IF THERE is one thing Disney knows, it’s how to put on a show. For 100 years its animators have breathed life into drawings, given us moments of pure pleasure, created characters that we have loved or loathed, made us laugh and sometimes even cry.
Long before the notion of ear worms – you know, those tunes that you just can’t get out of your head – Disney was creating uplifting songs that sear into your memory and when you hear them again can instantly transport you back to that moment when you first heard them.
Perhaps Walt Disney’s greatest achievement over the years, and the production house that followed, has been to create films and songs that are as loved by children now as they were by their parents or grandparents. Now Disney is bringing those much loved characters to life in a different way as its latest experience skates into town.
Taking up residence once more in Dublin’s City West Hotel from this Thursday to Sunday, Disney on Ice: 100 Years of Magic is described simply by the organisers as a grand celebration.
It features more than 60 Disney and Pixar stars from across the decades, a sing-along score of award-winning Disney music, stunning choreography, elaborate sets and beautiful costumes.
Love it or hate it, you cannot deny the magnetising power Disney holds over some people. Among the lead skaters is Natasha Kuchiki, who plays Mulan and Princess Jasmine. This former Olympian has been with Disney on Ice (DOI) for 19 years. Or Jamie Loper who plays Aladdin and Shang (bad guy in Mulan) who has been with DOI for 17 years. Or Adam Blake who plays Sarge from Toy Story, a mere baby in comparison to the other two with just five years under his belt, but saw DOI when he was 12 years old and wanted to skate in the show ever since.
So what can we expect? Mickey Mouse and his long-time girlfriend Minnie act as masters of ceremony to weave this show together. Characters from Mulan, The Lion King, Pinocchio, The Incredibles and Finding Nemo, take to the ice along with a catalogue of princesses from Belle to Aerial.
Some of the production numbers have been choreographed by Emmy Award-winner Sarah Kawahara, who also choreographed the skating segment for the opening ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics, and are absolutley breath-taking.
Among the show’s highlights are the ‘It’s a Small World’ sequence where sparkling floats turn into a radiant light parade; a blanket of snow and an avalanche fall as Mulan battles the Huns; and a giant present opens up to reveal Buzz Lightyear as he is first introduced to Woody and his pal Jessie.
Outfitting this cast of more than 60 characters was the challenge facing costume designer Scott Lane. His designs range from Mickey’s Marching Band, to the ‘It’s a Small World’ dolls, to the stars of Mulan and Finding Nemo.
“The bright colours and minimal structure in the Nemo costumes allow the characters to move freely in order to mimic the natural movement in water,” explains one of the production staff.
It takes 14 hours to set the production up, 11 trucks are needed to haul the equipment, and it takes 1,200 hours of rehearsal for the almost 50 performers. Like I said, Disney know how to put on a show. So wrap up warm, leave your cynicism at the door and get ready for a sing-along spectacular.
The only problem will be trying to get the songs out of your head afterwards.
- Disney on Ice is at the City West Hotel in Dublin from Thursday to Sunday. www.ticketmaster.ie