Romance and Mystery Novels

by Alina Adams

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Thursday, April 13, 2006


In the early 1990s, as Stars on Ice, Skating, and Champions on Ice cashed in on the sport's post Tonya/Nancy popularity, customers looking for more traditional ice-show touring fare had Walt Disney's World on Ice, which purchased Ice Follies and went into business with producer Kenneth Feld.

Feld mounted Wizard of Oz, staring 1987 U.S. Junior Champion Jeri Campbell, and, with Disney, was the live show producer on Beauty and the Beast with Maradith Feinberg and Craig Horowitz, and Aladdin with Cynthia Coull, Jamie Eggleton and 1979 U.S. Junior Men's Champion, Jimmy Santee.

Adhering to Hollywood's tradition of replacing Broadway originators with movie-star names when a show changed from stage to screen (Audrey Hepburn for Julie Andrews in My Fair Lady, Richard Harris for Richard Burton in Camelot, Madonna for Patti LuPone in Evita) on television, the lead role in The Wizard of Oz was skated by Oksana Baiul, Beauty and the Beast by Ekaterina Gordeeva and Viktor Petrenko, and Aladdin by Kristi Yamaguchi and Kurt Browning.

The latter, a one-hour special for CBS, was taped entirely on location in Cairo, Egypt. Producer Steve Binder was determined to show as much of the countryside as possible, since the last thing he wanted was to go through all the expense of moving company and crew to North Africa, only to end up with an ice-show that looked like it could have been staged on an L.A. lot. That's why his opening montage featured Kristi and Kurt atop a camel riding towards the Pyramids, as well as shots by the Nile and along an outdoor bazaar. Considering the ancient beauty of the country and the setting of Aladdin, it was easy to see why these shots were necessary.

It was less easy to figure out why Princess Jasmine and her heroic street urchin were running through all these picturesque locations wearing skates, or why their indoor routines were constantly being interrupted by shots from the movie, breaking the flow of the action, and playing up the fact that neither Kristi nor Kurt looked anything like the Disney drawings.

Shooting an ice-show is difficult on any location, but, in a Muslim country, complications came from the strict edict forbidding the wearing of tight-fitting tops, revealing skirts, or sleeveless shirts for the women, plus the presence of locals, hired as extras, who had never seen sheets of ice before, and kept staring at it in wonder. Joked Browning, "They were a good audience, because their expectation of ice was putting it in their drinks."

With the success of the above, Disney added Hercules and The Spirit of Pocahontas, starring Joanna Ng, who, in 1991, at the age of twelve, was the youngest-ever winner of Skate Canada. In keeping with the movie's hit song, Colors of the Wind, eight pair teams plus seven male skaters, each dressed in a distinctive shade, were used to anthropomorphize the invisible element.

For rendering Toy Story to the ice, difficulties popped up in finding methods to bring huge toys to convincing life, including two people to expand and contract Slinky Dog, and a skating Mr. Potato Head who can pull his face off at will. Also, unlike the other projects, Toy Story was not a musical, and it's solitary female character was Bo Peep. So, in spite of the historic image of ice-shows as starring chorus line after chorus line of gorgeous girls in skimpy outfits, except for a brief stint as space-sirens, the women of Toy Story come out dressed as either soldiers, Martians, or commandos.


  • At February 25, 2008 5:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Joanna Ng recently put up a website,, and just finished a season with Broadway on Ice.


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