If it’s winter school holidays in Melbourne then Disney On Ice is in town. This year’s show is Mickey & Minnie’s Amazing Journey, a collection of scenes from five well-loved Disney stories. Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck and Goofy loosely tie the proceedings together and start by taking us on a safari in the African Savannah to The Lion King.
Familiar characters make an appearance and there are several large dance numbers with swirling ensembles and simple, but effective choreography that maximizes the large ice stage. Pumbaa and Rafiki join forces with Charleston-dancing monkeys to evoke the jungle before we are whisked off to London to meet the wicked Cruella De Vil and the adorable dalmation pups. Each flanked by life-size stuffed dalmations, the skaters turn themselves into not one, but three dogs, creating a burst of black and white spots and plenty of captivating movement. Similarly, under the sea in The Little Mermaid, a myriad of sea creatures including sea horses, crabs and various fish make a chorus line of marine life. With rarely a dead moment, the first act works well for its constant use of song and dance. The lyrics are familiar to the young audience members and the corresponding actions and costumes (designed by Patricia Vincent) remain captivating to all sides of the massive arena.
Act II changes pace with two extended sections featuring Peter Pan and Lilo & Stitch. While there is more time spent building up the narrative action and drama and more lavish sets, including a flying rig for Peter Pan, this half of the show misses the zip and perk of the first half’s medley of tunes. From Captain Hook’s pirate ship to the Hawaiian locale of Lilo & Stitch, no expense is spared on production or sets. But it feels a bit flatter than the first half since voice-over and pedestrian action, rather than music and choreography, are the focus in these re-enactments.
The principal skaters, hailing from Canada, Australia, America and Holland are consistently strong while the ensemble could occasionally use some tightening up in the larger numbers. Overall though, the show has enough razzle-dazzle and spectacular offerings to keep the kids (and many adults) happy.
Previous years allowed for a big stage rush at the end, with children running to shake hands and pose with characters. This built an exciting, feel-good finale to the afternoon. None of that happens in this show, which is a bit of shame, as it leaves proceedings more impersonal and slightly icy (pardon the pun!). The only way to get close to Mickey and Co. is at the impossible-to-miss merchandising booths which boldly surround each of the venue’s many exits.
Disney On Ice
Mickey & Minnie’s Amazing Journey
Venue: Rod Laver Arena
Dates: 2 – 7 Jul 2008
Tickets: $21.50 - $54.50
Bookings: Ticketek 132 839 or www.ticketek.com.au