For many adults, ice shows are like circuses, magic acts and Ronald Reagan's redwood trees: If you've seen one, you've seen 'em all. You only consent to another look for your children's sake (these are American birth-rights), and the date looms like a black cloud over your calendar's horizon.
But, once you're there. . . .
The colors, the costumes, the choreography, the grace . . . even the coolness that radiates up from the ice . . . form a nostalgic wave to wash away your cynicism and set you up for an evening of aweful entertainment.
Twenty minutes into the show, the crusty old father is turning to his 8-year-old son and saying, "Watch this," then to his 6-year-old daughter to ask, "Did you see that?"
For sure, "Walt Disney's World on Ice"--which opened its four-week Southern California run at the Anaheim Convention Center Thursday--puts this theory to the sternest test. This two-hour salute to the 50th birthday of Donald Duck is so corny it might have been written by Huey, Dewey and Louie.
There is some fabulous skating, including a few star turns from Olympic silver medalist Rosalynn Sumners and the German pairs team of Almut Lehmann and Herbert Wiesinger. But the show's giddy burlesque--a sort of "This is your life, Donald" with appearances by significant other Daisy, best pal Mickey and such far-flung Disney stablemates as Cruella, Stromboli and the Big Bad Wolf--almost chokes the life out of it.
Producers Irvin and Kenneth Feld have created less a tribute to Donald than a plug for Disney's TV and merchandising divisions. (Just try to slip through the gantlet of toy and gewgaw kiosks on the way out without buying your kids something.)
Still, there's no better way for parents to help their children through critical post-Christmas withdrawal than a good ice show. Unless you know of a good circus in town.
"Walt Disney's World on Ice" runs through Tuesday at the Anaheim Convention Center, glides over to the Los Angeles Sports Arena Friday through Jan. 14 and ends up at Long Beach Arena Jan. 17-19.