THE MAGIC of Walt Disney has captivated imaginations and fuelled notions of fairy tale-like reveries for decades. Even the most cynical of souls can seldom resist the lure of Walt’s whimsical characters, or bopping along to the memorable numbers that have defined many a childhood, generation after generation.
Perhaps that’s why, despite being distinctly geared towards the younger market, it was mostly the parents who could be seen swaying along to Tale as Old as Time, When You Wish Upon a Star, You’ve Got a Friend in Me and other iconic songs during the weekend’s opening performance of Disney on Ice.
Featuring more than 60 unforgettable Disney figures throughout the ages (including timeless favourites Mickey and Minnie Mouse with their troupe of close chums, Donald Duck, Daisy, Pluto and Goofy), this year marks the 100th celebration of Disney’s Midas touch when it comes to all things fantasy-filled.
As the title suggests, the show is set on ice with highly skilled ice-skaters taking on the roles of Disney’s most-beloved animated personalities from a number of blockbuster films, including Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, Pocahontas, Toy Story, Pinocchio and Finding Nemo.
It was the distinctly African- themed The Lion King sequence that proved most popular among local audiences, however, with the crowd roaring their approval as Timon and Pumbaa made their way on to the rink, to the sounds of the seminal Hakuna Matata.
The Incredibles’ vignette also made for a standout sketch (one with witty undertones that had the older audience members in the throes of great amusement), as too did the scene depicting It’s a Small World After All with its enchanting set and spectacular costuming, which stand as testament to the prolific talents of scenic and lighting designers, David Potts and Leroy Bennett respectively, as well as costume designer, Scott Lane.
The impressive and cleverly nuanced skating choreography (courtesy of Emmy Award-winner Sarah Kawahara, who was also behind the choreography for the opening ceremony of the 2002 Winter Olympics) complements Disney’s fictive world to perfection, leaving you with the unshakable – even if fanciful – sense that dreams really can come true.
The main criticisms speak to the length of the show (at roughly two-and-a-half hours, even the mommies and daddies grew restless), while some audience members took issue with the fact the performers lip-synched to the songs.
Personally, however, the decision to sing along to the classic theme tunes from the various tales, as intoned by the original actors who voiced them, was the wiser one in so far as it helped to keep the illusion alive.
Disney on Ice, 100 Years of Magic is undoubtedly one for the memory books and not to be missed this school holiday season!
• Disney on Ice runs at the Coca-Cola Dome in Joburg until Sunday, before heading down to Cape Town’s GrandWest Arena from July 23 to 27. Show times for Joburg and Cape Town range from 10am to 6pm, in order to cater for the kiddies. Family and group package specials also available through Computicket.