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Princesses on blades

Disney brings its fairy tales to the ice in Bangkok

The favourite childhood adventures of fairy-tale princesses and their charming princes will be played out in dazzling style as "Disney on Ice! Princesses and Heroes" brings eight beloved stories to life at Impact Arena next month.

BEC Tero recently took members of the Thai media to in Taiwan to catch the show, which will have Ariel from "The Little Mermaid", Cinderella, Belle from "Beauty and the Beast", Jasmine from "Aladdin", Snow White, Aurora from "Sleeping Beauty", Rapunzel from "Tangled" and Tiana from "The Princess and the Frog" will all be on the rink with their handsome princes, proving through artistic skating and graceful acrobatics that wishes come true for those who believe.

Little Tinker Bell from "Peter Pan" will wave her wand to connect one story to the next. And she won't be alone. Helping her will be Disney favourites Mickey and Minnie Mouse and their pal Goofy.

Though centred on Ariel as she yearns to explore the world above the waves and Prince Eric breaking Ursula's spell to reclaim his true love, the show starts with a fast-paced chase by Jasmine and Aladdin in the marketplace. Thrilling acrobatics by Prince Eric and his sailors from "The Little Mermaid" follows while another highlight is the fantasy fight scene from the "Sleeping Beauty" where Prince Phillip defeats the evil Maleficent as she transforms into a fire-breathing dragon.

Among the creative ideas guaranteed to draw "oohs" and "aahs" are the underwater scenes from "The Little Mermaid", which combine special bubble effects with fantastic costumes, the pumpkin carriage in "Cinderella", a fun dance by the seven dwarfs and a waltz that sees all eight couples on the ice at once.

Performance director Rebecca Andison says "Princesses and Heroes" is different from other Disney on Ice shows as it features an acrobat team who have designed a range of exciting moves never before seen on ice.

Andison, 35, who skated with Disney on Ice for seven years and appeared here in 2003's "Jungle Adventure" before taking up her current position two years ago, says her experience helps her to view the overall picture not just from a skater's point of a view but also how it will work in production terms.

"Personally my favourite story is 'The Little Mermaid'. I love this part of the performance. The music is so good and you can feel the audience really getting into the show," she says.

As it is the first time eight princesses are being fitted into one show, Andison stresses the importance of making each one a unique character.

"That's why we have to rehearse before beginning the tour and get through the little details of each princess and each character. It essential that when audience sees them, they immediately recognises their favourite characters and the stories," she explains.

Starting from scratch, the Disney on Ice show takes a few months to design and choreograph then around two weeks for rehearsal.

The skaters are awarded figure skaters who have won competitions before joining the shows. They also rehearse before and at the end each show.

Mistakes are of course inevitable but skaters are taught to smooth it out "unnoticeably, staying in character always, still acting and telling the story," she says.

The shows in each country are different. Mandarin was the language for both dialogue and songs in Taiwan, meaning that the performers - most are Westerners - had to sing along or move their lips, so the audience felt their synchronised acting from afar.

Here, the dialogue will be in Thai but the songs will be performed in the original English. The outline was adjusted a few years ago after an experiment with an all-Thai version and the subsequent discovery that the audience actually preferred the songs in English.

Andison says that audience reaction varies from country to country. Goofy is the favourite character in Scandinavia and Asian audiences adore the princesses. "Also while the French and the Latin America audience applaud twice, Asian people tend to just clap, clap and clap! It's fun to watch the different reactions," she says.

MEET TINK

- "Big C Supercenter Presents Disney on Ice! Princesses and Heroes" will be at Impact Arena Muang Thong Thani from March 22 to 25.

- Shows are 11am, 3pm and 7pm on March 22 to 24 and at 3pm and 7pm on March 25. The English version will be performed on Saturday, March 23 at 11am.

- Tickets cost Bt600 to Bt2,000 at ThaiTicketMajor.


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