Review: Disney on Ice in Wellington

Disney on Ice
TSB Bank Arena, Wellington, May 15

Standing in a queue at the TSB Bank Arena for ice creams before opening night for Disney on Ice I overheard a frazzled-looking gentleman in front of me joke out loud in desperation: ‘‘I’ll have six beers please’’.

It summed up the contrast between many of the children – unrestrained excitement, some of the girls in Disney princess costumes – and foreboding by parents that it would be another show where they would be bored and try to surreptitiously browse the internet on their smart phones until it was over.

My expectation was that, this being Disney, the show would be professional, slick and with the highest production values, but offer little to me.

But by Jiminy Cricket, I was wrong. Disney on Ice effortlessly combined the skill of ice skating and choreography – including some impressive and unexpected acrobatics –  with lavish costumes, props, for the most part, tight, albeit entirely predictable story telling. 

Mickey, Minnie and Goofy hosted a series of vignettes from some of the entertainment giant’s animated features, opening with Aladdin. The fact that several props and sets – themselves on skates – were used to create an Arabian market place – showed just how thought out the concept was.

Again and again, as the audience was cycled through other movies, including Snow White and Seven Dwarfs and The Little Mermaid, something would appear on the rink other than the skaters. It got to the point of being reminiscent of some of the left-field thinking we’ve seen in the World of WearableArt [correct] Awards when staged in the same venue.

Some sections require very recent knowledge of the Disney oeuvre. I hadn’t seen 2009’s The Princess and the Frog, set in 1920s New Orleans, so was scratching my head, while my entranced eight-year-old nodded with recognition. But I even found myself involuntarily clapping and singing ‘‘Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to work we go’’, when the seven dwarfs skated in to loud applause. Next, it was trying to work out how the skaters managed to be so limber despite being in convincing dwarf costumes.

The lighting and visual effects were first rate, with a few surprises. The only time I felt a bit like Grumpy the dwarf was when the volume for the recorded soundtrack and dialogue seemed a little too loud.

The largely young audience were like Happy the dwarf through out the 80 minutes. If anyone felt like Dopey, it was probably the one who had six beers. 

The Dominion Post