Skating, singing aim to bring new layers to Peter Pan story

By Rick Kennedy, managing editor
Last year, a mid-afternoon Sunday crowd of hundreds at Hempstead Hall were treated to the unusual sight “ice skating” in the extravaganza that was “Skatetacular Dreams on Ice.”  The synthetic “ice stage” was as much a star as anything as the 11 central performers glided around the Hempstead Hall stage with all the ease and style of Olympic skaters seen on television.
The familiar tale of Peter Pan, now gets the theatre-on-ice Broadway treatment as the Southwest Arts Council brings Neverland to the Hempstead Hall stage on Friday, February 22 at 7 p.m. with a special mid-morning program for students at 10 a.m. earlier the same day.
This time, the Hope performance will kickoff a 20-show run over the next two months for the Orlando, Florida-based Ice Creative Entertainment, which is the presenting agency for “Peter Pan & Friends On Ice.”
SWAAC Executive Director George Smith noted that “The show will have the Hempstead Hall stage for the entire week preceding the first performance for practicing the show.”
Smith said, “The show includes a custom soundtrack, elaborate costumes and sets, as well as state of the art ‘projection mapping’, a new technology used to turn objects into a display surface for video, including buildings or other backgrounds inherent to the story theme.”
In many ways, there will be that familiarly to the “Skatetacular Dreams on Ice,” last year where singing, clever special effects, athleticism, and colorful costumes were all presented in a brisk and entertaining one-hour show.
And, similar to the 11-member cast for Skatetacular, “Peter Pan” will have a 10-person cast, including Chase Belmontes, national and international figure skating champion, Billboard country star Linde Lachance, Cirque Du Soliel alumnus Nate James, Canadian national ice skating medalist Spencer Barnes, and an international circus artist Lain Velasco among the performers.
And then, there is the matter of the “Synthetic Ice,” which makes the magic of skating happen on a stage like the Hempstead Hall theater’s.
Stage producers for last year’s “Skatetacular” said the “Ice” was a synthetic hard plastic, not unlike a kitchen cutting board, with an oil-like lubricant applied, which enables the simulation of “ice skating” with actual skating blades worn by performers.
One of the stars and skaters from the “Skatetacular,” Catherine League performed in Hope last year as both a trained Broadway singer and ice skater. She said, “Yes, the plastic ice; it is kind of strange, but it very much feels like ice skating on real ice. You would be surprised how many people we fool with that, still thinking it is real ice.”
“As a skater, it takes a little more leg power because the plastic still behaves a bit differently than ice; it is much firmer, but anything you can do on ice, you can do on that plastic. But, there is none of that cool breeze that you get from the ice itself,” she said.

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