Stepping Out

Timeless Disney ‘magic’ on ice

A century of beloved Disney stars share memorable moments

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Another Disney on Ice extravaganza arrives at Nassau Coliseum to start the New Year off to the delight of fans who can’t get enough of their favorite Disney moments. Audiences can relive all those iconic characters and stories when Disney on Ice’s “100 Years of Magic,” visits Long Island for four days, opening Thursday, Jan. 9.
This production showcases Disney’s legacy of hit films, including those produced with Pixar. That long list includes “Aladdin,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Lion King,” “Mulan,” “Pinocchio,” “Toy Story,” and “Finding Nemo,” along with a special segment celebrating “It’s A Small World,” the enduring Disney theme park attraction.
Those unforgettable stories and enthralling characters are brought to life on ice in a variety show-style production with a cast of over 60 lovable Disney stars — featuring Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pinocchio, Jiminy Cricket, Stitch, Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Nemo and the Incredibles — and exciting moments from Disney movies, presented through 10 different story segments.
Characters from the Disney treasury skate to award-winning songs “When You Wish Upon a Star,” “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Under the Sea,” and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” among other favorites. Thrilling skating, dazzling sets and costumes, along with exciting special effects, transport audiences through decades of beloved Disney stories with these memorable characters.
A staple of Disney on Ice’s repertoire, “100 Years of Magic” remains one the most popular shows for Feld Entertainment, the company that produces ice spectacles. “I have traveled all over the world with it,” said Cory Obst, the show’s production director. “ I love seeing the response to it. It’s hugely successful and it’s such a treat to be part of Walt’s legacy through this show.”
With a treasury of those well-known, timeless stories and characters, along with some of the newer tales that have joined the Disney hit parade, “100 Years of Magic” continues to have multi-generational appeal. ”We’ve got a lot packed into just under two hours,” said Obst, who keeps everything moving along. “This is one of our largest shows.”
It’s a fast-paced spectacle, with segments changing every six or seven minutes or so. It all adds up to a lot of “wows,” according to Obst, who is in the audience monitoring the action on the ice during each performance. “I love hearing what everyone in the audience has to say,” Obst said, “from the grandparents explaining who Pinocchio is to the younger kids telling their grandparents about some of the newer characters, like The Incredibles.”
Obst, who joined Feld Entertainment since 1995, has been involved with the production for 11 years. He knows the show well. “Everything the audience sees and feels I’m in charge of,” he said. “I sit in the seats with the audience so I can make sure each show has artistic integrity for our audiences.”
Obst is charged with overseeing the skaters, the technical aspects, lighting, sound, and staging. “Our show is an exciting blend of artistry and athleticism,” Obst said. And he keeps a careful eye on it all.
The 44-year-old Saskatchewa, Canada native grew up playing hockey and then switched to figure skating as a teenager. He found he preferred performing more than goal-scoring and skated competitively in Canada, eventually joining the Ice Capades and then Disney on Ice. Now, he has what describes as his “dream job.” “It keeps me young,” Obst said.
Obst puts the cast of 47 skaters from 10 countries through their paces at extensive practices, which includes a weekly three-hour rehearsal to address any adjustments that need to be made. “I love having all that talent to work with,” he said.
Obst and his skaters are especially excited to be doing the show in an Olympic year. “We always see a spike in interest around the Olympics,” he said. “Audiences have become increasingly educated about skating. “We love it when they respond to the level of what the skaters are doing. Skaters make it look so easy when it is not. The high caliber of skating combined with the production values of this show is a good recipe for an afternoon of great family entertainment. We love to hear the audience’s reaction. That’s why we do what we do.”
With Mickey and Minnie leading the way, audiences see breathtaking production numbers created by renowned choreographer Sarah Kawahara. Kawahara, who won two Emmy® Awards for the skating segments in the 2002 Winter Olympic Opening Ceremonies and Scott Hamilton: Upside Down, defines choreography for figure skating as “the fusion of music with interpretive movement and the technical elements of skating. It is more than just skating. You define what you want to say and how you want to say it.”
Complementing the skate sequences, Scenic Designer David Potts, who has worked on numerous Broadway productions, creates a theatrical atmosphere on ice. 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; the African Pride Lands are imaginatively recreated as everyone’s favorite sidekicks, Timon and Pumbaa, delight audiences with their wacky antics and unique sense of adventure, among other highlights.
Obst is especially fond of the It’s a Small World segment. “To see 36 skaters perform in traditional folkloric costumes is really special, with the cool light parade, similar to the parades at Disney parks, as the finale to the first act.”
It’s as if a Disney theme park experience has been recreated on the ice. “The show is exciting, amusing, and at times truly spectacular,” Obst said. “The audience is cheering as each story is introduced. We’ve really captured the essence of these timeless stories by taking the favorite moments from each of that we put out there, which really resonate with the audience.”

Disney on Ice’s ‘100 Years of Magic’
Thursday through Sunday, Jan. 9-12, at Nassau Coliseum. Times vary. Tickets are $25-$185; available at Nassau Coliseum Box Office,
(800) 745-3000 or www.ticketmaster.com.