supposed to be Fang and it's Fang does little puppet shows which was like our inside joke. Oh perfect.

David Colston Corris:

And also like when I when I saw that costume design first on the on the wall, I was like did Paloma - Paloma was the costume designer who's wonderful, Broadway credits, - I was like did she see my headshot? Because like back then it probably was my more emo looking headshot and like this character is so emo compared to the other thugs and I'm like, did she really like take that hair and just like Pete Wentz the hair? Because that's what it looks like.

Luisa Lyons:

And this is our emo thug, who also puppeteers.

David Colston Corris:

Right? But you know, so it is weird to watch because I remember every version of every harmony I ever learned for that show. And when I ended up, after we opened it turns out Maximus doesn't really have much time to sing. So I still was singing in my head or backstage just to myself. Just because the music's so gorgeous. And the harmonies are wonderful. But you know it's weird because I remember those times in rehearsal where we changed this or we tried this or Maximus was supposed to have a whole tap thing at the end after the - I think they wanted, there was this fun idea to maybe do a tap number after the bows led by Maximus, but I don't tap. Also I'm in a horse that doesn't really move too well. They tried so hard to get me to tap, but they ended up cutting it early on, because probably they just didn't have time people have to get to dinner, they have to switch the show over, you only have so much time to switch. The hardest show, that is one of the hardest shows for them to reset, and then and load in and load out. That is one of the hard things about working on a ship. And I don't experience it. But you know, my friends on the tech crew do every single night.

Luisa Lyons:

And the whole ship becomes themed for Tangled, doesn't it? Or they just have their restaurants in Tangled theme.

David Colston Corris:

Yeah, so there's like an Irish Pub. And that becomes the Snuggly Duckling and they do like an enhancement where the Stabbington Brothers come in after the show that night. And they do the story. It's kind of kind of fun, kind of silly, but they do games. Crew staff. They're dressed as thugs in some some venues. But it's as fun. I love that part of it, you know, because that makes it more immersive. You know, it makes it more of an experience rather than just okay, now it's show time. Okay, now it's dinner time. Okay, now I'm gonna go to the pool. You know, like I'm in Corona!

Luisa Lyons:

It's Tangled Day!

David Colston Corris:

Who's gonna walk by? Yeah!

Luisa Lyons:

Oh, how wonderful to have been a part of all of that magic and how special that that performance is recorded for us. It's a shame that we don't get to experience the other aspects on the ship. I think that would be really fun. It'd be really cool DVD extras, you know, behind the scenes showing that footage of how Maximus came to life, and then how the ship, how the Irish themed pub becomes the Snuggly Duckling. Like it would be really fun for audiences at home. I think that would sell tickets on Disney Cruise Lines. To be able to see that magic.

David Colston Corris:

I guess, you know, to some degree, there's some things that they - I guess, what's wonderful is that, I think most true Disney fans know, even you know, whether they've been to the parks or not, they know that they can see something different at each park, they know that they can see something different when they turn on Disney Plus, or when they go on the ship or when they go on Adventures by Disney, which is just an adventure themed experience, like real life traveling, but led by Disney tour guides. So you have that customer service experience that you you get at Disney, you have that extra knowledge, you have that, just that extra magic along the way. They know what they're doing. But yeah, I agree. I'm all for show as much as you can. So that the people who can't get a little bit of it, you know, because I don't like that exclusivity of theater sometimes, you know, like the the the ridiculous ticket prices for some of the shows on Broadway that now we can't. People who can really, whose lives can be changed as opposed to someone who's just going because, well, I'm supposed to see this show because that's the hot new show. You know, like it's they're not really getting anything out of it, but could change the life of someone who, who doesn't normally get to see theater because they don't have the money for a ticket. You know?

Luisa Lyons:

So I have a series of quick questions for you. Okay, don't think about it. Whatever comes to mind is good. And there are no wrong answers. So there's no no deliberating in between.

David Colston Corris:

Okay, so just just keep it simple, which is hard for someone like me who talks a lot.

Luisa Lyons:

That's totally fine. Just putting a caveat at the beginning. Do you have a favorite musical?

David Colston Corris:

Probably Little Shop of Horrors.

Luisa Lyons:

Ah. And it was just, we're recording this on the 24th, but it was just September 21st a few days ago.

David Colston Corris:

That's right. That's why I was seeing a lot of Little Shop posts. Since I've lost dates and time and yeah, I've been home for six months.

Luisa Lyons:

Do you have a favorite filmed live musical?

David Colston Corris:

Tangled the musical... (laughter) No...

Luisa Lyons:

Excellent.

David Colston Corris:

Yeah, everyone see it!

Luisa Lyons:

When we film live theater, it's not exactly theatre and it's not exactly a film. So what should we call it?

David Colston Corris:

Oh, goodness, I think it's, I would say it's something like I guess a digitally immersive theatrical experience. And something like that.

Luisa Lyons:

I want to steal that! Where do you stand on bootlegs?

David Colston Corris:

Hoo! I'm trying to keep this short, artists should be paid for what they have done. That being said, they can be a powerful gateway for people who do not have the means to see, which will have a long term positive effect on our community. So it's gray, it's very gray. I want people to get paid for what they've done. But I also want our theater community to grow and change lives. And I'm hopeful that we'll see more positive from people having bootlegs then the negative.

Luisa Lyons:

Mm hmm. What do you wish had been filmed?

David Colston Corris:

I don't know. You can see a lot of stuff at the Lincoln Center Library. So I probably would say something and someone would be like, no, no, you could go and see that at the Lincoln Center Library.

Luisa Lyons:

But at the moment we can't go to the library. And for people who don't live in New York City, and who don't have a "valid reason" in inverted commas. Because you're supposed to, it's for research purposes. So if you're just, you know, someone that just wants to see it, because I want to see it, that's not a valid reason. And you can only watch it once,

David Colston Corris:

That's true. The only times that I've there are very strict rule around it and for good reason. And I love the archive at the ew York Public Library, it's an mazing resource, but for the veryday person, they don't hav used it have been for a show that I was about to do. Because I had to design Hand to God, and I was gonna be in Hand to God. And I got to see it. And I was wonderful. I don't know if I have a true answer for that one.

Luisa Lyons:

That's okay. Well, let's get to what would you like to see filmed in the future?

David Colston Corris:

I'd like to see filmed - I would love to see more immersive experiences utilize the technology that we have. You know, I think I think there are people out there doing doing some cool things with like 3D, or what's the virtual-

Luisa Lyons:

Virtual reality?

David Colston Corris:

That's the word I'm looking for! I wanted to say augmented reality, but that's another thing that I think is really cool. Yeah, to enhance. Even just traveling with through, like augmented reality. So you know, you can shine, you know, open up your phone, and you're at a national park and something pops up and there's more like, that comes alive, right there. History comes live.

Luisa Lyons:

You know, if you have a spare, I think it's 45 minutes long. Episode Three, I would say, of the Filmed Live Musicals podcast is with Lena Wolfe, who is a dancer and an engineer. And her thesis was on virtual reality and dance. And so we had a whole chat about virtual and augmented reality and it was fascinating. What the possibilities are like right now and what we could have in the future. It's so exciting.

David Colston Corris:

Yeah, I think it's our responsibility. You know, they're all different areas of you know, I don't think everyone needs to get on this, but I think those who are interested in those I think it's all of our responsibility, responsibility to grow our community. But I think that's a great way because you will connect with younger audiences, you know. I don't subscribe to the notion that theater theater is a dying art form or, or even puppetry is a dying art form. You know, I don't like, no that's a cop out. You just aren't finding a way to make it relevant for today. If you actually think that, I mean I get why people might think that to some degree, but that just means they haven't thought outside the box. Time to think outside the box. And I think that's a great way. I'm glad she's doing that.

Luisa Lyons:

Literally outside the box. (laughter)

David Colston Corris:

Yeah!

Luisa Lyons:

Right. Okay. Where can we find you online?

David Colston Corris:

Definitely. @DavidColstonCorris on Instagram. I'm trying to learn to use that more. I've been updating as I've been building some puppets for a project that I'm creating with my best friend. And yeah, I have not utilized tik tok yet. But I might try to eventually, but I would say DavidColstonCorris on Instagram

Luisa Lyons:

Well, David, thank you so much. This was such a wonderful chance to be to dive into some Disney magic and to peek behind the curtain a little bit. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us.

David Colston Corris:

Thank you for having me.

Luisa Lyons:

It's my pleasure.

David Colston Corris:

Appreciate it.

Luisa Lyons:

My pleasure. Filmed Live Musicals is a labor of love and wed like to thank veryone who makes it possible. hank you to our patrons Josh B andon, Mercedes Esteban, Je se Rabinowitz and Brenda Go dman, Al Monaco, David and Katherine Rabinowitz, and Bec Twist for your support. If youd like to support Filmed Liv Musicals, please like and revie on your podcast app, find us o Twitter at musicalsonscreen an on facebook at Filmed Live Mu icals. If youd like to su port the site financially, yo can find us at patreon.com musicalsonscreen. No matt r what level you are able to pledge, you receive early ac ess to written content, and ear y access to this very podcast. V sit www.filmedlivemusicals.co to learn more. Thanks for list ning.