The world of Disney welcomes the New Year with yet another spectacle. A world of adventure, enchantment and thrilling figure skating unfolds when Disney On Ice’s “Dream Big” glides into NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum, now through Jan.12.
Families are invited to share the empowering tales of Disney’s courageous leading ladies and how they made their dreams come true, which come to life in this skating extravaganza.
“The show is about big dreams,” says skater TJ Yang, 28. “It focuses on Disney characters who had a dream of what they wanted to accomplish, then [follows] their journey as they go out and do it with the help of some of their friends.”
With Tinker Bell guiding the audience, the stories colorfully unfold as the skatimg routines capture some of the most inspirational moments from the films. The production uses a combination of glittering sets, dramatic lighting and effects and fast-paced choreography to translate the movie scenes onto the ice.
“In ‘Beauty and the Beast’ we get to meet Belle and perform the big chorus number ‘Be My Guest’,” says Yang. “It’s very cool with a massive kickline and there are a lot of props as we see dancing cutlery and napkins.”
Equally as impressive, according to Yang, is the journey Moana takes on her quest to restore the heart of goddess Te Fiti with demigod Maui’s help. The special effects light up the ice, literally, with a ring of fire.
And, of course, “The Little Mermaid,” is featured, which follows Ariel’s desire to become human by follow her heart. Ariel’s journey is Director Patty Vincent’s favorite part of the show.
“I love the ‘Under the Sea’ production number because I was able to combine bubbling special effects with the most fantastic costumes and high-energy skating,” says Vincent. “The scene is even more fun than I imagined it would be.”
Yang agrees. “My favorite moment is when we meet Prince Eric. He comes down on a rope from really high up as if he’s on a ship.”
It’s clear when talking to Yang that he’s as dazzled by the show’s visuals as is the audience. “Cinderella is a huge number. She comes out in a carriage, which reminds you of the movie,” he says. “And in ‘Sleeping Beauty’ Prince Phillip fights a dragon that’s as realistic as a dragon can be. It’s very big and very scary and even shoots fire which gives life to the story.”
Along with the appealing visuals, the heart of “Dream Big” lies in the stories themselves. Clearly none is more beloved than the tale of two sisters who band together in their quest to save their kingdom.
“’Frozen’ is the kids’ favorite and when it comes on they go crazy,” says skater Sarah Santee, 22, who takes on the pivotal role of Anna. “She is really cool to play because a lot of the Disney princesses are poised, reserved and elegant. But Anna is such a high-energy character. It’s fun to play a character that has energy and power and a quirky attitude.”
The role is challenging for the young skater. “’Frozen’ is the longest segment in the show and Anna is one of the biggest, most high-energy roles,” says Santee. “The hardest aspect is keeping up a lot of energy for a long time.”
Santee is clearly up to the task. She comes from a figure skating family and has been skating her entire life.
“Both my parents were figure skaters,” she says. “They actually met when they were both performers for Disney on Ice.” Santee remembers watching videos of their performances as a little girl and immediately knew “I wanted to be a show skater, I fell in love with everything about it.” She dedicated herself to realizing that dream by training diligently and becoming a competitive skater during her teens. After graduating high school she followed in her parents’ footsteps by joining the Disney family.
Taking on Anna has been a rewarding experience. “The kids know all the songs, they want to high five you,” she says. “When you see all the emotions in their face it’s really cool and unique and special.”
That connection to the audiences is something Yang also cherishes.
“Who doesn’t want to be part of a Disney show? As a performer, the audience is the most important piece to everything,” he says. “We can see and hear their reactions and it really gives the performance energy.”
Disney on Ice presents ‘Dream Big’
When: Thursday through Sunday. Jan. 9-12. Times vary. Tickets start at $15; available at the Nassau Coliseum Box Office, (800) 745-3000 or www.ticketmaster.com.
Where: Nassau Coliseum, Hempstead Turnpike, Uniondale.