After an arduous year, you can rely on Holiday on Ice to lift spirits every January. A firm fixture at the Brighton Centre for as long as anyone can remember, this year’s ice-travaganza was perhaps the most astounding production yet. Now Olympic gold medallist and skating icon, Christopher Dean, takes the reins to direct and choreograph a reimagining of the Shakespeare classic, Romeo and Juliet. After last year’s more stripped-back affair, his Believe concept pushes at the limits of human expression and entertainment technology.
It brings together Dean’s Olympic-level choreographic skills, combined with live music, stunning décor, glamorous costumes, and the best in leading-edge special effects. The narrative echoes themes covered within The Hunger Games trilogy, as the Underworld’s workers struggle while the glitzy inhabitants of the Upper World relax. The movement between these two diverse worlds is effortless, enhanced greatly by an adaptable set which draws influence from Metropolis and various steampunk classics. The factory scenes within the Underworld particularly are a triumph of lighting design, pyrotechnics, and prop-work. You can almost feel the factory workers’ efforts as they toiled for the ‘boss man’. Liberally scattered throughout the sequences were gravity-defying lifts, giving me butterflies every time. The flawless skating of the upper world bosses (Julius and Julia) gives the impression they can do anything, and are truly in charge of both everyone and everything in their world.
When the two future lovers Antonio and Clarissa finally meet, their blossoming relationship is measured through clever use of LED-covered suits. Each perfectly syncopated with the soundtrack, these beating heart displays ingeniously convey the rush of emotions experienced by the characters.
A pole dancing routine felt a little out of place within the narrative, but you couldn’t deny the performer’s skills. Her incredible strength and agility coupled with the most amazing water display you’ll ever see created one of the show’s most breath-taking moments. There’s also a nod to Dean’s own triumphs, in the form of an aerial routine set to the to Bolero was very well done – of course that music had to be in there somewhere.
The finale, with more LED-embellished suits all in white and, of course, the tune Believe ringing out, made my heart glad. I left with a massive smile on my face, the memory of this show will keep me smiling through the cold of January. The most famous brand of entertainment on ice for over seven decades, Holiday on Ice’s statistics are nearly as incredible as the performances. Over 328 hundred million people have seen their shows to date, and with productions like this that number is sure to swell.
Holiday on Ice’s Believe is at The Brighton Centre on Weds 4 – Sun 8 Jan 2017
By Nicky Gilkes