BWW Review: Imperial Ice Stars Inspire Childlike Wonder in PETER PAN ON ICE
Producer, artistic director and choreographer Tony Mercer describes PETER PAN ON ICE as being purely for the fun - and that's exactly what it is. From the beloved storyline to delightful staging, the Imperial Ice Stars have made a memorable fairytale even more magical in their 2 hour iced extravaganza on stage at the Artscape Opera House.
The production follows the Peter Pan fairytale to the tee in a number of intricately-skated scenes. In the second act, the story become a bit vaguer but this is not to say that it takes away from the production; it just makes certain plotlines more suggestive while making room for the imagination. Aided by visual clues, musical numbers, and narratives interludes, each scene flows into each other that ties up well in a climactic finish. It's very rarely I attend shows where children are literally on the edge of their seats, but PETER PAN ON ICE does just that.
As for the skating, Mercer is not an ice skater himself but a renowned theatre-on-ice director and choreographer. His choreography skills come through strongly in certain numbers, whereas his overall talent for directing theatre-on-ice is seen throughout. He uses the space well and blocks skaters so as not to overwhelm you. It should also be mentioned that the combination with streamlined glides and heart-pumping jumps is enticing to watch for the most part of PETER PAN ON ICE.
The skaters themselves are majestic to watch. Lead Bogdan Berezenko as Peter Pan is statuesque and charming, and his female couterparts Inna Horbachova (Wendy) and Olga Sharutenko (Tinkerbell) balance the threesome out nicely. Horbachova is more graceful and Sharutenko is appropriately more intimidating, whose embellished fly-in is one of the most memorable entrances of the show.
Each member of the company is as impressive as the next, and the ensemble particularly works well together on stage. The time and effort that goes into honing one's skill for a production like this is admirable by itself, and when taken into consideration it is done consecutively with the same energy for an entire run, it is even more so.
The visual backdrops work well for PETER PAN ON ICE and they strike a balance between realistic and VR-like. The musical numbers were a bit oddly placed and I personally would have preferred Tim A. Duncan's orchestral arrangements to carry the entire show. When assuming it would be mostly children enchanted by this production, however, the songs add a unique dynamic. Costuming also adds an appealing element and Veronika Pasternak's creations do well to have an on stage impact and allow skaters freedom to perform their varying routines.
Just as its lead character never grows old, so does the wonder of J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan. PETER PAN ON ICE adds a new life to the well-known tale, and is a dazzling welcome to the new year that has the potential to amaze both young and old.
Photo credit: Christiaan Kotze
PETER PAN ON ICE will be performed at Artscape Opera House until 5 February from Tuesdays to Saturdays at 7.30pm, Sundays at 5.30pm, with a matinee performance on Saturdays at 3pm and Sundays at 2pm. Tickets ranging from R115 to R450 can be booked via Computicket outlets or by following this link.