Is there life after Christmas morning? After the packages are opened, new sweaters tried on, games played, books read and toys broken, what next? OK, a big dinner with the entire family. But there is still a whole week until the kids are back in school. What to do?
Pack up the kids and take them to Walt Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” - the ice show. If you have kids, you probably own three copies of the video and have seen “Beauty and the Beast” a skillion times. Even if you are sick of it, trust me on this, you will want to see the ice show.
(Hint: If you don’t have kids, rent or borrow some, or just go and pretend you do have kids, but they’re at the concession stands a lot. Adults will definitely appreciate the worldclass skating.)
Walt Disney’s World On Ice has taken the film studio’s most popular animated features and translated them to the skating rink. Kenneth Feld produces the shows, which takes him and a large staff about a year of preparation, including recreating the sound track, choreography on the ice, designing and making costumes, creating and building sets and designing lighting.
“Beauty and the Beast” is the classic “tale as old as time” which reminds us that handsome is as handsome does. It is one of those fairy tales which was just waiting for the Disney crew to come along and make it bigger than life. And it is hard to go wrong when you add the Academy Award-winning music by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken.
So they have a great story line, a winning concept, wonderful music and the dream team of creative people. Throw in $6 million and some of the best skaters in the world and it sounds like they have a show.
The production has been touring the United States and the world, stopping in 42 locations this season. They travel with 47 skaters, who change costumes an average of six times in each show, plus 17 crew members who set up, tear down, and run the seven 48-foot semis full of equipment that it takes to put on the program.
One of the skaters filled me in on what it is like to be on the road with “Beauty and the Beast.” Victor Baryshevtsev is a native Ukrainian who has been skating since he was 7. He made his own video of himself skating, sent it off to Disney, and was invited to play the part of the braggart, Gaston, whose “strong like a bull, smart like a tractor” hubris sets the tale in motion.
Gaston is a very demanding and athletic part to play, so I asked Baryshevtsev what his most difficult move was. His response: “Acting.
“But besides acting, I have a back flip followed by a double axle. I have two solos, one in each half, and I do lots of back flips, double and triple axles. We do one show a day when it’s easy, sometimes three shows a day. But I still need to get on the ice, not just to warm up, but to practice technique. Technique gets sloppy if you just do the show.”
How many times he has skated Gaston, and is it still fun: “It could be around 2,000 times over 3 years. It’s still interesting because it’s my own part. I can change something any time I want, if I work with the choreographer, so it stays my part.
“My wife is with me, she is a chorus skater, and we get to travel. I enjoy doing the show all over the world. We have been to Europe, South America, Japan, South Asia, and were the first company to go to China. It was a big success there. I learn about cultures in other countries, but still the most exciting time is touring the U.S.”
When I asked him whether it is the people or the facilities that make the U.S. special, Baryshevtsev said, “I enjoy it much more now that I am able to speak the language. At first I wasn’t able to speak anything. Touring is nice in all of those other countries, but I try to imagine myself living there and can’t. Here I can see my future.”
“Beauty and the Beast” is definitely in my future. Maybe your family can break away from that new jigsaw puzzle long enough to catch it too. This sidebar appeared with the story:
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: Times and tickets Disney on Ice will stage “Beauty and the Beast” at the Spokane Arena at the following times: Dec. 25 at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 26 at 7:30 p.m. Dec 27 at 2 p.m.* and 7:30 p.m.* Dec. 29 at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 30 at 2 p.m.* and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 31 at 2 p.m. Reserved seat tickets are $20, $15.50, $13.50 and $11.50 (* indicates performances at which a $2 discount is available for seniors and kids 12 and under). Tickets are available at G&B; Select-a-Seat outlets, 325-SEAT or (800) 325-SEAT. The parking fee at the Arena is $3.