Disney on Ice
Once in a while you see the kind of people that make you think, “They’ve seen too many Disney films.” Bubbly little princes or princesses with a worrisome imagination and a bias towards all things pink or cuddly. Not bad people per se, but… Disney types.
So imagine then, the people who play Cinderella her fucking self. Imagine whole rooms filled with such people. Whose job it is to be a mermaid or blue Gizmo. What kind of people would they be?
I got to find out first hand, backstage at Disney on Ice: Mickey and Minnie’s Fantastical Journey or some shit. It’s the oldest DOI show currently touring, which is noticeable by the props that are older than I am.
I believe it is the 6th or 7th time I work for DOI on their visit to Belgium. I’ve built and take down the ice rink, the castles, the lights, sound, props, I’ve operated the follow spots, and at the time of writing, my job is to get the props in place to be hauled onto the ice by the skaters. A prop prepper, if you will.
I’m usually on follow spot, where I get to see the show. I got done up the ass this year though, so I spend the entirety of the show in darkness, dodging skaters and bumping into things and people.
The crowd (read: spoiled children) might see some fantastic, magical world zapped into existence by Tinkerbell (making me wonder what made Tinkerbell) but in reality DOI is an extremely tightly choreographed, grotesque machine with many parts, designed for the purpose of ridding mommy and daddy of last month’s paycheck.
Personally, I don’t understand how anyone could have thought DOI was a good idea. It is now a huge business so obviously I am wrong, but bear with me: The show consists of two elements, being Disney and Ice. I really think that the target audience interested in both, is very small. Children might get excited to see Lilo and Stitch duke it out in real life, but don’t give a shit about insanely difficult stunts on the ice. And grown-ups who are a fan of figure skating, are better off attending some competition because as you can imagine, doing somersaults with a Pumbaa suit on is a little too extreme for even the most skillful skater.
So who comes to these kind of performances, then, other than the occasional freakish hybrid and daddies with a fish tail fetish? I think the majority of the audience consists of misguided parents and kids who are having fun mostly because they’re supposed to. They get sucked up so easily, even despite the fact that the skating sequences just make no god damn sense, regardless of how difficult they are. If anyone disagrees, I’d like to hear their kid-friendly version of what Prince Charming holding Cinderella above his head by the groin area is supposed to mean. With outstretched arm, I kid you not.
That’s the one thing I have to hand all the skaters: They pull it off and make it look easy. Things that I didn’t think were possible, in an oversized costume and mimicking words in a language they don’t understand. And they take a beating, you wouldn’t believe.
I’ve seen Sir Eric slip after a spin and land head-first on the ice, with a thud that I, on the far side of the venue, could easily hear. He laid there for about ten seconds, not moving, until I was starting to wonder if I should just slowly fade my spot out and let him be carried away subtly. But eventually he got up, and finished his fucking act. He didn’t do the jump that was supposed to follow, but he did his round around the ice with a fucking smile on his face, and marry the redhead. Gay or not, tights or not, that shit was bad ass.
Another time, some dude was holding some chick above his head with one arm, his hand in her back as she bent backwards and sort of hung there. And then he tripped, dropping her flat on the ice like a dead weight, from around 2 meters high. Rough ice, harder than concrete. They too got up, and they too finished their act before she strangled him backstage, I imagine.
Now that my job is behind the curtain and I see the dancers joke around and shit an overload of Disney all over the dressing rooms, I can forgive them. They might behave like stuck-up little bitches, but they earned the right to do so, as far as I am concerned. Perhaps that’s what you should come and see: The very well hidden badass-itude, the daily sacrifice of the skaters, who go through the humiliation of playing a gigantic, female octopus (done by a huge Russian) or the fat guy in the Stitch act, overacting their balls of in the worst kind of conditions. I’d pay to see that. Otherwise, the show is boring as hell. This one even more so than the others. Or so I’ve been told; I still haven’t actually seen it.