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Disney on Ice takes center stage in Tupelo

December 13, 2011

By ANGIE CARNATHAN
sdnlife@bellsouth.net

“Disney on Ice Celebrating 100 Years of Magic” takes center rink in Tupelo beginning 7 p.m. Thursday at the BancorpSouth Arena. The show is also scheduled for Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. The show is produced by Feld Entertainment and has been called a lavish, visually stunning production that continues to thrill audiences around the world.  
This family-friendly skating spectacular features more than 60 of your favorite Disney characters. According to a release, Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and their friends from Disney’s “Mulan,” “The Lion King,” “Pinocchio” and Disney/Pixar’s “The Incredibles” and “Finding Nemo,” take to the ice while Stitch from “Lilo & Stitch” drops in to wreak his usual havoc during the grand celebration.
The production showcases many unforgettable Disney stars that span the decades, a sing-along score of award-winning Disney music, choreography, sets and costumes.
Mickey and Minnie serve as hosts to audiences as they enjoy production numbers choreographed by Emmy Award-winning Sarah Kawahara.
Kawahara previously worked with Michelle Kwan and choreographed the skating segment for the Opening Ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics. She is known for incorporating set pieces into her choreography.
“I like to have skaters go in or through the props rather than just working in front of a set. It gives the production more dimension,” Kawahara said.
Complementing Kawahara’s skate sequences is the musical score compiled by music directors Art Kempel and Stan Beard that brings the wonderful memories of Disney to life on ice. Scenic Designer David Potts and Lighting Designer LeRoy Bennett combine their talents to showcase many memorable Disney moments.
Costume designer Scott Lane is responsible for the fantastic and colorful costumes worn by the performers. Renowned designer Bob Mackie also designed a unique red sequined evening gown worn by Minnie.
Lane and Kawahara worked closely together to be certain that every costume he designed would be highlight the intricate footwork of the performers without sacrificing style.
“The more comfortable a skater is, the better the performance,” said Lane. “Real people have to wear the costumes. They have to be able to skate as well as do jumps and spins. The wardrobe for the production must be flexible, as well as able to withstand the continual moisture of an ice environment.”
Scenic designer David Potts uses his Broadway experiencer to bring the theatrical world of Disney to life on the ice. According to a release, the skaters weave around and enliven the “It’s a Small World” sequence amidst sparkling floats that turn into a radiant light parade; a blanket of snow and an avalanche fall as Mulan battles the Huns; and a giant present is opened to reveal Buzz Lightyear as he’s first introduced to that favorite toy cowboy, Woody and his pal Jessie.
“Audiences don’t realize the amount of time and effort that goes into specially designing each of these one-of-a-kind scenic elements,” said Vice President of Scenic Elements for Feld Entertainment Rick Papineau. “But that’s how it should be. We want our work to complement the other artistic aspects of the shot –– to enhance the excitement and celebration of the production as a whole.”
The first production of “Disney On Ice,” a variety show featuring a collection of Disney stories and characters, debuted in 1981 and was an immediate success. Since 1981, “Disney On Ice” has performed in more than 70 countries on six continents.
The tremendous production numbers, well-loved songs and dazzling sets of “Disney On Ice Celebrates 100 Years of Magic” provide fond Disney memories to audiences the world over.
Taylor Blair, who plays “Buzz Lightyear” in the production, recently took the time to answer some questions about life on the road with Disney.
SDN: How did you get involved with Disney on Ice?
Blair: When I was a little kid I went to and loved all the Disney on Ice shows. I have always enjoyed performing and it was always a dream of mine to tour with an ice show. Many of my friends had joined shows, so when I heard that a “Disney On Ice” show was coming through my area and was having auditions, I was really excited. I auditioned and the rest is history.
SDN: What is your favorite part of the show?
Blair: My favorite part of the show is the “Small World” production. The costumes are inspired by places all over the world and the music is timeless. I love being able to bring Disneyland to children and adults all over the country and world.
SDN: Are you able to disclose your character, and if so, can you tell me a little bit about playing that role?
Blair: I portray the role of Buzz Lightyear and it’s a blast. The kids really enjoy the “Toy Story” production so it always has a great crowd reaction, which I love. I skate with Woody and Jessie, and we have a great time, especially when we get the crowd involved in the show by having them yell “Yee Haw!” with us. From the beginning of the number with the green army men to the end, it’s a ton of fun for us and the audience.
SDN: What are some of the challenges this show presents for you as a performer?
Blair: One of the hardest things is learning and perfecting roles, but this is also one of the most fun parts. There is so much to learn other than just the skating. We have to learn the dialogue, the acting and the general characterization. I love being able to be a different person –– or toy, in my case –– on the ice.
SDN: How old are you and how long have you been skating and/or performing?
Blair: I am 18 years old, and I have been figure skating for eleven years, but this is my first year on tour.
SDN: Do you enjoy being on the road? What do you love most and least like about it?
Blair: I love being on the road. I have gotten to see so many places that I probably never would have gotten to see otherwise. Even though it is great to experience  tour life, it is hard to so rarely see my parents and family. But I have made friends on tour who are life family, so it all works out.
SDN: Where are you from?
Blair: I live in the beautiful city of Madison, Wisconsin.
SDN: Why do you think Disney is still such a popular show?
Blair: I believe that Disney on Ice is still so popular because of its timelessness. The Disney stories, music and characters have been a part of so many children’s lives, which is why people of all ages enjoy the show. 
SDN: What is your daily schedule like as a performer? Do you have rehearsal each day?
Blair: I do the usual morning routine and then head to the rink where I stretch and warm up for the show. After the show there is usually time for us to practice and there are rehearsals about once per week.
SDN: What do you like to do in your free time while traveling?
Blair: In my free time I like to go sightseeing. I had never really been to the south before this tour, and I have to say, I really love it. The people here are great.
For more information, please visit http://www.feldentertainment.com.

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