This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
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What is Good About America and Humanity as a Whole
On March 3rd, I had the opportunity to go with my family (parents, brothers, sister-in-law, niece, and nephew) to see Disney On-Ice at the Console Energy Center. The reason I had the opportunity to go was because one of my sister-in-laws could not get off work and the family had an extra ticket. In addition, they wanted an extra set of hands to take care of the kids on the trip. Normally, I would not drive to Pittsburgh in a snow storm to watch a children’s ice skating event, but in this case I am glad I did. Disney On-Ice was a technically complex performance of highly skilled athletes underscored by an amazing story for the children.
Set Politics Aside
In recent years, Disney has become slightly liberal, causing many arch-conservatives to shy away from this American icon (ironic since they are still wearing the Camping World fleeces and sipping their Starbuck’s Coffee). While I do not support some of their political ideals (which they mostly downplay), I do support their message of individual exceptionalism and of inclusivity. This show was not labored with any of the political tropes, whether they were liberal or conservative. The entire ensemble were skilled an put on an amazing performance with no political indoctrination! Amazing for entertainment today.
Let the Show Begin
The story was a classic story of friendship. Captain Hook had stolen Tinkerbell’s magic wand and locked her in her lampshade prison from the movie. Mickey and his friends found out about this and tasked themselves with freeing the classic Disney fairy and setting things right. They had to do this with the power of friendship, which was the vehicle for the individual segments. While all the segments were amazing, here are some comments from me on the individual “acts” along with some commentary from a special guest contributor, my niece Avonelle. (Her comments are italicized.)
Beauty and the Beast
In this “tale as old as time” we see the introductory scene between Belle and the Beast, while it stops short of the Beast actually coming to the dining hall, the scene was an amazing depiction of the memories from the movie (the original). Coggsworth and Lumiere had their delightful banter as they skated around, the ensemble dressed as flatware and dishes skated in pattern drawing the audience’s attention to Belle skating talent.
This segment brings forth a good message that we need to help people when we are able. Too often, we have seen that this message drowned in political rhetoric, but we do have the ability to help one person, as an individual. This is something that is totally within our control and we can make the world a better place when we help the hungry, give the homeless a little warmth or event just support someone that feels alone. Mickey and his friends found the rose, and a little bit of the magic that would free Tinkerbell.
Avonelle: It was very neat when the silverware danced around the ice.
Next, Mickey and his pals went into the world of Toy Story. While I have seen the movie, it was a little after my time so I had “half-watched” it with my niece and nephew at some point. The premise of this skit was that when the toys were getting out of the box, the bounced a ball up on the shelf. Of course if the ball was up on the shelf, Andy, their owner, would know something was amiss. The “lead” skaters in this section were the famous characters from the movie: Woody, Jessie, Buzz, Orson (the pig), T-Rex, and Bo-Peep.
Their individual skating and working the crowd was excellent. The real stars of the scene were the gymnasts, dressed as the green army men, who did amazing aerial acrobatics, flipping through the air, on-ice! The message of this segment is that with teamwork, you can achieve anything. We are stronger together than we are apart and that sometimes you need to ask for a little help from your friends.
Avonelle: I liked it when they bounced the ball on the screen, then it was a real ball and I got to bounce it through the crowd.
Moana was another film that was a little after my time. The scene was from the two main points in the movie. The first main point (split) is when Moana realizes that she is an individual and her life is her own. This is where she embarks on her person journey to find herself. During the course of this segment, the ensemble skates as the wind representing the wind in her sails.
The next scene is the scene where Moana meets the Rock, I mean Maui. In this scene, we see the actor who plays Maui dance skate tot he song “You’re Welcome.” The scene ends when Moana defeats the “bad guy” by giving her back her heart and making the world a better place. She does this by overcoming her fears and realizing she is an amazing person being herself. This segment shows the value of self belief and challenging yourself.
Avonelle: I liked her singing.
Coco is a movie that I have not seen yet. I am not familiar with the story. The skating and acrobatics in this section were very good. Of note were the young ladies who worked on, what I assume are called, flex poles. This aerial show was amazing. There was not a lot of talking. I did not pick up the lesson here, but visually this was one of the most interesting parts of the show.
Avonelle: I liked the girls dancing and swinging around on the sticks.
The Little Mermaid
This and Aladdin were two of the segments that I most understood. These were the big movies when I was young so they really reached out to me as a child. The messaging in this skit was that love is important in your life and finding your way in life is better with friends. The songs for this section were well done by the cast and the aerial parts of the show were highly technical. The costumes for the ensemble were also very well done.
Avenelle: I really liked the bubbles floating down but I didn’t get to touch any one them.
So Aladdin’s message was “you can do it yourself…” which kind of followed the movie. Aladdin uses his wishes to get things that do not help him win over the princess. She falls in love with him when he is himself. The dancing in this section was interesting, using hover boards on ice, which I imagine, was quite difficult. While the cast was amazing, I think this section would have went over better earlier in the show as the children were starting to get tired. Also, they did not relate to Aladdin because it was an older movie.
Avonelle: I liked the genie coming out of the lamp, and it was cool how he moved across the ice.
As with all Disney productions, they blew the doors off with the final skit. Starting with the ice-cutters harvesting ice, the skit developed Kristoff meeting Anna and then meeting Olaf to find Elsa. They stayed away from the odd story of Anna falling in love very quickly, to the empowerment of Elsa. When the actress started singing “Let it Go” the audience went crazy, and it was a very good performance. Overall, the message of independence and individual success was well brought across.
Avonelle: I liked Anna and Elsa dancing to the music.
The production staff of this show were amazing, every bit of what you expect from a Disney experience. The emcees were energetic and kept the children in the crowd pumped up. The pirates played their parts quite well and were excellent comic relief. Mickey, Donald, Minnie and Goofy brought the kids to their feet. Perhaps the best part was how the actors got the children involved in the production, really making it a Disney experience for them. Completing the Disney experience, almost all of the souvenirs were expensive, but you expect that at these types of events.
Avonelle: I liked Mickey and Minnie, Donald, and Goofy filling the questions out and filling the magic meter and getting Tinkerbell out of the lantern.
Refreshing Respite from Politics
Overall, this was an excellent performance. At right about two hours, the cast kept the children entertained and the adults even let a few “ooohs” and “ahhhhs” escape. It was refreshing to be in a zone where politics were left aside, just for a moment, where children could once again be children finding the magic in happiness and seeing their favorite characters come to life. The messages of friendship, individuality, and kindness are messages that all people can agree on.
While very rarely in this world of political hate speech, divided parties, and international scares do we have a moment where entertainers do what they do best and bring happiness to people of all ages with good clean fun for the whole family. If you have children or are a child at heart, this is a good program to take your family to see.