Review: Disney on Ice – Find Your Hero, AO Arena, Manchester
Mickey has brought his Premier League players to the rink for this year’s iteration of the Disney on Ice juggernaut.
After a couple of recent productions that had some more Championship-level sections (today’s six-year-olds don’t want a lengthy re-enactment of Peter Pan), 2021 is all about the big guns. Belle and the Beast; Moana; the inevitable Elsa and Anna. Rapunzel (from the movie Tangled) could have been benched, but in general this was a snappy parade of household names that ticked many boxes on the wish lists of young audience members.
We even got to see the Little Mermaid twirl and spin above the ice on a rope, which presumably was entirely so that reviewers could deploy puns about Aerial acrobatics.
If this hour and a half or so of brassy fun consisted entirely of the big group numbers, Under the Sea with its joyful seahorse costumes or Be Our Guest (because who doesn’t love an ice-skating tea pot?), we’d be looking at a five-star gig. The solo and duet numbers which involve some quality skating, notably Let It Go, are also well worth a watch.
What lets this production down, as in previous years, are the extended passages where performers are forced to circle around the ice listlessly while miming to sections of the relevant film’s dialogue. It’s unclear what purpose these parts serve. A little bit of chat to connect the dots between musical numbers is perhaps necessary, and someone out there must enjoy even the longer conversations, but in our part of the arena they were a cue for children to squirm and count their remaining sweets.
Whenever the music started up again, however, they were back in the game, delighted by the fake snow falling on their fancy dress costumes, cheering like loyal fans at Frozen’s Olaf and belting out the anthems with a collective gusto to rival the best football crowds. Disney on Ice is easy to be sniffy about and will always be a bit cringe for some. The gender politics of so many ice-skating princesses are not exactly inspiring, however many times you refer to them as ‘heroes’, and it would be wonderful if someone could dial it down with the expensive merch.
But if you can reach your seat with your finances intact and have a chat with your daughter about careers in astrophysics on the way home, this is an uncomplicatedly jolly family afternoon out. If they stripped out the waffly bits it could be table-topping.
Disney on Ice is on tour around the UK. For more information, or to book tickets, click here.
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