I am unabashedly a Disney fan. Ever since I first heard Ariel woo Prince Eric with her voice at my ninth birthday party, I’ve had a bit of a love affair with the princesses. Belle was next, and then came Jasmine. I loved to belt out the songs and always rewound (on a VCR no less!) Part of Your World at least twice so I could sing along.
My daughter hasn’t inherited the princess gene, preferring superheroes like Spiderman and The Hulk to taffeta and midnight curfews. The lone exception is Tinkerbell, which has become a franchise on its own since my own childhood when she was merely the voiceless fairy in Peter Pan.
Fortunately, Disney also always includes a diverse cast of characters and sidekicks in their films, as early as Cinderella’s mice and most recently the comedic foil Olaf, from Frozen. So even if she doesn’t want to don a gown, my girl can always find at least one character to attach herself to.
At the most recent Disney on Ice production, Princesses & Heroes, both the main characters and some of their most famous sidekicks (think Sebastien and Flounder from The Little Mermaid, Snow White’s Dwarves and Lumier from Beauty and the Beast) get some wonderful moments in the spotlights, skating to classic Disney favourites such as Under the Sea, Be Our Guest and Heigh-Ho. Narrated by Mickey and Minnie Mouse and waved out by Tinkerbell, well-known power ballads such as A Whole New World and the aforementioned Part of Your World get their moment too, with their accompanying stars Aladdin and Jasmine, Ariel and Eric, well as Belle and the Beast, Cinderella and Prince Charming, and Princess Aurora and Prince Phillip.
Of course the real star of this show is Disney’s most recent blockbuster, Frozen, which dominates the performance in the second act. The audience is treated to a mash-up of Do You Want to Build A Snowman/For the First Time in Forever/Love is an Open Door, as well as a full-length skating performance of Let It Go. From the time Mickey and Minnie announce the story of two sisters, the screams of anticipation and excitement never abated. Perhaps more surprisingly, Olaf seemed to get an even bigger reaction than Queen Elsa, despite numerous audience members dressed in her now-infamous blue dress and iridescent cape. Indeed Olaf and other supporting characters such as Prince Hans, Kristoff and several townspeople add to the fullness of the performance and the delight of the audience.
While I haven’t watched any of the classics from my own heyday in years, I’ll admit that the music caught me up in memories and had me itching to watch the movies in chronological order the following day. The cast for their part, are interactive, often stopping to wave or smile at cheering audience members. For a girl who isn’t necessarily terribly invested in the princesses themselves, she was on the edge of her seat the entire time and excitedly exclaiming every time a new segment was introduced and the characters came out. My mom completed our trio for a girls’ night out, and if anyone was ever a target audience member for this show, it’s her. I caught her singing along multiple times (as was the father behind me, who nailed every lyric of Kiss the Girl). I’m not sure who was more excited: her or my daughter.
Going into the show, I had no idea just how hot a ticket Disney on Ice is until a Facebook post of envious friends informed me so. After sitting through the almost two-hour performance (including intermission), it was easy to understand why the show commands such a crowd. Lively performances set to the original score of the films, and a compelling homage to their most successful film to date made for a fun, entertaining evening for all of us. Even the non-princesses at heart.