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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

‘Big’ on ice: Disney returns with ice skating spectacular at Spokane Arena

Shanda DeWitt can’t let it go. The veteran Disney on Ice skater is once again playing Elsa, the beloved princess from “Frozen.” “Let It Go,” the Oscar-winning song from “Frozen” performed by Idina Menzel, which was ubiquitous in 2013, emanates from Elsa.

“I love playing Elsa,” DeWitt said while calling from El Paso. “I’ve been playing that role for so long, and it’s so great. Yes, there’s one big song that everybody loves, and I enjoy that so much. It never gets old. People get so excited about it.”

DeWitt, 32, who has been performing with Disney on Ice for six years, will return to Spokane for the latest production, “Dream Big,” which is slated for Oct. 22-24 at the Spokane Arena.

“It’s a big message for children,” DeWitt said. “We encourage children to dream big. I hope children see this show and leave with the idea that they can do anything they want to do.”

Disney on Ice performance director Bryan Santiago echoes DeWitt. “We hope children are inspired to dream big and work hard to achieve their goals,” Santiago said from El Paso. “You can make anything happen. But we also want to entertain them with this show, which has so many characters from so many different backgrounds.”

“Dream Big” starts with Miguel, who aspires to become a musician and journeys through the Land of the Dead to unlock his family’s history. Moana and Maui bravely restore the stolen heart of Te Fiti. Anna and Elsa save their kingdom, and the Disney princesses inspire with stories of strength, determination and kindness.

“It’s classic Disney, and I think there is something for everyone,” Santiago said. Santiago and DeWitt are thrilled to be back on a full-scale tour after being interrupted by the pandemic. “It was an adjustment for everybody,” Santiago said. “It was an adjustment since we were so used to our schedule every month and every year.

“It was tough being away from what we do. This is my 11th year with Disney and sixth as performance director. This is what I do. When we came back it, was very emotional for everyone. We were just so happy to be back because when we shut down in March of 2020, we had no idea when we could do this again.

“It hit a point in which we wondered if we should move on to something else with our lives. But we’re thankful that we’re about to be back with Disney on Ice. We’re staying as healthy and safe as we can and following all of the COVID protocols.”

Disney on Ice, which is celebrating its 40 anniverary this year, started rehearsals last month in Oklahoma City, where “Dream Big” opened. “The skaters got back into their groove,” Santiago said. “We worked on choreography and blocking, and we’re where we should be.”

DeWitt is ready to entertain with staples such as Mickey and Minnie Mouse. “I’m prepared and excited especially to return to Spokane,” she said. “I’ve skated in a number of shows in Spokane and was there during the summer for a family reason. It’s such a beautiful city.

“One of the best things about being part of the show is traveling and seeing the country. The other is performing in front of all of the families that come out and want to escape for a few hours with Disney.”