"Dare to Dream" features some of the best costumes, sets and lighting in Disney on Ice history, not to mention some second act circus action. But some adults will have to wait until the second half of the show before the energy and choreography become engaging and impressive enough to capture their attention. Of course, the little ones and the children at heart will have no problem getting along with the entertainment, and for those looking for more advanced figure skating, Rapunzel's second act aerial segment makes the ticket well worth its price.
The show follows three Disney princesses with big dreams, narrated in typical Disney on Ice fashion by Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and Donald Duck. Tiana, Cinderella and Rapunzel make a great trio as they reach for the stars, or floating lanterns in one case, to make their dreams come true.
The first act cuts short with Cinderella's prince's determination to try the glass slipper on every maiden in the kingdom. A grand second act finale somewhat makes up for the lackluster cutoff. Other popular Disney princesses join them in the finale celebrating the return of the lost princess Rapunzel, but the ending resembles a parade of waving actors more than a magnificent Disney finale.
The Disney magic appears elsewhere, however. A gorgeous three-sided set rotates to show scenic background from the relevant stories, and a flowery, pastel-colored covering serves as the perfect backdrop when needed. It's all lit up beautifully, in addition to the ice, itself. Colorful costumes light up the landscape, as well. Ghouls follow the Shadowman. Ray the Firefly and other characters make appearances. And Maximus the valiant horse glides across the rink.
Meanwhile, skaters use big hand and arm movements to exaggerate their cartoon behavior. The evil stepsisters in their bloated facial makeup fall humorously like clowns. The royal guards and Mama Odie's friends skate in lines (think a mixture of "Chorus Line" and The Rockettes on skates, albeit with a bit less precision). A yellow ducky bar scene from Tangled has skaters jumping about in one of the best-choreographed numbers of the show. And there are a number of dramatic disappearances and changes as Tiana and her prince turn into frogs and Mother Gothel loses her life after Rapunzel and Flynn defeat her.
Skaters are always busy doing something, although they do more skating in circles than jumping and fancy footwork. Much of the New Orleans and Cinderella ballroom choreography uses real dances rather than advanced skating. Still, the princesses get their big spotlight moments, and they each have lovely pair routines with the princes. Throughout it all, the music is lively and the skaters energetic. Disney shortened the stories for the ice show, which leaves certain small plot holes and rearrangements of songs and plot elements, but all in all the writing stays true to the original films. Fans will be pleased with the two-hour show, and Rapunzel's aerial tricks will blow audiences away. There's even a bit of adorable audience interaction for the kids to enjoy.
Disney on Ice DARE TO DREAM
Stockton (Feb 7-10)
Sacramento (Feb 13-18)
San Jose (Feb 20-24)
Oakland (Feb 27 - March 3)