A large silver podium glides effortlessly around the ice before positioning itself right in the centre of the rink. On it is a man seated in his armchair and an old cine film projector. High up on the wall we see images of family, friends, holidays, times spent with loved ones and more special moments which Holiday on Ice use as an illustration to introduce us to their stunning new show, Time.
Of course, when it comes to Time, the Holiday on Ice team are experts. When their first show opened, in Ohio on Christmas Day 1943, Franklin D. Roosevelt was America’s President, Winston Churchill was our Prime Minister and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones was just a baby!
Over 70 years later the team, which includes Creative Director and Choreographer, David Liu, his assistant Joanna Ng, and Musical Coordinator Diederik van Middelkoop, have skillfully created a performance that offers superbly technical skating and amazing lighting effects backed up by a musical score which uses well known songs as well as original compositions.
When the full company take to the ice there are almost 30 people jumping, turning and travelling at breakneck speed around the ice and so the choreography, in the bigger numbers, is relatively safe, but when it is the turn of any of the eight Principals to show off their incredible talent, the moves are much more intricate and are dangerous enough to produce audible gasps from everyone in the opening night audience.
Americans Mauro Bruni and Danielle Endow are the main soloists in Time, with both of them displaying incredibly technical moves which really emphasise the awesome power and grace of ice skating. With backing tracks like As Time Goes By, Fever and Come Fly With Me, the tone is seriously “Old School” and the swing beat means that the full company crossover skating, whilst fairly simple, has the added danger of speed thrown in.
The gasps from the audience usually accompany performances by the pairs skaters. Frenchman Yannick Bonheur shows off his tremendous strength when lifting his German partner Annette Dytrt high into the air and, at one point, spinning her at an incredible speed – while she is balanced on his head.
Ukranians Stanislav Vederski and Viktoria Maksiuta are another pair who show just how much teamwork goes into their performances with his powerful arms picking her up and swinging her round with split second precision, missing the solid ice by just millimetres in the death-defying “Headbanger” move.
Act two brings more well known numbers, starting with Dolly Parton’s Nine to Five which provides the backdrop for a Holiday on Ice tradition – “The Wheel”, followed closely by more modern songs like Britney Spears’ Circus, Coldplay’s Viva La Vida and, in a truly sublime duet, Say Something by A Great Big World and Christina Aguilera.
This year’s featured special act is provided by Spain’s Got Talent finalist, Donet Collazo Valdez. His two performances, again emphasising pure strength and athleticism, are totally mesmerising – as he flies high above the arena.
All too soon we reach the finale which, as the arena falls into darkness, is the perfect showcase for the colour-changing light-up skates now worn by the chorus and, as the arena lights up again, becomes a festival of sumptuous Las Vegas style costumes, flame effects, fireworks and enthusiastic applause from the very appreciative audience.
Every year it becomes more of a challenge for the creative team to reimagine Holiday on Ice in order to keep it fresh, relevent and fun but Producer Henrik-Jan Rinner and his team have done that, and a whole lot more, with the best show that they have put on for many years!
***** Five Stars