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Friday, February 03, 2006 | Parentally Incorrect
Growing up in La Mesa, I had a fairly normal childhood. I went to school, ate breakfast, wore Toughskins jeans from Sears but I always knew there was one thing that made my family different from the others: We didn’t go to ice shows.
Every year, Disney On Ice would come with a new show and every year, my family didn’t attend. I suppose it wasn’t that big a deal but I always felt different when the ice shows would come around and the next day a lot of the kids would wave merchandise and programs under my nose.
My dad died before I had a chance to ask him, “How come we never went to ice shows?” and, frankly, there are probably other unanswered questions with a higher priority.
Still, when Alex was born, I swore she would have many of things I didn’t and ice shows were high up on the list. I believe my exact quote was, “As God is my witness, I’ll never miss Disney ice shows again.”
You see, to me, a Disney movie isn’t really a movie until it’s recreated on an ice rink by a group of costumed skaters. So when the new Disney On Ice version of Finding Nemo swam into town earlier this week, I felt compelled to take my family to the IPayOne Center to have a look.
As an investigative journalist, I am always checking to see if things are as promised and I can say without hesitation that Finding Nemo On Ice does indeed take place on ice.
My mother-in-law loves figure skating but, personally, I feel it takes greater athleticism to be an ice dancer in one of these shows because you not only have to skate around but you have to do it in cumbersome costumes and act out the role.
To that end, I was impressed by the skaters who were inhabiting the roles of Nemo’s father, Marlin, and his friend, Dory. They really put their whole bodies into the characters (which isn’t easy when you have a giant fish face on your chest).
The stagecraft is impressive. The sets managed to convey both the deep wide ocean and a cramped aquarium while allowing the skaters to, well, skate. And the costumes cleverly allow the audience to see their favorite film characters as well as the actors doing them.
Since a lot of the audience are young’uns seeing their first stage show of any kind, it’s this kind of simultaneous illusion building and busting that may inspire kids to put on their own ice shows (or other plays) in the future.
My daughter Alex enjoyed the show but, for some reason, she kept asking what was going on even though she’s seen Finding Nemo a few hundred times.
Because I was denied the joys of ice shows as a youth, I didn’t realize how popular they were. We attended opening night and it was packed. There was a big audience and the security was very thorough in order to prevent any kind of contraband.
I’ve attended rock shows there where it was easy to sneak stuff in (not that I did) and it got me curious as to what kind of person sneaks in a flask to Finding Nemo On Ice.
It also got me looking for that person just in case he or she could give me a swig.
The tickets for the show aren’t cheap but the entertainment value is there. I’d like to think the people around me were slightly entertained by my numerous refusals to Alex as to why I wasn’t going to buy any merchandise.
And since she is currently suffering from a case of the “Whys” (a common two-year-old ailment), the conversation went like this.
“I’m not paying 10 bucks for a snow cone in a fish shaped cup.”
Anyway, it went on even longer than that but you get the picture. A lot of adults get annoyed by this game but I frankly love the verbal sparring and repartee (even though it becomes an endless loop).
Once the ice show ended, we headed for the car and although Alex was tired, I felt like I had done my job by giving her (and me) a little culture.
Finding Nemo On Ice will be in town until Sunday and it has me thinking about the untapped potential of the ice musical in general.
Because it’s so family friendly, it gets ghettoized like another great art form, animation, but I am now setting my sights on bringing the ice show to a new level of maturity.
After I finish this, I am writing another letter to Feld Entertainment, the company that handles all the Disney On Ice shows, suggesting they try slightly more arty films for future shows.
In fact, in my head, I am currently choreographing ice-inspired versions of “The Grapes of Wrath,” “Brokeback Mountain,” “Full Metal Jacket” and “Blue Velvet.”
Reserve your tickets now.
David Moye is a La Mesa-based writer who has been skating on thin ice since he started writing this column. You can reach him at