Holiday on Ice is 69 years old this year – but if you think that means it’s time to pension it off, think again. Olympic champion and Dancing on Ice judge Robin Cousins has pulled out all the stops to bring the show bang up to date. He has created a piece that is thrilling, high-energy and fast-paced one moment and sexy, sensual and smouldering the next.
Set mainly to the music of superstar songwriter Barry Manilow, with both his newest pieces and some original scores dropped in for good measure, the show takes us from the sultry Copacabana nightclub where we meet Lola all the way to a weekend in New England.
With no scenery and minimal props in evidence, the set changes happen using the show’s latest innovation, a giant interactive LED screen. This provides not only a massive addition to the already impressive lightshow, but also enhances both the songs and the skating.
The show has retained many of its most popular features like the incredibly impressive wheel, where we all wonder if that last skater will actually be fast enough to catch up, the ladies in huge elaborate costumes, who seem to glide across the ice as if they are floating, and, of course, the big finale. This year, however, something new has happened to the performance.
Bolstered, I am sure, by the success of the television show, the performance has a new energy and vigour about it. The skaters are, as usual, absolutely world-class. They travel at breakneck speeds to perform the jumps and leave the audience astounded by the amazing skill and dexterity that they need to perform at this level.
They also, in the slower numbers, reveal a sensuality in their performance that is both palpable and beautiful. This is most noticeable in the wonderful “Bolero d'amore” which is performed by five skaters who, taking metrosexuality to its logical conclusion, dance boy with girl, girl with girl and boy with boy.
The younger members of the audience are treated to a fantastical Christmas number where all the toys in the toyshop on the screen come to life and each one – from the gingerbread man and woman to the dinosaur, the toy soldiers and even the teddy bear – take to the ice and interact with the audience in a number that actually goes off the top of the cute scale.
I spoke to Cousins after the show and he explained that: “The rhythm of skating fits the way that Manilow’s melodies unfold and it doesn’t take much manoeuvring of the way that skates work to make it fit in a comfortable fashion”. This is very obvious throughout the show, as each and every scene is artistically, creatively and visually superb.