Last night Vector Arena was swarming with people under four feet tall. The show began at 5pm, not ideal with the end of the day traffic piling up and parking was a mess. As I waited for my guests, one of whom had raced from school, I felt a connection with the other parents or grandparents; we waited with fluctuating bouts of patience as minutes ticked past, scanning the greenery and texting rapidly – or as one mother had to explain to her child, they couldn’t go into the venue because their grandfather had the tickets and he was still at Britomart trying to find a park. It was 4:55pm at that point.
That was the atmosphere outside. Once inside however everything changed. Amidst an audience giddy with excitement, it was easy to transition to embracing a whole new world. This was ICE AGE LIVE. Except this time, it actually was on ice.
As far as plots go it’s a simple story that works brilliantly.
A family who adore each other get separated. The stakes are raised especially when the most vulnerable is taken away by the proverbial ‘baddies’ and all manner of high jinks ensue as the adventure begins.
Add to the narrative a frozen lake and a brilliantly animated set with projections from the film, a few life-size woolly mammoths including a wee baby one; a saber toothed beast and a sloth, and suddenly this tale just takes cool to a whole new level.
Productions on ice have become increasingly popular over the last decade and this particular version, co-directed by Guy Caron and Michael Curry, is a fab way to introduce your children, irrespective of age, to the wonder of the spectacular. The story, music and lyrics by Ella Louise Allaire and Martin Lord Ferguson are a creative blend of catchy ear-worms and smart, quick paced commentary that will keep adults entertained and children, like the one sitting next to me, leaning forward and breathing out “awesome” every five minutes.
What makes this show particularly successful is how it skillfully uses the space at Vector arena. Multiple set levels add to the magic, the animation is lively and the puppeteering is slick and nearly invisible. The highlight was not so much the performances on ice as the aerial work and Curry’s experience with Cirque du Soleil comes to the fore with a remarkable number of sequences.
The fight choreography is excellent and on both occasions the performers, shedding the life-size costumes of their characters, emerge in stellar form delivering some of the most memorable moments that are surpassed only by the aerialists. There are a few scenes that do appear to have been put together in a rush and the choreography unfortunately isn’t quite up to the mark but these are few and far between. While most of the work on ice is good, opening night has more than few near tumbles and the choreography doesn’t quite live up to the other elements of the production.
And oh yes, the famous Scat and his lovely girlfriend definitely do make an appearance and join Sid, Manny, Diego and a host of other new characters including baby mammoth Peaches as they go dance, fly, skid and slide across the lake.
The highlight of the evening of course is the fact that the world of the film suddenly becomes tangible and immediate. There are plenty of opportunities for the characters to interact with the audience (for the lucky ones in the first few rows) and throughout the night the team easily delivers a wholesale evening of fun family fare.
If you have children then do take them, and you definitely won’t be disappointed either.