OFF BEAT

OFFBEAT: Disney on Ice back with '100 Years' show in Chicago until Sunday

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2013-09-13T00:00:00Z OFFBEAT: Disney on Ice back with '100 Years' show in Chicago until SundayBy Philip Potempa philip.potempa@nwi.com, (219) 852-4327 nwitimes.com

Welcome to Friday the 13th!

What better way to ward off any bad omens than to spend some happy time with Mickey Mouse and favorite characters of the Disney Magic Kingdom?

The latest Disney on Ice show is skating into Chicago for a quick visit, promising audiences a whirlwind of entertainment themed with snippets of favorite adventure scenes recreated from some of the most popular Walt Disney films.

Disney on Ice presents "100 Years of Magic" is at United Center in Chicago until Sunday. If this show title sounds a little familiar to die-hard Disney fans who are the regulars at these annual icy extravaganzas by Mouse and Company, it's because the same show last visited Chicago this same time of year, back in 2009.

I've seen quite a few ice shows over the years and they're always entertaining. Even without all of the choreography, sparkling costumes, favorite characters and amazing transforming sets, there's also the sheer feat of doing all of this on the most slippery natural substance on the planet: Ice.

Add to the equation a Walt Disney spin and it makes for a winning combination.

For this week's icy offering by parent company Feld Entertainment, there's the advantage of a century of favorite stories to pick from to encapsulate into one of a select slick segments.

The show, featuring a versatile and impressive Disney castle as a functional background, is right around two hours, with two acts starring all of the Disney greats.

Arrive early, and there's the added bonus of Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy being silly and slippery with a Zamboni (ice re-surfacing machine) to warm up the audience during the pre-seating.

As for the scenes and segments, some of Disney's greatest films and moments are represented.

My personal favorite is still a splashy "Pinocchio" musical number featuring the song "I've Got No Strings" and ending with Monstro, the largest and most angry whale ever to glide across ice, swallowing anything in the way. I also always enjoy the bright and cheery display of "It's a Small World," which serves as the grand finale to the first act.

Despite my earlier review of this show published in 2009, the producers still haven't followed my advice to re-design their ice skating interpretation of fish for the "Finding Nemo" segment. Even the first time I witnessed the costume design for these fin favorites from Disney a few years back, I recall being taken aback at seeing what looks like giant, googly eyed fish impaled by skating humans. There's gotta be a better way, right? The meanie sharks always look great. But as for the fish, I just can't swallow this bait.

There's a cute transition number with Mickey and Minnie Mouse leading an audience sing-a-long to the fun and nostalgic "Mickey Mouse Club" theme (still much to the chagrin of Donald Duck), which I'm certain these days, must be more for the amusement of parents rather than children who likely have never even heard it.

For the second act, "Mulan" and "The Incredibles" still seem to slow down the pace of this production.

But in overview, I stand by my original assessment that this is a fun and fine show that audiences of every age can embrace.

"Disney on Ice: 100 Years of Magic" continues through Sunday at United Center, 1091 W. Madison St., Chicago. Tickets are $13, $20, $25; VIP seats $40 weekdays and $50 weekends; front row seats $55 weekdays and $70 weekends. And best of all: FREE PARKING.

FYI: Tickets at the box office (800) 745-3000; ticketmaster.com; disneyonice.com. For group discounts for 20 or more, call (312) 455-7469.

The show is 7 p.m. each night along with additional matinee performances at 11:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The Sunday 7 p.m. show is performed in Spanish.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at philip.potempa@nwi.com or (219) 852-4327.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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