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‘Pinocchio’ Straps on Skates for 6-Day Stint in San Diego

After the Italian fairy tale “Pinocchio” was transferred to film, there didn’t seem to be any other ways of telling the same story. But Walt Disney Productions didn’t get its name from a guy who was short on imagination, and the folks now running the studio came up with another idea.

Ice theater.

“Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom on Ice” will present its skating version of “Pinocchio” during a 10-show, six-day run, Tuesday through Sunday, at the San Diego Sports Arena. The ice show arrives nearly 50 years after Disney produced the animated version of “Pinocchio” in 1940.

“Pinocchio” is a departure from traditional vaudevillian ice shows, with their musical spectacles and costumed cartoon skits. Disney, which produced “Snow White” as a full-length ice play two years ago, employs the same splashy production techniques as a Broadway show to play up the theatrical aspects of ice skating.

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“Nowadays, people are looking for more continuity in a show,” “Pinocchio” executive producer Kenneth Feld said. “So we’ve come up with a totally new kind of arena attraction.”

In a little more than two hours, skaters tell the story of the woodcarver, Geppetto, who crafts a boy from wood to keep him company. When Geppetto wishes the boy would come to life, his request is answered by the Blue Fairy. She tells Pinocchio he can become a real boy only if he proves himself worthy. With the help of his conscience, Jiminy Cricket, Pinocchio makes his way through adventures designed to test his courage, honesty and altruism.

Disney’s ice version of “Pinocchio” blends such familiar “Pinocchio” movie tunes as “When You Wish Upon a Star” and “Give a Little Whistle,” with themes from other movies and other Broadway shows.

San Diegan Shannon Sowers, 20, skates the role of the Blue Fairy. She began appearing with Magic Kingdom on Ice last year. Another local, Eric Kerr, 25, will perform with partner Toyka Raol of Spokane, Wash., to music from the “Nutcracker” and “Summer of ’42.”

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“Pinocchio” boasts 51 skaters, 147 costumes and 150 props and sets. Skaters in the chorus wear outfits decorated with at least 1,500 sequins, and 2,500 lights illuminate the glittery costumes, which are worn in 462 performances each year during the cast’s 43-week tour.

Disney plans to continue producing ice theater, with “Peter Pan,” “Cinderella” and “Alice in Wonderland” under consideration as possibilities.


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