The Hexagon welcomes Cinderella on Ice showBy Caroline Cook
January 09, 2013
It is 1am and a man is spritzing the floor of The Hexagon theatre with water.
He coats the stage floor and waits an hour before spraying again. Gradually, over the course of the night, the floor begins to sparkle.
When the cast arrive in the morning, pulling their skates on to rehearse, there lies a glittering ice rink, ready for action.
It takes two days, a team of experts and a little patience to create the dazzling set for Wild Rose Productions’ spectacular, Cinderella on Ice.
“It’s quite a complex job,” explains production manager Sam Avison. “We have got two different trucks. One is predominately filled with set, lighting and costumes and the other is full of ice rink equipment.
“We tour with our own chillers, ice making equipment and pipe work and we can build the rink to whatever size we need. We can build 15m wide by 14m deep at our biggest venues, or 10m by 12m at smaller ones.”
The company has been touring around the UK since December, building a new ice rink at every theatre they visit, including at The Hexagon, where an ice stage will be set up for the five-day run.
“If our first show is on the Wednesday evening we come in at 9am on Tuesday and start unloading,” says Sam Avison.
“We put the lighting up and dress the stage and then start unloading the ice truck and setting up the pipes.
“We have a guy who stays overnight to spray the ice rink with little layers of water. That takes about 12-14 hours. The rest of us go home and get some sleep and then finish setting up the next day.”
With each theatre presenting a different size for the stage it is then up to the cast to re-work their routine to fit the new space.
“At each theatre we go to, when we’ve built the set and started to make everything look pretty the stars come in with their rehearsal coach to work,” says Sam.
“If it’s bigger or smaller it can change the routine and there’s lots of choreography.”
The cast are largely Russian with their backgrounds ranging from figure skating champions to Moscow Circus College graduates.
“We have got an extremely high calibre of stars with us,” says Sam. “Especially at the moment because we have got three shows running so that means three different companies and tech teams.”
The ice stars train rigorously for the shows, and travel around the world, twirling and leaping across the ice in places like Portugal and Madrid.
“Our dancers come from that rigorous hard training world where they're learning from a very young age and doing it 10 hours a day,” says Sam.
“They’re extremely hard working and disciplined and that’s been grounded in them from an early age.
“You don’t see them complaining even if they’re tired, it’s in their nature. As soon as they go on stage they transform and put on a fantastic performance.”
As well as gliding over the ice the dancers are also lifted in the air by specialist aerial equipment.
“We have our own flying troupe and flying equipment and we set that up as well,” says Sam. “We’ve got state of the art lighting and our own beautiful costumes and props.
“It’s a classical ballet with ice and with this particular show we also have circus acrobats like a German wheel which they sit on and go round. You can do dancing anywhere but ice dancing is different, especially because we bring it to theatres, it’s a lot more interesting.
“A lot of people ask if the ice is real because they can’t believe we’ve turned their theatre into an ice rink but it is!”
Cinderella on Ice
Wednesday, January 16, to Sunday, January 20.
The Hexagon, Reading
(0118) 960 6060