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It may have been the fastest turnaround in ice show history.
Disney\'s juggernaut of an animated film "Frozen" was released in November 2013 and not even 12 months later — in September — Disney on Ice\'s live touring show of "Frozen" kicked off its U.S. tour.
On Christmas Day, "Disney On Ice presents Frozen" comes to Philadelphia\'s Wells Fargo Center for a two-week run.
Show director Patty Vincent says she first saw "Frozen" at a pre-release screening in summer 2013 and knew right away there was "something special about the movie."
Vincent says she immediately met with Nicole Feld and Kenneth Feld of Feld Entertainment to start planning an ice show based on the movie.
"The sound of it says \'ice skate,\'" says Vincent, who began her career at Feld Entertainment as a skater 31 years ago. "After all, Elsa\'s world is made of ice."
"In our more than 30 years of producing Disney On Ice shows, Feld Entertainment has been waiting for a film like this," Nicole Feld says. "While it might seem obvious that \'Frozen\' is well-suited for the ice, this production will touch audiences emotionally through innovative show elements and world-class skating."
"Frozen," the company\'s 34th "Disney on Ice" show, is a departure from the usual format. Many have a theme but include production numbers from different Disney films. The "Frozen" ice show re-creates nearly the entire story from the film. In the film, Princess Anna searches for her sister, Elsa, who has fled to an icy mountain because she fears her mysterious powers will hurt others. Along the way she is aided by the goofy snowman Olaf, mountain man Kristoff and his reindeer Sven.
Vincent says producers felt it was important to tell as much of the story as possible.
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"Everyone knows the film so well there are certain expectations and you can\'t leave out anything," she says.
However, she says, they had to condense story lines and move scenes around for ease of transitions and to fit the story into an hour and 50 minute show (with intermission). Also, the parents are not in the ice show.
One of the biggest challenges was creating the desolate winterscape to which Elsa retreats.
"We knew we had to have snow," Vincent says. "Being from Canada, I know a lot about snow. We felt it was very important for the audience to feel the depth and isolation."
She says the snow scenes rely on more than 20 snow machines that create everything from a flurry to a blizzard.
"We use a lot of mist," she says. "You can skate through it but it looks like snow."
She says creating the final blizzard was the most complicated. Usually snow machines are mounted on the ceiling so the snow falls down, but designers mounted some on the floor with fans to create a blowing, swirling effect.
"It\'s beautiful but it\'s tricky," Vincent says. "You have the sensation you have to push through it. By the end of the scene the snow starts to build up on the ice and Elsa and Anna have to jump and spin through that."
Vincent says the ice show uses all the music from the film and the audience is encouraged to sing along with favorites such as "Let It Go," the Oscar-winning song sung by Idina Menzel in the film; "Do You Want to Build a Snowman?" and "Fixer Upper."
"Everyone\'s been singing these songs for a year," Vincent says. "I never before experienced a sing-along where everyone knows every single word."
Cindy Stuart, who worked with Olympic gold-medal skater Robin Cousins, choreographed the skating to all the hit songs as well as to incidental music from the film.
Vincent says Feld worked closely with Disney to find performers who physically resemble the characters and are skilled skaters.
Becky Bereswill, who was the 2008 Junior Grand Prix Final champion, plays Elsa.
"She is a strong elegant skater," Vincent says.
Vincent says Bereswill does a technically difficult jump, a double axel, during "Let It Go."
She adds that the skater who plays Kristoff does a "big old back flip to surprise everyone."
Audiences also get to meet other characters, such as the mystical trolls and Marshmallow the snow monster.
"And as Olaf steps out the ice, the crowd goes crazy," she says.
Vincent says designers studied the film to create the scenic design.
"We felt it was important we transported the audience to Arendelle, and then you could feel the change as it shifted to the North Mountains," she says.
She says the designers use lighting, projections and set pieces to create Arendelle\'s village square filled with vendors and a beautiful fountain, even including Elsa\'s lonely window in the castle.
"They created a beautiful atmosphere," Vincent says.
She says they\'ve pulled out all the stops for Elsa\'s big scene when she sings "Let It Go" and magically creates her ice castle.
"We knew for \'Let It Go\' we had to do something pretty spectacular," she says. "We have highly technical remote pieces to build the castle, and with the magic comes the pyrotechnics."
Also new in this ice show is is a six-sided snowflake screen that hangs from the ceiling and descends to becomes part of the castle.
Vincent says it is used to project secondary images that add depth and texture to scenes.
Although the show is definitely all about Anna and Elsa from "Frozen," it wouldn\'t be a Disney on Ice show without Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy opening up.
The four are joined by other Disney characters who do an opening number celebrating friendship and love. The number includes Ariel and Eric from "The Little Mermaid," Woody and Buzz from "Toy Story," Timon and Pumbaa from "The Lion King" and Marlin, Nemo and Dory from "Finding Nemo."
They all return at the end of the show for a huge production number.
"Frozen," which has grossed more than $1.2 billion worldwide, is one of Disney\'s most successful animated movies, and the ice show is already a huge hit.
"It\'s beyond our wildest dreams," Vincent says. "We\'ve already added 28 shows and we just opened in September."
•What: Ice skating show that re-creates the story of Anna, Elsa, Sven and snowman Olaf from the hit animated film "Frozen."
•Where: Wells Fargo Center, 3601 Broad St., Philadelphia