All photos by Chantelle D’mello
The second rendition of Disney on Ice in Qatar thrilled many audience members last night when it opened at the Qatar National Convention Center, albeit to a smaller crowd than expected.
While last year’s show attracted over 40,000 attendees, with organizers adding an extra show to meet demand, this year’s “Disney on Ice: Rockin Ever After” performance debuted to a range of empty seats in the Silver and Bronze sections.
However, many Qatar residents appear to be opting to wait until the weekend to check out the show, which runs today, Friday and Saturday.
Turnout notwithstanding, the two-hour-long performance was warmly received by many adults and children, some of whom turned up dressed as their favorite Disney princesses and other characters.
“I loved it better than last year, because they have new characters and new stories that I’ve watched,” one eight-year-old child told Doha News after the show.
Other children echoed a similar sentiment, praising the show for featuring contemporary characters like Merida from Brave and Rapunzel from Tangled, along with classic favorites like Ariel from The Little Mermaid, Belle from Beauty and the Beast and the Disney team – Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy.
However, some residents said they were disappointed as story lines that focused on mother-daughter relationships and female empowerment were left out in favor of a more romance-driven show.
Speaking to Doha News, Christina Paschyn, a journalism professor at Northwestern University in Qatar, said:
“If you hadn’t seen Brave at all, you wouldn’t know what it was really about through the show. The way it’s portrayed, it makes it seem that Merida acquiesces to her mother’s demands. It changes the theme of female empowerment to nothing. They leave the ending ambiguous and skimmed over the only feminist story that Disney has put forward.”
Brave, a 2012 collaboration between Disney and Pixar, was one of the first popular animation movies to move away from traditional Disney themes of princesses and their love stories in favor of a self-reliant, fiery protagonist, and a focus on female relationships.
Behind the scenes
The show, which has been performed in the United States for the past two years, was brought to Qatar by local events company Sports and Entertainment Solutions at a cost of a “few millions” of dollars, according to an SES official.
Included in the budget was fees for getting the show, the cost of renting venue, the cost of setting up the show, flights for all cast and crew, shipping charges for the equipment and costumes and props and hotel stay for all involved.
The show was held in Dubai prior to Qatar, and will move on to Poland soon after.
It features 40 ice skaters on a rink built specifically for the show. The ice floor – including panels – weighs around 140,000 pounds, uses around 48,000 liters of water and took over 400 man hours to assemble, install, and take apart.
Speaking to Doha News yesterday, Kim Becker, 24, a performer with Disney on Ice for the past six years, explained how she came to work with the show:
“I have been skating my whole life. At 18, when I finished off high school, I wanted to take a gap year. So my skating coach at the time suggested that I try out for Disney on Ice. I sent in an audition tape, and was called in for a live audition a few weeks later, and have worked with them ever since.”
To train for this show, dancers, aged 18 to 45 years old, had a six week intensive training camp in Florida to learn the choreography and get fitted for costumes.
The costumes designed for the show took months to create, and feature Swarovski crystals, leather, and organic materials sourced from certain countries.
“For the Brave segment, we imported cloth from Scotland, to give it an authentic feel,” said Michael Lavin, a member of the crew in charge of maintaining the show’s 800-plus costumes.
He added that certain sartorial amendments like adding additional layers of lining and sleeves were made to ensure that the costumes adhered to the local culture and were family-friendly.
Lanvin also said that equipment and costumes are shipped by sea or transported by land in 16 large containers.
The show also features around 200 props, including specially created frying pans for the Tangled segment, and fire torches for the Beauty and the Beast past.
To keep up with the demands of the show, performers follow a daily exercise regimen along with “open ice” training sessions after shows to perfect their skills.
For those who plan to go to the performances this weekend, keep in mind the following:
- Parking. There is a drop-off option for parking, but most people appeared to be walking from their cars to the show. It’s a long walk, especially with children, so make sure you have your walking shoes on!
- Food. Snacks and refreshments are sold at the venue, but some are at a particularly high markup (a box of popcorn for example costs QR30). There are also croissants, hot beverages, sandwiches, chicken nuggets, cotton candy, etc.
- Climate. It’s a bit drafty in the show (which is on ice, after all), so be sure to bring a cardigan.
Do you plan to see the show? Thoughts?