Magic on Ice: Disney characters headed to Johnstown

JOHNSTOWN – What’s better than a Disney character coming to life in an ice skating show?

How about more than 60 Disney characters, spanning decades of movie magic, strapping on skates and taking to the rink.

“Disney on Ice Celebrates 100 Years of Magic” is coming to the Cambria County War Memorial Arena. Shows begin Wednesday and run through March 16.

Among others, the show welcomes such characters as Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse; Woody, Jessie and Buzz Lightyear from “Toy Story” and Nemo and Dory from “Finding Nemo.”

“It’s actually 100 years of Disney magic, so the great thing about this, it’s not just one story line, it’s 27 different nods to Disney’s heritage and history so this will play well from grandparents … all the way down to small children. It’s the first time this has been here, and I think it will actually cover the biggest swatch of everything,” CCWM General Manager Tom Grenell said.

Emmy Award-winner Sarah Kawahara, who worked with Michelle Kwan and choreographed the 2002 Winter Olympics opening ceremony’s skating segment, choreographed the show, according to a press release.

Principal skater Natasha Kuchiki portrays Mulan from the Disney movie of the same name and Princess Jasmine from the Disney movie “Aladdin,” in the “100 Years” show.

“There’s something for everybody in this show and they will definitely not be disappointed,” she said.

Among her accomplishments in the skating world, Kuchiki skated in the 1992 Olympic Games and was a bronze medalist in the 1991 World Championships with partner Todd Sand, her biography said.

She began skating when she was 1 year old. Her parents were part of the Ice Capades and she went on tour with them for four years. She later returned to the Ice Capades, and then in 1998 joined Feld Entertainment, which is the production company for Disney on Ice and other shows.

“What Feld Entertainment does here is the perfect platform for anybody who has a passion for skating and acting, because here we tell stories,” she said. “When I step on the ice, I’m no longer … myself, I’m portraying a role, so I really enjoy that aspect of this company.”

As for what she enjoys about performing, Kuchiki said in her biography: “I like being able to reach the crowd and pulling them in so they understand the role I’m playing. When I see just one audience member looking at me the way I want them to, then I know I’ve got them and that’s fulfilling.”

Kuchiki said she does not have a favorite moment on the ice during her performance.

“The whole thing is a favorite, otherwise, I wouldn’t be out there,” she said.

“Your biggest critics are the kids. They know these stories and so, especially with acting and whatnot, you have to really have your ‘A’ game on and you have to really be serious about telling these stories because it is important,” she said.

Disney on Ice first came to the War Memorial in 1996, and took to the arena ice at least 10 times in 17 years, Grenell said. This is its first time back in three years.

“It’s huge,” he said of the popular event unfolding at the same level as the one taking place at the CONSOL Energy Center before coming to Johnstown.

“We couldn’t be luckier,” he said.

Mirror Staff Writer Amanda Gabeletto is at 949-7030.