BY MIRANDA WHITWORTH Contributing writer
The Happiest Place on Earth is making a stop in Bakersfield and with it comes dozens of characters, memorable music and an ice show that should please even the grumpiest of crowds. "Disney on Ice: 100 Years of Magic" hits Rabobank Arena for a series of performances starting Thursday and continuing through Sunday.
With more than 60 ice skate-clad characters in tow, the production promises a blend of classic tales and recent Disney favorites with award-winning choreographers and costume designers behind the scenes helping to make the fairy tale come alive.
Disney on Ice:100 Years of Magic
When: 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 11:30 a.m., 3:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m. Saturday; 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Sunday
Where: Rabobank Arena, 1001 Truxtun Avenue
Tickets: $10 to $48 plus fee.
Information: ticketmaster.com or 800-745-3500
Stephan Alvin, a professional skater, has spent the last several years touring with "Disney on Ice," performing scenes from "Beauty and the Beast" and "The Lion King." The Fresno native said he's always amazed by the show, no matter how many times he sees it.
"The attention to detail blows me away. Everything fits so well together in the show. All of the performers really step it up and put it out there every time we go out. It's nice to see that level of energy and the level of performance thrown out there night after night."
Several creative heavy-hitters have lined up to contribute their talents to the production, including Emmy Award-winning choreographer Sarah Kawahara, who has worked with Olympian Michelle Kwan and choreographed the skating portion of the opening ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. She jumped on board with Disney to make sure the skating sequences not only are highly skilled but beautiful to watch.
Alvin skates those sequences several times a week and gets to see the crowds react to the movement and dance.
"We have a high level of skating. A lot of triple jumps and back flips. It's a lot of good stuff that goes beyond just watching Disney characters tell a story. Even parents who are just bringing their kids because they are fans of Disney are pretty impressed by the skating. It's really entertaining for everyone."
Beyond Alvin's pieces, the show includes storylines from "Mulan," "Finding Nemo," "The Incredibles" and "Pinocchio," among others. Disney's first super-couple, Mickey and Minnie Mouse, kick off the show, which goes all over the globe, from underwater playgrounds to the provincial French countryside to the jungles of Africa.
The show's mood and pace change as well, allowing the performers to showcase their talents and diversity. Getting to showcase his range in the company of other talented skaters is a high point for Alvin.
"I skate pairs, so I am out there with my partner. 'Beauty and the Beast' is a long pairs number that is a waltz. It's very romantic and tender with a very classic type feel. The 'Lion King' is different. It's romantic but it's also very animal. Between the two, I do 10 overhead lifts so it's very physical, and the audience really enjoys it all."
While Alvin and the "Disney on Ice" team have traveled the world -- 38 countries with stops in South America and Europe -- he's looking forward to making it back to the Central Valley.
"I really like coming to play California. It's so close to home and I like the feel. Everywhere in the country is different and you can tell. I really like the West Coast and the vibe that's out here. The fans are so great. They are really supportive and familiar."