The New Year arrives with another a dose of Disney magic. The latest Disney On Ice extravaganza brings the hugely popular “Frozen” to Nassau Coliseum, to the delight of fans who can’t seem to get enough of royal sisters Anna and Elsa.
As always, Mickey and Minnie are on hand to guide audiences through the charming story set Arendelle, during its four days of shows, opening Jan. 10.
“Everyone always says they remember their first show and it’s so true,” says veteran skater and Chicago, Ill. native Eddy Zeidler. “I was 26 years old when I skated in my first show, “Pocahontas.” at the Oklahoma State Fair. It’ll be ingrained in my brain forever.”
In the 22 years since then Zeidler — a former member of the U.S. Nationals team — has skated in thousands of performances all over the world. He’s been a chieftain, a prince, a street thief and Buzz Lightyear, among other characters. At 48, the longtime performer is still a kid at heart and still gets a thrill out of performing. He’s especially excited to be part of the ensemble currently bringing the beloved hit to life.
“I love looking out from the ice and seeing all the children dressed in their costumes as little Annas and Elsas singing ‘Let it Go’,” he says. “We even get a few random Darth Vaders thrown into the mix too.”
When the movie premiered in 2013, millions of children everywhere were captivated by the adventures of Anna and Elsa as they navigated love, friendship and sisterhood in the icy kingdom of Arendelle. To be sure, the story and soaring musical score resonated not just with little girls, but also with audiences of all ages.
It won two Academy Awards (for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song “Let It Go”) and to date has made over $1.2 billion worldwide. Re-imagining a bonafide blockbuster like “Frozen” for ice was a delicate balancing act for the creative team.
“My vision in choreographing ‘Frozen’ was to keep true to the story while allowing some artistic license to present the characters in a way that would translate well for the ice,” says choreographer Cindy Stuart, whose talent has been showcased in 15 Disney on Ice productions.
“In defining Elsa’s movement, I favored long lines and delicate shapes to convey her restraint of power and tentative nature, whereas Anna is spritely and naïvely optimistic, so her movements are more youthful and light.”
Anna and Elsa are joined in their epic adventure by the rugged mountain man Kristoff, his loyal reindeer Sven and, of course, the loveable and hilarious snowman Olaf, along with some mystical trolls.
“We knew that the story, characters and music were the real stars of the show,” says Director Patty Vincent. “Our goal is to showcase these heartwarming characters in a way that allows the audience to cheer and sing along. Everything else needed is to enhance, not detract from their essence.”
That includes the show’s sets, which are carefully designed so they don’t overpower the characters. To create a completely immersive experience, according to the creative team, the set design encompasses the space from the ice surface up through the air, drawing everyone into the story. These sets move around and interact with the performers, explains assistant prop master Michael Barlow.
“My favorite number is “‘Let it Go’,” says Barlow. “I love seeing it from the front of the house, when you can see everyone screaming loudly. It’s also great to experience the moment from backstage too where you hear the roar of the crowd. Either way it gets my adrenalin pumping.”
“Let It Go” is clearly one of the show’s signature moments. Elsa skates solo to the signature song while constructing her ice palace in a flurry of snow.
The show’s other characters also have their big moments. “I love when the Snow Monster comes out and you can hear the kids being like ‘aah’,” Barlow says. In the Olaf scene you can hear all the little boys scream ‘Look Mommy, it’s Olaf’.”
A cavalcade of famous Disney duos and trios also take their turn on ice. Special guests include Timon and Pumbaa of Disney’s “The Lion King” and Marlin, Nemo and Dory from Disney/Pixar’s “Finding Nemo,” along with Ariel, Rapunzel, Cinderella and Snow White.
The production team and performers are caught up in that Disney “magic” just like their audience. “When I was little never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be doing this,” says Barlow, “Disney magic gives people a moment to forget and smile. It makes everyone happy and I’m thankful every day.”
Disney on Ice presents Frozen
When: Thursday through Sunday. Jan. 10-13. Times vary. Tickets start at $30; available at the Nassau Coliseum Box Office, (800) 745-3000 or www.ticketmaster.com.
Where: Nassau Coliseum, Hempstead Turnpike, Uniondale.