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ICE AGE LIVE! A MAMMOTH SHOW ON ICE
Reviewed by Dione Joseph, 14 May 2016
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 sabre 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 skilfully 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
Take your favourite characters from the Ice Age franchise of children’s movies, add an actual ice-skating rink and some amazing aerial acrobatics and you have the recipe for the captivating show that is Ice Age Live! A Mammoth Adventure.
A live spin-off of the much-loved movies, it is an arena ice spectacular that combines ice-skating, puppetry, aerial work and video on a huge screen behind the moveable stage and ice rink which is well used to set the scene. I took my three-year-old son and six-year-old daughter along to the show at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre with little knowledge about what to expect, other than one over-excited little fan.
My son is an avid Ice Age watcher – on repeat, over and over again – my daughter not so much.
Yet despite being hesitant to admit that she might actually enjoy the performance – as you do when you’re six going on sixteen – my daughter ended up being the one most excited when we walked out of the arena.
Turns out that the show tells a new story in which Manny the wool mammoth, Sid the motor-mouthed sloth and Diego the sabre-toothed tiger set out on a journey to rescue young mammoth Peaches when she is kidnapped by an evil bird called Shadow and his crew of three vulture-like henchmen.
Helped by the acorn-loving squirrel Scrat, they have all kinds of adventures, including discovering an enchanted garden and surviving an avalanche.
My son was a little perplexed about the “angry birdies” which he was adamant weren’t part of any Ice Age film he had enjoyed… for about the hundredth time.
True they are new characters, but that only added to the fun and interest of the show, as while many of the character’s costumes are remarkably true to the original animations, the addition of new characters keeps the show’s storyline exciting.
Manny, Sid, Scrat and Diego all look as close to their animated counter-parts as you could hope for given they’ve been brought to life in life-sized puppet form.
Manny is a huge, lumbering 4m-tall puppet controlled by two puppeteers inside him, while Sid and Scrat are played by actors in body suits, yet their heads have motorised eyes and mouths which are linked to the soundtrack so they lip-synch accurately.
Those lucky enough to be sat around the edges of the ice rink got to enjoy the costumes up close, as many of the characters went up and interacted with members of the audience at different stages throughout the show.
We especially loved how some of the characters’ elaborate costumes enabled them to effectively ‘step out’ of the life-sized versions of their costumes to reveal more streamlined versions underneath.
This is when the real magic of the show happens, as the ‘actors’ are then able to whizz around the ice or fly up in the air in dazzling displays of skill that you just don’t see in your average kids’ stage show.
For example, Shadow could step out of his heavy looking wings and helmet to reveal a tightly fitting body suit that enabled him to truly soar above the ice rink and moveable stage.
It was these mini-performances by the talented ice skaters and aerial acrobats which quickly won over Miss 6, and had myself and her father equally enrapt with the show.
As while the storyline and loveable characters ensure the charm of the Ice Age franchise is retained for younger fans, the inclusion of displays of such strength and precision will win over any older siblings or parents who may be a tiny bit jaded from watching the movies for the 600th time.