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Behind the Scenes of Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventure: Part 3 of the Chris Sonnenburg Series

The time has flown by so quickly. I’ve been sitting down with Chris Sonnenburg, Executive Producer of Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventure, for the past hour talking about everything from his history with Disney to the inception and pitch of the show. I ask if Chris has time for two more questions. He happily waves his hand and says, “Of course! You’re working on my time here. Bring them on!”

“So I know this might be more of a generic question,” I say, “but what was it like working with cast of the show?” Chris beams and says: “No, that’s one of my favorite questions! I love our cast so much!” Chris explains that the first task in getting the show off the ground after the pitch was to secure the two original leads from Tangled: Zachary Levi and Mandy Moore. “I’ll tell you what–it was very intimidating at first. Both of them were very protective of the franchise and wanted to make sure I had a good grasp on who their characters were, and what I wanted them to become. But after sitting down with both Zac and Mandy, once we took time to explain the heart of our story and our passion to expand the characters, they were absolutely on board. To this day, they are some of my biggest cheerleaders for the show.”

“So personally, what are Zac and Mandy like?” I ask. Chris responds laughing, “Zac is like a big brother, even though he’s younger than me! Just because he’s been in the Tangled universe for years longer than I have, he gives me that brotherly love. Mandy is just everything you would ever want her to be. There have been so many times when I am having a rough week, and Mandy will walk into the recording studio and just light up the room with her happiness. She has that irrepressible spirit. She is Rapunzel.”

Chris continues to talk about how great the new additions to the cast have been. “Eden Espinosa, who plays Cassandra, Rapunzel’s best friend on the show, has become to be a great part of our Tangled family. My daughters call her Auntie Eden! Everyone is so giving and so kind. It makes for a great creative environment!”

I have one last question for Chris: how has it been creating amazing music for the show? He nods his head enthusiastically. “One of my most favorite parts of the show is the music. The thing that really changed my life direction was The Little Mermaid. Alan Menken’s score is forever etched in my DNA. Since Alan had worked on Tangled, it was extremely important to me to bring him back on board for the show. I wanted the music not just to be there for filler–it had to have a narrative purpose. Music should always be there to change a character or tell a part of the story.” Chris explains how much of an honor it was working with Alan Menken: “Getting to sit in and help write and produce the music along side Alan was a chance of a lifetime. I honestly think we are producing some of the best music on television right now. I was listening to a song we did last week for season two and couldn’t believe this was music for a kid’s television show!”

As we finish our interview, Chris leads me outside his office to a small corner. “I have to take you here to show you how everything has come full circle.” As we round the corner, I am greeted with the sight of a massive mural of colorful art. Chris smiles: “This is where we put up all of our fan art and notes. It’s a great reminder during the week to see the impact we have on our fans. It keeps us going.”

After talking with Chris, hearing about his journey to Disney and the passion he has for his show, the cast, and the characters, I feel electrified and creatively inspired. The fan art reflects Rapunzel’s love for creativity and curiosity–the love for this show is definitely on display here. It is so inspiring to see a creative lead drive so much passion into one show. The spirit of Disney is alive in the halls of Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventure.

I did ask Chris one additional question as we ended our interview. “What advice would you give to future animators and creatives?” Chris responds with lightning speed, “Don’t just draw and create. Have an opinion about it, a very specific point of view. Draw life, experience life, and tell your story in the drawings you do.”

Formerly authored by Iain C. at Partners