Wednesday, 9 October 2013

SLEEPING BEAUTY ON ICE (UK Tour) Birmingham Press Launch

The summer is all but a distant memory and it won't be long until Birmingham is really feeling the winter chill. Jumpers and scarves however are already a necessity at the New Alexandra Theatre this week as the Imperial Ice Stars take over the stage. 

The acclaimed production of Sleeping Beauty On Ice takes nearly 24 hours to get into a venue and for the entirety of its run, the freezers are on! Walking into an unusually cold auditorium, Dancing On Ice professional and World Champion figure skater Olga Sharutenko greeted members of the press with cast members Bogdan Berezenko, Iuliia Odintcova and Jurijs Salmanovs.

As part of the day's activities I took to the ice with Olga and Bogdan for my very first ice skating lesson. I was petrified, but if I was ever going to do it, this was the time. Clung to the world champion figure skaters I tentatively made my way across the stage. I didn't think it was possible to sweat so much in such cold temperatures but I thoroughly enjoyed my first time on the ice! Would I do it again? With my world champion teachers of course but I can't see myself attempting it solo at Solihull Ice Rink!

It is a smile... just about! (Photograph by Phil Hitchman)

Between them, the cast have won over 250 competition medals, most of whom started skating from a very young age - some as young as 3! 44 people tour with the show including performers, technicians and a doctor with a further 17 people required at each venue. The freight of the whole show is approximately 25,000kg - the equivalent of 70 grand pianos.

Talking about the ice, production manager Bruno Hunt said: "To set the ice it's quite simple, we keep spraying the surface until it freezes over but to break it, that's really hard! About half way through the last show at a venue we'll turn the chillers down to about -12 and that makes the ice brittle and easier to smash. After the final show we go out in lines and smash it, shovel it into wheelbarrows and get it out of the building ... then we've got a lot of mopping up to do!"

An ice version of a show is completely different to what you would expect from a ballet version, as director Tony Mercer explains: "A lot of the time companies will just say 'copy the ballet' but that's not the right idea at all. Ice dancing is fabulous as we all saw with Torvill and Dean and their Bolero - ice dancing can tell a story just as well as ballet can, so why try to mimic ballet. Of course, it's balletic in style but I put together Imperial Ice Stars so that I could bring to the stage the kind of ice dancing I wanted to see."

Olga Sharutenko & Bogdan Berezenko (Photograph by Phil Hitchman)

You can listen to longer clips from the interviews with Bruno Hunt (Production Manager), Tony Mercer (Artistic Director/Choreographer), Bogdan Berezenko (Prince Désiré) and Olga Sharutenko (Princess Aurora) in the podcast below. 

Sleeping Beauty On Ice runs at the Birmingham New Alexandra Theatre until Saturday 12 October 2013. You can book tickets here

1 comment:

  1. really enjoyed listening to these interviews. might have to book tickets for this. i already have tickets for keith and olga nutcracker show in london. its so interesting to hear from the technical crew as well as just the dancers all the time. but i love olga. thank-you. xx