The Walt Disney Co. likes to say that its entertainment offerings, be they theme-park attractions, Disney-branded films or Broadway shows, are fun for the whole family.
That marketing-friendly slogan is debatable, of course, depending on the entertainment on offer. But with the latest Disney On Ice show, produced as usual by Feld Entertainment, that statement rings true. In fact (and don't tell your children) this newest ice show, "Dare to Dream," might be a hair more entertaining to adults.
Cinderella and Prince Charming to "This Is Love" and Rapunzel and Flynn to "I See the Light."
Watching "Cinderella" demonstrates that a simple story works best on the ice. Everyone knows the songs, the stepsisters provide comic relief (and lots of deliberate falls), and in a dashing solo turn Prince Charming shows more charisma than in the film.
That traditional story is bookended by Disney's latest animated features, "The Princess and the Frog" and "Tangled."
New Orleans-set "Princess and the Frog" has strong, horn-infused music that immediately energizes proceedings, and Tiana's spunky optimism comes through not only in her skating but in her posture and delightful facial expressions. The group numbers have an almost Broadway-like choreography with kick lines, fans and some serious sass. Fun stuff.
The "Tangled" sequences feature extended aerial work by Flynn and Rapunzel, using beautiful gold silks that evoke Rapunzel's famed hair as they slide along the arena roof and drop to the ground. Kids will think it looks cool; adults will appreciate the hard work of "flying" — all the more impressive when they drop back to the ice and continue skating.
The comic set piece of "Tangled," musical number "I've Got a Dream," set in a rundown pub full of ruffians, translates into a funny free-for-all on the ice. And the lighting technique for that segment's finale — when the beautiful lanterns are launched into the sky — is strikingly beautiful.
Kids may wish the modern films weren't quite as talky, and that Mickey and Minnie had longer appearances (they merely bookend the stories). Adults, note that the villains — while effectively creepy — have limited ice time, and the emphasis is clearly on fun. The scariest sight is a group of skeleton-masked skaters, seen briefly during the "Princess and Frog" villain scene.
The skating takes place in front of a nifty set piece that turns from an old Bourbon Street mansion to a beautiful palace to Rapunzel's tower.
The show only truly stumbles at its conclusion — but it's a mighty fall. Advance publicity billed the finale as "the ultimate princess event of a lifetime," and fair enough, it seems as though everyone from Snow White to the Little Mermaid fills the rink, along with their princes.
But they are all dressed in white and gold, perhaps pleasing to an adult designer but not the colorful, well-known costumes children want to see. Worse, the couples are forced into out-of-character choreography to one of those bland, modern Disney pop songs that eviscerates the fairy-tale mood. Does anyone really want to see Cinderella try to get down and disco?
You might have to go home and pop in the DVD of "Tangled" to regain that loving feeling.
firstname.lastname@example.org or 407-420-5038
•What: 'Disney on Ice: Dare to Dream'
•When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 9; 3:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 10; 1 and 5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11
•Where: Amway Center, 400 W. Church St., Orlando
•Tickets: $15-$25; $35 VIP; $50 front row