Blade stunner! This ice queen is scorching hot.

04 Jun 13 - Scottish Daily Mail - Jenna ALEXANDER

THE Playhouse seats are very comfortable, but I used only a sliver as thin as an ice skater’s blade right at the very edge of mine thanks to the breathtaking action on stage. And what a stage!

The grand old lady of Edinburgh’s theatres has been transformed into an ice rink under 14 tons of the slippery stuff that took the backstage crew 34 hours to craft to perfection. With ice, of course, but also fire, aerial gymnastics and spectacular lifts, there’s nothing this ice dancing show doesn’t have.

With more than 200 medals between them, the 25 supremely talented Imperial Ice Stars put on the most jaw-dropping spectacle seen in a Scottish theatre for decades. Gasps from the audience were heard throughout as the dancers performed death-defying stunts.

The most breathtaking was an aerial acrobatic sequence in which the dancers performed startling spins and lifts, all while hanging precariously from a silk ribbon suspended from a single wire. By now we were all on the edge of our seats and I’m sure that many fingernails were shorter by the end of the performance.

Set to the captivating music of Tchaikovsky, the skaters re-enact the tale of Sleeping Beauty. After being omitted from the guest list of the christening of the new Princess Aurora, the black fairy Carabosse puts a curse on the child that she will prick her finger on a needle and die.

The good Lilac fairy manages to prevent her from dying but instead puts her into a deep sleep until her Prince comes along to awaken her with a kiss. The tale is as well-worn as it is beloved, but this show is full of surprises. The biggest shock is setting the ice rink on fire.

In a fantastic twist, one of the skaters drops a small flame on to the rink where it develops into a perfect circle around one of the black fairy’s followers, adding to the drama and sheer wow factor that this show exudes.

Each individual on stage is extremely talented and although some have more prestigious roles than others, all are equally superb. Group sequences are visually stunning, with every ice star completely in sync, even when completing very complex lifts or spins.

At one point, no fewer than five females pirouette like the Skydancer toys girls who grew up in the 1990s used to have. They were spinning so fast it looked as if they would take off and soar to the heavens.

One of the most endearing qualities of this show is that it is captivating for people of all ages. There were several children in the audience who were mesmerised by what they were seeing on stage, and the hit reality television show Dancing on Ice probably plays a part in creating an audience for the production.

The show even includes one of the ITV programme’s professional skaters, Olga Sharutenko, who was paired with the buffoonish Keith Chegwin on this year’s series. These reality shows have a lot to answer for, but they can be quite educational.

Perched on the far margin of my seat, I surprised myself by recognising a spectacular triple axel and death spiral. The choreography is by award-winning Tony Mercer, widely – and on this showing, rightly – regarded as the world’s leading creator of theatre on ice. 

Sleeping Beauty on Ice is a show like no other: you’ll leave it exhilarated, relieved no one got hurt, speechless and not bothered that you only used the edge of a seat you paid for in its entirety.

(published 19 April 2013)

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