Painters and carpenters apply the finishing touches to buildings. Costumed Cast Members practice hosting guests on attractions, in shops and at food locations. Mechanics fine-tune Model Ts and spaceships.
Meanwhile, behind the scenes, a band tunes up, dancers stretch, “characters” try out new personalities, and North American bison graze contentedly in French pastures. Soon, they’ll all step onstage to entertain guests at Euro Disney Resort.
Jean-Luc Choplin, Director of Entertainment at Euro Disney Resort, is looking forward to the moment when the curtain rises on all his productions—and there are quite a few of them. In addition to providing entertainers for the Euro Disneyland Theme Park, Choplin is also responsible for the musicians at the Resort hotels and the production of the spectacular new Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show at Festival Disney, the Resort’s entertainment center.
Putting on major productions is nothing new to Choplin. As the former Director of Dance at the Paris Opera, he worked with Artistic Director Rudolph Nureyev on both stage performances and filming. “I also organized many tours in the States,” says Choplin, “So I was involved, for example, with the New York Met and the Southern California Performing Arts. I am very familiar with big productions there.” Choplin had been with the Opera for five years when he heard about Euro Disney.
“I was very excited when I heard there would be such a project,” he remembers. “I was very interested. After five years of the Opera, I was ready for a new challenge.” Having become acquainted with Bob Fitzpatrick (President of Euro Disney) during his forays to the States, Choplin contacted him and was advised to interview for the position of Director of Entertainment.
“After the interviews, Euro Disney sent me to Florida to spend one week at Walt Disney World,” Choplin recalls, “to make sure I was making the right decision — and that they were, too!”
Actually, it didn’t take quite that long. “After just three days,” he says, “I signed my contract. Just three days. I was charmed by the friendliness and professionalism of the people, and impressed by the quality of Disney.
“And I was looking forward to the challenge of building a new place — the chance to start from scratch, to create the division, to produce new shows. It would be like opening a lot of new theatres—only all at once.”
That was in September 1989. Since then, Choplin completed extensive training at Walt Disney World, auditioned talent in both the United States and Europe, and is now putting his shows into final rehearsals.