Try to understand what it is like to be a six-year old girl whose biggest dream is to wear sparkly dresses and do jumps and spins on ice skates; that’s what it feels like to be Victoria Baker every time she steps into the spotlight with the rest of the Disney On Ice skaters.
It feels like magic.
Ice skating has been part of Baker’s world a long time. Since she was five in fact, growing up in New Hampshire. After a dozen years of steadfast devotion to her craft, countless hours of practice and grueling amateur competitions while forsaking other more leisurely pursuits her peers were enjoying, the now 25-year-old Baker caught her break in 2013 with Feld Entertainment, producers of the Disney On Ice spectacle.
Fast forward to 2019. Baker is an established ensemble member with the touring group, including the current “ Road Trip Adventure,” scheduled for performances at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum, next week, Nov. 21-30.
The latest production in Disney’s long succession of popular ice shows, it keeps to the successful formula that makes the spectacle a hit with devoted fans.
It’s a ‘”fully immersive, multigenerational show,” according to the creative team, featuring a huge LED screen, acrobats, aerial acts, and scenes from beloved Disney stories past and present.
The settings are dazzling. In one showcase moment, one of the lead skaters explores the depths of her power as her palace rises from the ice (with the use of scrims created by flexible LED panels) and aerialists transform into human snowflakes within a double lyra.
Setting the stage for the full cast of nearly 50 performers is the supportive team of the 10-plus crew members who build the sets, and “ make sure the ice is good and ready for us,” notes Baker. “In some cases the arena doesn’t always have an ice floor, then we have to put one in.”
As for the individual skaters, there’s more involved than just the technical prowess and athleticism. Make-up and costume demands can be quite challenging in the world of Disney. “The Lion King portion has the most interesting fantastic costumes,” says Baker. “I play a zebra in that. They strap a big backpack costume on me, kind of like skating with your kid sister on your back. It’s fun.”
In keeping with Disney on Ice tradition, the show involves the audience as much as possible. For this edition, the cast moves through the audience, inviting participation. Families step into the spotlight to “ride with Mickey” as the show follows a narrative path through exotic locales.
And no matter where you are sitting, participatory elements are built into the production, such as in-audience dance moments, a show-stopping version of Road Trip Karaoke and Toy Story 4 carnival games that everyone in the audience plays.
“As a parent, I know how valuable time with your kids is and how increasingly more challenging it has become to not only carve out that time, but also to make those moments as memorable as possible,” says Executive Vice President and Feld Entertainment Producer Nicole Feld. “That’s why with this production, we wanted to design an atmosphere where families come together and interact with the performance to create something truly special.”
“Road Trip Adventures encourages everyone to disconnect from their daily lives to reconnect with one another,” adds Patty Vincent, Disney On Ice creative director, who a graduate of the ensemble she now guides. “The arena is our canvas, and we use that space to create a 360-degree experience that brings the heart of the show closer to families by stretching the performance area beyond the ice into the air and into the audience.”
The show’s two-year, 60-city tour premiered in Orlando, Fla. in September.
“We had six weeks workshopping the show, learning the technical elements, then six weeks intensive rehearsal,” says Baker. “It was wonderful, after a long rehearsal to finally open it.”
And, of course, as anyone who knows Disney on Ice, the production is enthusiastically welcomed at every stop on the tour.
It’s big. It’s magic. It’s Disney.
But it’s something much more powerful and intimate than that.
Because when Baker and the ensemble she is part of take center stage at Nassau Coliseum shortly — you can bet your ice skates on it — there will be at least one wide-eyed six-year-old in the audience who will discover, for the first time in her heart, that dreams really do come true.
Disney on Ice presents 'Road Trip Adventures'
When: Thursday through Saturday, Nov. 21-30. Times vary. Tickets start at $25; available at the Nassau Coliseum Box Office, (800) 745-3000 or www.ticketmaster.com or www.disneyonice.com/road-trip-adventures.
Where: Nassau Coliseum, Hempstead Turnpike, Uniondale.