To Skate or Not to Skate
by Tom Macklin
Do we really need "The Nutcracker on Ice?"
It was Saturday morning - another chance to spend some quality time with my daughter one-on-one. A chance to cultivate that everlasting father-daughter bond. A chance to create a memorable weekend that she would cherish for years to come.
We ended up at Blockbuster. A couple of tapes would keep her busy while I caught up on the NBA play-offs. Okay, so "Father Knows Best" I'm not.
Annie was trying to decide between a movie featuring the Olson Twins and a Britney Spears movie. Basing my theatrical assessment entirely on how the actresses were dressed on the box covers, the father in me pleaded a case for Mary Kate and Ashley.
"Did you know that one of them is right-handed and the other one is left-handed?" Annie asked, pointing to the Twins' video. I tucked that tidbit away, certain it would come in handy during a slow moment at the next PTA meeting.
We were just about to leave the family section of the store when the video caught my eye. A couple of Russian skaters - Oksana Baiul and Viktor Kerplinko, I think - posed earnestly on the cover of "The Nutcracker on Ice."
Who's idea was this? How did this come to be?
The setting: the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia. The year is 1892.
The Kirov Ballet is gracefully dancing to the premier orchestral performance of Tchaikovsky's brilliant score. The ballet ends, and the audience erupts into thunderous applause. During the standing ovation, a patron in the mezzanine turns to her husband and says, "You know, this is nice and all, but wouldn't it be better if they did it on ice?"
I think nyet.
Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against figure skating. Heck, I had a crush on Peggy Flemming for years. Yes, I'm that old.
In fact, it was figure skating that brought our family together around the TV set every four years to watch the Winter Olympics. The sport had something for everyone.
The women in the family admired the participants for their grace and athleticism. To them, the artistic interpretation combined with powerful jumps and fancy footwork was spellbinding. The men in the family, while feigning the same admiration, were able to watch scantily-clad women in below-freezing temperatures - dancers with legs so long, they went all the way down to the ice.
Yes, figure skating was the perfect spectator sport. I just don't think that putting something on ice automatically makes it better.
And it's not just "The Nutcracker" that has me so hot under the collar over something so cold under the feet. Shameless promoters are putting everything they can think of on the stiff H2O.
In the past few years, both Barbie and the Muppets have laced up and skated to a rink near you. The folks at Disney have every character from every movie they've ever made learning to skate. There have been touring shows of Beauty in the Beast, Toy Story, Aladdin, The Lion King, Tarzan, and The Little Mermaid.
Excuse me, but how do I explain to my daughter how the little mermaid and her fish friends made it above the frozen ocean and are now surviving? Well, I guess it's as good an explanation of evolution as I've heard lately.
"See, first we had fish, then came the mermaids. During the ice age they clawed their way out of the ocean and learned to do double axels and triple sow-cows."
There's even a "Jungle Book on Ice."
I'm sorry, but I had to...I mean, as a parent I was fortunate enough to see the video of the animated movie a few hundred-thousand times with my daughter. I don't remember any scene in their hot, humid jungle where Baloo and Mowgi ice-skated. I don't remember a scene with an ice rink. In fact, I don't remember a scene with an ice cube. I know it's just make-believe, but when they stretch this far, I'm not believing it.
That being said, I'm now looking for investors interested in backing a new ice show. I know what your thinking.
"This guy's a hypocrite."
Well, maybe so. But I'm not going to cash in shamelessly on the public's desire for mindless drivel on ice. No, I'm going to raise the rink, so to speak. I'm going to give the ice-skating audience something to think about. I'm going to give them:
"Hamlet on Ice."
That's right. Not only is something rotten in the state of Denmark, it's also slippery.
Can't you hear that famous soliloquy now?
"To skate or not to skate? That is the question. Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slips and slides of zambonied ice, or to take bruised arms against a frozen sea of troubles."
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