Romance and Mystery Novels

by Alina Adams

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Friday, April 21, 2006


In spite -- or maybe because -- of his success with the Disney productions, not everything Kenneth Feld produces turns to ticket-selling gold.

In 1997, he attempted to bring Andrew Lloyd Weber's Broadway musical, Starlight Express, about roller-skating trains, to the ice. On stage, the cast sang their own musical numbers, and roller-skated straight into the audience. On ice, the skaters lip-synched their warbling, and, rather than bringing the show into the audience, brought the audience into the show through four electric flat-bed cars parked right on the edge of the ice. The production was scheduled to tour through the Fall of 1997 and Winter of 1998, but, poor ticket sales (attributed by some to inadequate publicity, by others to a show that came off as "tacky and childish") prompted it to be pulled around Thanksgiving-time.

But, without a doubt, the biggest skating show loser of 1997 had to be the one most associated with the ice-extravaganza. In 1997, Ice Capades finally folded.

Roughly forty million dollars in debt, the show first declared bankruptcy in 1993, when it was bought, with momentous fanfare, by former headliner Dorothy Hamill.

For over a year, with herself as the primary star, Hamill attempted to salvage the institution with family-style productions like Cinderella: Frozen in Time and Hansel & Gretel, The Witch, and The Cat. In 1994, facing personal and financial problems, she sold Ice Capades to International Family Entertainment, which, in turn, was purchased, in August of 1997, by Rupert Murdoch. Who promptly shut down the entire operation.

Ex-Ice Capades manager Dick Palmer told International Figure Skating in December of 1997 that he blamed the tour's decline on all the other skating-show options flooding the marketplace. Ice Capades, which battled to keep ticket prices low so that the whole family might come, just could not keep up.

"There was a point that came along when (Olympic and World) champions became so expensive (to hire). They had their small tours that started getting bigger with Tom Collins and Stars on Ice. (Of course) the competition became greater when they started doing television specials on ice."

Sadly, in the end, the show that conceived of bringing skating to everyone's hometown was killed by the concept's popularity.


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