Disney’s leading ladies take centre stage (or ice rink) in the latest Disney on Ice show: Dream Big, which begins its 12-day run at the O2 Arena on Boxing Day, writes Holly O’Mahony…

Led by Tinker Bell, the wintry performance of high-flying jumps, daring acrobatics and lovable Disney characters whisks audiences through the tales of eight Disney princesses, each determined to make her dreams come true.

The all-new production, produced by Feld Entertainment, sees several of Disney’s well-known stories brought to life side-by-side on the icy stage. Viewers get to dive under the sea with the fearless dreamer Ariel, who yearns to explore life above the waves; watch Rapunzel, Cinderella and Belle as they discover how to make their own magic; travel to the wintry world of Arendelle with sisters Anna and Elsa; witness Jasmine discovering a whole new world; and join Snow White, Aurora and Tiana as they demonstrate how strength and kindness go hand-in-hand. Fans of 2016 hit movie Moana will be thrilled to hear the titular character is making her London skating debut in Dream Big, too, marking the first time local audiences will have the chance to see the children’s heroine take to the ice.

“Before dreaming up this show, we reflected on what makes Disney’s leading ladies so unique,” said Producer Kenneth Feld in a press release for the show. “Having three daughters, it didn’t take long to realise that every princess had one thing in common: each one had a dream and the determination to make it a reality. We wanted to share that inspirational message with our audiences by celebrating the stories of these courageous young women and the friends that helped them along the way,” he says, pointing out that it’s the inclusion of new and exciting characters – like Anna and Elsa from Frozen, and Moana from Moana – that helps keep Disney on Ice shows current and evolving.

Adapting memorable moments from the hugely popular films for the ice presented an interesting challenge to the creative team, who knew it would take glittering sets, dramatic lighting and captivating choreography to pull off.

For costume designer Ilona Somogyi, the experience bore similarities to her work on costumes for the hit Broadway production Spamalot – the musical-comedy adapted from the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail – where she used a very well-known film with several beloved characters as her primary resource. For Dream Big, Somogyi found herself creating costumes for equally well-known characters, recognisable by their dresses worn in Disney’s animations. “My underlying inspiration [for the costumes] was the little girls who go to the shows dressed as their favourite Disney Princess. Seeing them made me nostalgic and took me back to what dazzled me as a little girl,” she said.

Meanwhile for set designer Robert Little, the goal was to create a set that would look as stunning as the princesses themselves but be flexible enough to allow the telling of the various different tales – which take place in a range of locations, from snowy mountains to the depths of the sea. Using a little sprinkling of pixie dust, it’s down to narrator Tinker Bell to magically transform the set into a different backdrop for each story.

“When telling nine distinct stories, it’s important to be able to create a new environment to set the stage for each tale,” said the Emmy Award-winning Lighting Designer of Dream Big, Peter Morse. “Robert Little did this with the transformable set, and it was my mission to fill the rest of the ice with radiant lighting that would place the audience in the heart of these stories.”
For Creative Director Jerry Bilik, the most exciting thing about the show is the cast. “These exceptional performers help translate the stories to the ice magnificently,” he said. “Their portrayal of the princesses and princes sweeps the audience away because they capture the essence of the characters’ hopes, dreams and heroism.”

‘Follow your dreams’ might be the message behind the show, but it’s also the advice from Antonia Mitchell, the ice skater playing Moana, the newest lead addition to the Disney on Ice cast. “It’s so important to dream and to have goals, and to work really hard to achieve those dreams – and to never give up,” says Antonia. “For ice skating in particular, it’s so fun. You get to glide on the ice, wear fabulous costumes, skate to the music and entertain people,” she adds. “I’ve had a lot of big dreams in my life and one of them was to travel the world – and it came true with skating in Disney on Ice.”

The Europe-wide tour of Disney on Ice’s Dream Big comes to the UK from France, where it’s subsequently returning to, before heading on to Belgium, Switzerland, Spain and Portugal in 2019.

Disney on Ice’s Dream Big is on at the O2 Arena, Peninsula Square, London SE10 0DX. From December 26 – January 6, times vary. Admission: £32.50 – £61.25.