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Saturday, December 16, 2000

‘Disney on Ice’
substantial fare
for children

Bullet Disney on Ice
Bullet Shows: Today and tomorrow, 3:30 and 7:30 p.m.; Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 20-21, 3:30 and 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 22-23, noon, 3:30 and 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 24, noon and 3:30 p.m.; and Dec. 25, 1 and 4:30 p.m.

By John Berger
Special to the Star-Bulletin

When even preschool children seem to be swamped in the pop culture of teen sexpot Britney Spears and "Who Let the Dogs Out," it's great to see them also enjoying the more innocent entertainment offered by "Disney on Ice" at the Blaisdell Arena.

There were empty seats last night, but the crowd appeared to consist almost entirely of young kids and their parents or grandparents. There isn't much here for adults other than the beautifully choreographed skating, but the skating alone makes it more substantial than much kiddie fare these days. Preschoolers and kids only a year or two out of kindergarten will love it.

Mickey Mouse gets things started. Minnie, Donald, Daisy and Goofy join him to introduce tales of "The Little Mermaid," "The Jungle Book" and "Cinderella." Cruella De Vil's bumbling dognappers make several ill-starred comic appearances before the big "101 Dalmatians" finale.

Costumes create most of the best special effects. A dragon-size python that glides majestically over the ice, the sea witch's ship and the demon king from "Fantasia" are three of the best. Bubbles and lighting create a sense of being "Under the Sea," and monkey puppets drop from the light grid to add off-ice action during a "Jungle Book" song. Judging by the response last night, Sebastian the Crab and the 101 Dalmatians were the most popular characters.

Cast members are not identified during the show, and no complimentary program or cast list is provided show-goers, but a souvenir program credited Katy Griffitts (Ariel) and Matthew Buttrey (Prinz Erik) as the couple whose superbly synchronized pas de deux was the romantic and technical highlight of last night's show.

Anyone interested in skating should sit down front. Key elements of the pas de deux numbers and the excellent physical comedy routines of the evil stepsisters in "Cinderella" can't be seen from the loges. Preschoolers don't care about sight lines and probably didn't notice a malfunctioning monkey or the problems with Cinderella's carriage last night.

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