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GET INTOUCH THIS MONTH
  • Liane Morris

Magic, Thrills and Hoverboards... It's Disney On Ice!


Image Courtesy of Feld Entertainment. Image Credit: Matt Gerrick.

This month sees the return of everyone’s family favourite, Disney On Ice, presenting 100 Years of Wonder. Guaranteed to be an adventure the whole family will enjoy, it stars some of the world’s most beloved characters. It features world-class skating and high-flying acrobatics, unexpected stunts, and wow moments both on the ice and in the air. With some of the most advanced ice-skating technology ever seen, the magic and thrills are dialled up to breathtaking levels that will have you creating memories for a lifetime. And there are real-life hoverboards too!

 

This year’s production asks the audience to join the cast and embark on a quest with Mickey Mouse and pals as they follow Captain Hook’s treasure map for clues to find Tinker Bell after he attempts to capture her magic. A firm audience favourite, Tinker Bell (portrayed by seasoned Disney On Ice performer 32-yearold Canadian Sarah Nolan), is trapped in a lantern, and everyone wants to rescue her. The story journeys across the Marigold Bridge with Miguel from Disney©Pixar’s Coco into the magnificent and mystical Land of the Dead to discover a vibrantly colourful performance with skeletons atop sway poles dancing over the audience in a beautiful cultural celebration of family.


Young Frozen fans will not be disappointed as the story travels to the wintry world of Arendelle, and the audience sings along with Elsa. This magical world is brought to life with video projection creating a kaleidoscope of crystals to help build Elsa’s ice palace. Beauty and the Beast’s Belle is also there, being lifted into the sky as the enchanted chandelier comes to life high over the ice. The story continues with the power of teamwork when Toy Story’s Buzz Lightyear, Woody and Jessie recruit the Green Army Men for a daring rescue in Andy’s room. Audiences will laugh hysterically as the hilarious pirates flip, tumble, and twist on tumble tracks, stilts and more in an effort to showcase their talents for Captain Hook. Sail away with Moana on her daring voyage across the ocean and bravely encounter the fiery wrath of Te Ka. Aladdin and The Little Mermaid also join the search party, which becomes an all-out celebration.


Image Courtesy of Feld Entertainment. Image Credit: Matt Gerrick.

Disney On Ice has been entertaining audiences since 1981, when it was called Walt Disney’s World on Ice. Created by entertainment producer Feld Entertainment, it began touring the world as early as 1986. Feld Entertainment is the worldwide leader in producing and presenting live touring family entertainment experiences that bring people together and uplift the human spirit. Properties include Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey®, Monster Jam®, Monster Energy Supercross, Disney On Ice, Marvel Universe LIVE!, and Jurassic World Live Tour. Across the brand portfolio, Feld Entertainment has entertained millions of families in more than 75 countries and on six continents. Chairman and CEO of Feld Entertainment, Kenneth Feld, said on celebrating 40 years in the business of Disney On Ice that “Everything you do in life starts with one small step. The first Disney On Ice show premiered in 1981, and we are still bringing happiness to generations of families 40 years later. When we started it, we never knew it would last this long. Disney On Ice is everchanging, and there are always surprises for all of our Disney fans. That’s the key. Disney On Ice will always be around as long as we continue to do that.”


Since it began, it has entertained an astounding 320 million guests in 68 countries in more than 545 cities and performed in more than 41 languages. In fact, over this last year alone, Disney On Ice performers have travelled over 2.25 million kilometres worldwide, bringing LIVE Disney magic to millions in 16 countries throughout nearly 2,000 performances, and now it’s our turn with this latest tour visiting six Australian cities, including Newcastle.


Image Courtesy of Feld Entertainment. Image Credit: Matt Gerrick.

The company is the largest employer of professional ice skaters in the world, with 400+ employed at any one time. The current tour includes 57 cast and 14 crew with the youngest members only 18 years of age. The team can be touring up to nine or ten months per year and become like a family under the guidance of the Performance Director.


Alex Allen, who hails from Washington, DC and has been with Disney On Ice for 13 years, is the Performance Director for this tour. It is his first time in the role after many years as a key performer.


“I’ve been in the entertainment business for 16 years, and 13 of those have been as a skater and performer with Disney On Ice,” said Alex. “It’s my job to ensure that the show goes on as intended at the highest level of quality and integrity.


“Australia is one of those destinations where we have to spend a little bit of time recovering from jetlag because the time difference is 12 hours plus. One of the great things about all the travel we do is that we get to enjoy food from all over the world. I’m a big foodie, and Thai and Indian foods are my favourites, but Australia is the home of Tim Tams and good steak, and I’ll be enjoying plenty of them while I’m here!


Alex is a consummate performer in his own right, having spent years as a main show host with Disney On Ice. Known for his skating artistry coupled with the razzle-dazzle of a Broadway star, he is passionate about what the show delivers to its audience, and he’s not the only one. The entire cast and crew share the same passion – spreading the magic of Disney.


“There is nothing else like it,” said Alex. “As performers, you get to see the faces of the audience members – both young and old. It sparks your inner child and opens your heart to the magic and wonder that everyone remembers feeling when they were little. We all love it. It’s deeply rewarding to be delivering such a fabulous feeling to everyone. I especially love the kids’ reactions – it’s like their toys have come to life for them. “


Image Courtesy of Feld Entertainment. Image Credit: Matt Gerrick.

100 Years of Wonder features more acrobatics than ever before seen in a Disney On Ice production. According to Alex, the audience can expect to see a hybrid circus show on ice and in the air, taking the excitement and thrills to a whole new level.


“I’m very excited about this production because it includes such a unique blend of acrobatic elements along with video projections that blur the lines between the magic of film and live action. It creates a truly immersive experience. There’s as much action in the air as on the ice. And we are the first and only show to ever include ice hoverboards – real hoverboards!”


Image Courtesy of Feld Entertainment. Image Credit: Matt Gerrick.

Securing a position with Disney On Ice is hotly contested across the whole globe. All the skaters are professionals, with more than 50 of them being former Olympic athletes. Auditions are held all over the world. Keen skaters are always encouraged to submit an audition tape to Feld Entertainment. A quick look at their website shows that even now, they are seeking applications from figure skaters, freestyle or ramp skaters, aerialists, acrobats and gymnasts, as well as live speaking hosts. Australian-born Nick Fernandez sent through his video application and is now the only Australian performing in this year’s show.


Nick grew up in Cranebrook, Western Sydney and took up ice skating for fun because his mother loved the sport. Nick went on to win multiple awards, including being the Australian National Champion over several years. He started with Feld Entertainment and Disney On Ice in 2012.


“I put a YouTube video together with all my skating skills and sent them to the Feld Entertainment office via e-mail,” said Nick. Once they saw it, they asked me to have a personal audition with them when they were in Australia. I couldn’t believe it when I was successful. It was truly the best day of my life, and there may have been a tear or two. I have no regrets about leaving competitive skating behind – I’ve been having an absolute blast.


“I love being the only Aussie on the team, and it’s so cool to be back home. I’m looking forward to the Sydney shows when my family and friends will be able to come and see me perform. And Australian audiences are actually very different to others from around the world. They are much more vocal, and they really know how to have a good time! This show is very different too. There are a lot more gasps and awe because there’s so much more acrobatics. It’s like seeing a circus on ice.


Image Courtesy of Feld Entertainment. Image Credit: Matt Gerrick.

“Travelling around the world performing is exciting. Seeing how much the kids love the show and watching their parents enjoy it just as much is very rewarding. The only downside to what we do is the constancy of living out of a suitcase for nine or ten months of the year, as well as being away from family and friends and never having a kitchen to do some home cooking. Food becomes quite important when you’re on the road so much. I’m looking forward to Tim Tams, Lamingtons and some good old Aussie fish and chips on the beach. I don’t think any country does fish and chips as well as we do.


“I’m one of the professional skaters in the show and don’t have a particular role. If you keep an eye out for a ‘spoon’ in the Beauty and the Beast piece, you might spot me, and I’m also one of Kristoff’s mates in the Frozen segment.


It takes a love of performing, persistence and determination to be a Disney On Ice skater, with over 550 hours of rehearsal required before performing in a new show. Skaters reach over 32 km per hour on the icy stage and can spin up to 300 rotations per minute! The costumes are sometimes very heavy, and quick changes are often required in under 30 seconds. The professional skaters that are employed in the show love their work. The record for the longest time spent on a Disney Ice show by a professional skater is held by Isao Matsuura, who has performed 6,269 shows and is still performing. Disney On Ice provides professional skaters with ongoing employment, enabling them to continue to perfect, display and refine their unique talents.


Image Courtesy of Feld Entertainment. Image Credit: Matt Gerrick.

As Nick said, “My original goal was to be with Disney On Ice for five years. It’s now been 11 years, and I’m still loving it. I have no plans to change any time soon.”


100 Years of Wonder has been toured extensively across the United States under the name of Mickey’s Search Party to rave reviews. Fans have been wildly enthusiastic about the acrobatics and aerial stunts, the use of technology to enhance the audience experience and make it even more immersive, and did we mention hoverboard tricks?


One thing is certain: Newcastle is very lucky to be on the touring schedule with every other city in Australia that the show tours to being a capital city. If you’re an old fan of Disney On Ice, you know you’ll enjoy it, but with all the additional acrobatics and video technology, it truly has something for everyone to enjoy. As the Performance Director Alex Allen says, “Just come to the show. Have a blast and feel like a kid again. Live your Disney dream!”


Image Courtesy of Feld Entertainment. Image Credit: Matt Gerrick.

Disney On Ice 100 Years of Wonder is on at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre, 20-23 July, with general public tickets on sale now from www.ticketek.com.au/disneyonice.

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