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Imperial Ice Stars - 'Sleeping Beauty on Ice'

Frozen Fairy Tale

by Kate Snedeker

March 2, 2005 -- Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, Scotland

Usually the domain of ballet shoes and bare feet, the Edinburgh Festival Theatre stage was transformed into an ice rink for Imperial Ice Stars' "Sleeping Beauty on Ice".  Led by Olympic silver medalist Mandy Woetzel, the cast skimmed, soared and leapt through a colorful and creative retelling of the classic fairy tale.

In order to accommodate the ice-skating and acrobatics, the show was based around relatively simple sets.  However, this provided a rare opportunity to see the whole expanse of the large Festival Theatre stage used.  And the three sets - the palace, Carabosse's lair and the forest - switched smoothly, moving the story from one locale to another with a minimum of disruption.

The classic story of "Sleeping Beauty" was tweaked in order to best fit the needs of skating based production, giving additional scenes to Carabosse and her evil lackeys.  Set in her misty, cobweb-strewn lair, these were the most spectacular scenes, with action packed skating by the black clad insect-like lackeys.  Carabosse even soared over the stage on a wire, spreading her brand of evil magic.

The 23 strong cast were impressive, both in singles and pairs skills.  There were even some unique twists on traditional skating, most amazingly the butterfly on skate-stilts.  Perched nearly two feet up, the elegant skater glided smoothly around the stage, even completing a balanced scratch spin.  In the dance of the fairies, two fairies engaged in a flowing pas de deux, connected by scarves wrapped around their skates.

The well conceived choreography used every inch of the ice, with several skaters, most notably Catalabutte, completing airy double jumps, and there were several clever allusions to the balletic origins of the production.  Particularly striking was the pas de deux between the pointe shoe clad Lilac Fairy and her Cavalier, performed almost entirely with the fairy in the air.

The show's star, Mandy Woetzel, was limited to two major scenes, one in the first act and one in the second.  Yet, with the support of the strong male skaters in the show, she put on a display of impressive pairs skills, including twist lifts, throw jumps and gasp inducing one handed lifts.

With such innovative choreography, talented skaters and elegant sets, it was a shame that the otherwise faultless, taped score was amplified to a near headache inducing volume. Lowering the volume just slightly would have allowed the audience to enjoy Tchaikovsky's score without wincing at every high notes and crescendo.  Also, improvements could be made in some of costumes, which unfortunately seemed to be influenced by the current ice-dancing craze for bits of fabric sewn willy-nilly all over.  Simpler, though not necessarily less intricately decorated costumes, would allow the skaters long, stretched lines to be more visible and also give the production more elegance.

Edited by Staff.


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