Reviewed by Louise Jones
Reviewed at FlyDSA Arena, Sheffield
Playing at London’s O2 Arena from 20th – 30th December
The world leader in creating childhood memories, Disney has an amazingly transformative power: it makes you feel like a kid again. The last time I saw Disney on Ice was fourteen years ago but with fluid choreography, flying feats and inflatable villains this is a show to enchant the family and provide nostalgia in buckets.
The show spans savannah, sea, city and snow as we’re treated to abridged productions of The Lion King, Peter Pan, The Little Mermaid and Frozen. The latter’s possibly the most anticipated, if the sheer volume of tiny Annas and Elsas in attendance are anything to go by.
Dancers are finely choreographed to pull off all range of moves, making up for any sparser set pieces. Each story comes with its own technical flair: Peter Pan soaring from the balcony of the Darling household to an iced Neverland makes for a wonderful touch. Audience interaction is given an original twist when children are invited into a submarine, and guided through the “Under the Sea” dance number. This calypso celebration is packed with colour and joy: it’s a highlight of the production…until the final story of the show.
Frozen took the world by storm, and its lasting effects are clear as the arena erupts into cheers on Anna’s entrance (Elsa and Olaf too, of course). The rink is transformed with an elaborate backdrop, the Nordic style best suited to the surface. Elsa’s powers here are realised through sparks of light: it’s a bizarre contrast with the ice all around but with a suspension of disbelief it is nonetheless enchanting as anything. Having been encouraged to sing along, the crowd is alive with music as we all join Elsa for a chorus of “Let It Go”, and here’s where – despite its 2013 release – I felt ten years old all over again: Elsa runs up the stairs within her palace, belting a final note as the platform reaches to the sky. Pure magic.
True, there’s a lack of extended villainy (more’s the pity, I could see a lot more of inflatable Ursula) and younger audience members might want to rewatch the older titles on offer today (or at the very least, Youtube “You Can Fly” and “Follow the Leader”). For an early Christmas treat though, younger and older kids alike are bound to love every minute.
Louise Jones likes writing plays with big musical numbers at the end and is part of a family-friendly improv troupe. You can find links to more of her reviews on her portfolio or by following @lweez_j.