High on ice as musical comes south

The icy musical has been packing out venues around the world.
The icy musical has been packing out venues around the world.
It's a simple enough, if slightly obscure, idea. Take one hugely successful film franchise, condense the two stories into a 75-minute show, and then, just for fun, put it on ice.

The result? One of the most popular entertainment spectacles in recent history, that has seen three troupes of professional skaters continuously tour the world for the past nine months, selling out arenas wherever they go.

High School Musical: The Ice Tour is coming as far south as Christchurch, next month.

Performance director, former Olympian ice skater Jackie Soames, explains how they pull it off.

"We bring our own ice. We have an ice department who lay panels on the floor of the venue and tip water all over it.

Then they plug it in and it freezes. The size changes every week, depending on the venue. The ice can be anything from 90 feet long to 120 feet long."

With a cast of 34 professional skaters, dancing to a pre-recorded soundtrack, the show is based on the original two films' choreography, but with added flair.

"We worked with Chucky Klapow, who is the choreographer of the movies, and we learned all the dance steps off the ice first," says Soames.

"Then we transferred the steps on to the ice. It created an extra dynamic, because we have a lot more movement on the ice . . Some of the steps have been adapted and look even better on the ice."

With a full stage and set, including a working lift, scenes are split across the rink to tell the story.

"We have three scenes going on at the same time. On the deck, there's one scene, on the upstage part of the ice there's another scene and on the downstage part of the ice, there's another.

"It flicks through the scenes with lights."

Beginning the tour in South America last September, the troupe has performed in Europe and Australia.

Ticket demand in England was so strong they are planning a return after the Asian leg of their tour, which follows New Zealand.

"I didn't realise how big High School Musical was as an entity," Soames said.

"I knew lots of kids loved it but going out there and seeing packed houses every single day is amazing." - Joanna Hunkin

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