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'Walt Disney's World on Ice ' Has an MTV Sheen : Skating: The 10th anniversary edition, opening tonight at Anaheim Convention Center, features new Disney characters in a high-tech setting.

December 25, 1991|LIBBY SLATE | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

ANAHEIM — This year's "Walt Disney's World on Ice" show well could be subtitled "Mickey Meets MTV." The 10th anniversary edition, which opens tonight for a week at the Anaheim Convention Center, has skated firmly into the '90s with contemporary music and dance styles, quick scene changes and high-tech production values.

It also brings together many of the newest Disney characters--Roger Rabbit, the Little Mermaid and the Disney Afternoon cast--who join Mickey Mouse and his longtime friends in a story about a musical time machine that bounces them everywhere from ancient Egypt to a '50s diner.

"This is a much faster-paced show than we've done in the past," said Bob Paul, the 1960 Olympic pair champion who is also Disney's skating director and choreographer.

"We wanted to get into the contemporary things that kids know, things they see every day on television and in the movies."

The opening, for instance, features a rap number as well as a rendition of "Rhythm Nation" by Mickey and Minnie Mouse. But purists needn't worry: "If there's a classical song, we use it more or less in a classical form," Paul said. "We wouldn't try to make a rap out of 'When You Wish Upon a Star.' "

Of course, the Disney characters are the main difference between this ice show and other frozen extravaganzas, and the performers who portray them must not only be skilled at acting and mime but must skate in bulky costumes that allow only limited vision.

"A lot of the skaters have never been in costume before, so we spend a lot of time with them before they put it on," said Disney characterization director Roy Luthringer, a former Disneyland dancer and assistant choreographer for Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

"We have acting and animation sessions. Then we advance to working in the shoes, the clothes and finally the full costume. At first when they put on the head, it throws off their balance, so they have to adjust."

Without a full range of vision, performers occasionally bump into each other. "The characters have the right of way," Luthringer said. "If you're not a character, you watch out for them."

Disney plans to continue incorporating new characters with each new show, said Paul, citing the example of Darkwing Duck. Introduced this season on the Disney Afternoon television lineup, he is appearing in the "World on Ice" edition which will hit Anaheim next year.

And the show will remain contemporary, Paul added. "We're going to keep pace with the young people of today."

"Walt Disney's World on Ice," through Tuesday at the Anaheim Convention Center, 800 W. Katella Ave., Anaheim. Show times: today at 7:30 p.m.; Thursday and Friday at 1:30 and 7:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday at noon, 3:30 and 7:30 p.m.; Monday at 1:30 and 7:30 p.m.; and Tuesday at 1 p.m. Tickets: $8.50 to $13.50. Information: (714) 999-8900.

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