Encanto at the Hollywood Bowl Interview: Adassa, Kai Martinez, Jamal Sims, & Sally Wood

ComingSoon Senior Editor Spencer Legacy spoke with Dolores’ actress and singer Adassa, choreographers Kai Martinez and Jamal Sims, and showrunner/executive producer Sally Wood about Encanto at the Hollywood Bowl, the live-to-film concert that is set to come to Disney+ on December 28.

“Starring Stephanie Beatriz (as Mirabel), Jessica Darrow (as Luisa), Diane Guerrero (as Isabela), Adassa (as Dolores), Carolina Gaitán (as Pepa), Mauro Castillo (as Félix), Angie Cepeda (as Julieta) and Olga Merediz (as Abuela Alma), along with special guests – legendary Colombian superstars and multiple Latin Grammy winners Carlos Vives and Andrés Cepeda – Encanto at the Hollywood Bowl turns the historic venue into the world of the animated film that became a global phenomenon,” says the description. “This live-to-film concert experience, featuring an 80-person orchestra, 50 dancers, and out-of-this-world special effects, gives viewers a front-row seat to the unprecedented musical extravaganza celebrating the world, characters, and songs of Disney Animation’s Encanto.”

Spencer Legacy: Adassa, this event was a unique opportunity to represent Dolores visually as well as with your voice. What did that mean to you?

Adassa: It meant the world to me because I got to see the reaction of the people. I was so grateful when Kai and Jamal said, “Look, we’re planning to put you out in the audience. Is that okay?” And I was like, “Are you kidding me? I get to actually see them react to the wonderful majestic world of art that you have created because it is a world that they made on this stage!” Every single detail — down to the fruit. I mean, every single detail was taken care of. You are seeing people dancing like the animals out of Antonio’s room. For me to be on that stage and be able to give the voice to Dolores — now, not behind the scenes, but in front of that stage — as a singer, I was in my element, absolutely.

But as a voice-over performer and the voice of Dolores, to see and feel the magic of the Madrigal home coming to life and see the people feeling it, as well. Seeing that Colombian Bandera hanging up high — that flag — it was an emblem to, “Wow, how incredibly far have we come that something animated that has become a phenomenon throughout the world now has resonated into an actual stage where Elton John has played, where the Beatles have played. And here we are, a whole bunch of Latinos of all different shapes and sizes and colors and hair textures, being able to sing together and the way that they created the majesty of this show.” You guys have to watch it. I’ve just got to say, I’m so grateful to have given voice to Dolores and now to also be a face on that stage along with these other incredible actors that I got to share in this production.

Kai, the sheer number of people on stage dancing is incredible. How was working with so many different people and moving parts?

Kai Martinez: Ooh, well … it was a challenge! It was definitely an incredible challenge. It was beautiful. It was so much fun. Again, being able to work under the leadership of Jamal Sims — not only on the film but into our live-action performance … we had an ensemble of 50 dancers and there were a lot of times where I was like, “Jamal, what do we do? I don’t know!” And he always kept his cool. I’ve learned so much from him in this process, but then it felt like a puzzle. Like we had to put these puzzles together. So the numbers that we had already on the film, like “We Don’t Talk About Bruno,” it was fun because we actually had to find a new interesting way of presenting the choreography that we already worked on.

But other numbers that we didn’t necessarily work on, like “Dos Oruguitas,” it was like, “Now what is our vision for this?” If this was on Broadway, what would we envision for it? So we had a lot of fun with that, and it also takes a village, like Jamal said. It could not have been done with one person. We had an incredible team with us, an incredible ensemble group that became family. Not just the dance department, we also had our costume and our cast and our musicians and everybody on this project work cohesively and together to make it this one common goal.

Jamal, some of the performances extend into the lanes in the audience. Is it a difficult process to choreograph the dancers who are offstage and so close to the audience as well as the people onstage?

Jamal Sims: Yeah, it’s funny because how this show was conceived was all over Zoom, and this was all without going to the Hollywood Bowl. And actually your background gives me anxiety! We don’t know where the entrances are. In our head, we’re talking about and we’re selling these concepts and we’re like, “This is going to happen.” Then we’re like, “We haven’t even been to the bowl yet!” We’ve been there, like I’ve been there to see shows, but I’m not paying attention to where we can place people. So we walk in on day one and we’re like, “um, I think that’s where we should do it, over there. We should do this.” Then everybody just jumps in and we start figuring it out. But what was really important was the immersive experience that we wanted to make the audience feel like having Adassa out there in the audience, just to see those kids going like, “Oh my gosh.” It’s like going to Disneyland for the first time and seeing Mickey Mouse out of the animation. Now Mickey Mouse is in your face. Not saying that it’s Mickey Mouse, but you know —

Adassa: I love the mouse! I will do it!

Kai Martinez: We did have Bruno’s rats in the audience!

Jamal Sims: But you know what I mean? So to see those faces of terror, but then joy and all that … it was so much fun.

Adassa: I would have to say, what they created was a front row seat to the phenomenon you fell in love with online, over Disney Plus, in the movie theaters — they brought it front row. So when those lights went on, because some of them — I was saying hi to them and they were like, “What? What’s going on?” And then when the lights hit them, they were like, “Oh my goodness!” They’re seeing all these Doloreses pop out and they’re going, “What? We are in it! We are in Encanto! We are in the Madrigal family right now!” So it became a front row seat to it, not just watching it, but now you’re part of it. That was just such a beautiful thing that they created when they did that. And then I got to watch a little bit of the show from there, which was, for me, I was like, “Oh my gosh, this is so good! Keep it together!”

Sally, what is it do you think that made Encanto such a good fit for a Hollywood Bowl show?

Sally Wood: I think the location. We created the Casita in the Hollywood Hills, which we felt had a feel of the movie. On this project, everybody worked so closely together to create it. I hope that translates to the TV broadcast when people watch it, that it was like a huge family and all departments worked with one goal — just to make the very, very best show possible.

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