I found myself mildly amused as I tried not to get run over by a gaggle of pint-sized Tianas, Ariels, Cinderellas, Belles and Rapunzels clutching their parents’ hands as we made our way into the Toyota Center in Kennewick.
We were there to experience the fantasy of Disney characters come alive before our eyes in Disney on Ice presents Dare to Dream. And what an experience it was.
Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and Donald Duck introduced us to the stories about three girls who dared to dream, starting with one of the newest female characters, Tiana, from Princess and the Frog.
Skating to prerecorded music and dialogue, the actors didn’t miss a beat or dramatic hand gesture when it came to explaining the gist of the story in just 30 minutes. While it was lovely to see Tiana, Prince Naveen and Dr. Facilier glide across the ice, it was Louis (the trumpet-playing alligator), Ray (the lovesick Cajun firefly) and Mama Odie (the old toothless voodoo princess) who stole the show.
But it wasn’t their fun-loving personalities that made us fall in love. It was the skaters who portrayed them in costume — the full-size fluffy alligator costume with trumpet in hand, wiggling its booty and the firefly with a rear-end that actually lit up. And they did this while skating, dancing and not crashing into other characters.
The Cinderella part was just as amazing. But like in Princess and the Frog, it was the supporting characters who stole the show, and this time it was the evil, bumbling stepsisters Drizella and Anastasia.
The sisters weren’t in full-blown fluffy costumes, but their faces were punctuated with masks that extended their foreheads and enlarged their noses. While Cinderella is dreamily performing fancy footwork, I watched as Drizella and Anastasia interacted with the kids sitting along the side of the rink. The sisters would get their attention by waving, sticking out their tongues and then skating off.
This production did a fantastic job of keeping the audience engaged. When Fairy Godmother couldn’t remember the words to transform Cinderella, she knew who to ask. The audience had no problem answering with a “bippity-boppity-boo.”
There was such build-up of anticipation that the roar from the crowd almost drowned out the music as a transformed Cinderella, her carriage and the horses finally emerged while skaters dressed as horses pulled the carriage around the rink on its way to the ball.
I was wondering how Disney could top Cinderella’s transformation, but they did with spectacular aerial stunts with Disney’s newest character, Rapunzel, from Tangled.
Her golden locks were draped along a pulley mechanism near the ceiling that let out golden fabric to give the illusion of Flynn Rider and Rapunzel escaping from the tower.
They wrapped their arms around the golden fabric, and with their muscles, a little bit of balance and the force of gravity, they lifted off the ground to seemingly fly about the arena, getting “tangled” in her hair.
After such a draw-dropping moment, seeing Maximus the horse in a giant costume enclosing two skaters was another laughable moment. I can’t even imagine the time the skaters had to spend to get in sync with one another and then not crash into others.
And that’s just it. These shows obviously take a lot rehearsing and brainstorming to develop the costumes, lighting, choreography and casting.
There were so many moments — big and small — during the show that I just don’t have time to report. Like the king’s guard marching in unison, Flynn Rider doing the worm, the triple axels, the dance lifts, the small moments when characters would interact with the audience.
Disney succeeded in taking storylines from movies and transforming them into an eye-popping ice skating production. And as a first-time viewer of a Disney on Ice production, I was impressed.
-- Tiffany Leach is a copy editor at the Tri-City Herald. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.