Half the parts to your kids' "E-Z assembly" Christmas toys are missing, the cat choked on the one gingerbread man you didn't burn, and the mailman just delivered a Visa bill that will make mincemeat out of January's paycheck.
To paraphrase Peter Pan, being grown up is a crock.
But, packing pixie dust and the creative clout of producer Kenneth Feld, the ever-boyish Pan himself will try to re-charge our childish joie de vivre with Walt Disney's World on Ice, a glitzy, high-dollar ice spectacular that opens Christmas Day at the Anaheim Convention Center, where it continues through Dec. 31.
It appears to be, by and large, a faithful retelling of Disney's 1953 animated film "Peter Pan" with a smattering of other Disney stars thrown in for good measure. After an introduction by Mickey, Minnie and the gang, the precious Darling sibs are accompanied by Peter and the impish Tinker Bell (suggested here by a swirl of flickering lights; 4-inch skaters are pretty difficult to cast) on a midnight tour of Never-Never Land, a celestial hideaway where children never grow up and bad guys always finish last.
A little song and dance, a few close calls with nasty Captain Hook, and the children return home believing that no matter how old we may grow, there will always be a bit of Peter's eternally childlike nature inside us all.
Naturally, it takes more than pixie dust to bring such a cozy tale to life in a massive arena. But the folks at Irvin Feld Productions Inc. are old hands at man-made magic (in addition to the World on Ice shows, the firm's holdings include the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus and Las Vegas illusionists Siegfried & Roy).
And this show is no exception. Peter and Co. swoosh over the ice in more than 200 costumes bedecked with 2 million glass jewels and 3,000 twinkling lights. A larger-than-life crocodile pursues Hook via remote control, and Peter and the Darlings really do "fly" over the audience's heads with the help of an elaborate rigging and harness system.
Choreographed by Bob Paul, the show features 51 professional skaters from the United States, Canada, Austria and England in a mix of comic stunts, Vegas-style production numbers and heart-stopping spins, leaps, swoops and twirls. Penny Booth and Michael Nemeic add a touch of fairy tale romance with their elegant ice dancing, and the comic team of Michael Dolan and Christopher Shrimpling keep the kids in stitches as the pratfalling Hook and Mr. Smee.
Montreal native Jaimee Eggleton, 26, a high-energy performer with dimples you could sink a pirate's ship into, stars as Peter Pan. A member of Canada's 1984 Olympic figure-skating team and the 1986 World Championship team in Geneva, Eggleton, who makes his professional debut in this show, says his character has universal appeal.
"I think Peter Pan is someone all adults and children can relate to," he said during a recent phone interview. "Everybody wants to remember the carefree times of (his or her) youth. Peter is a very devilish young boy, always getting into trouble but always getting out of it just as easily. That's the way I was, too.
"During the show, I make six flights over the audience, and I get a pretty good look at their faces from up there," he added. "You see the kids pointing and smiling, and their parents are smiling right along with them. Everybody seems to leave happy, and that makes you feel good ."