Disney must have thanked its lucky stars for Pixar Studios. While the stalwarts of movie animation have remained reasonably successful, it has been the much younger partner that has conjured up the real blockbusters of late.
Not surprising then that Disney on Ice should plump for a Pixar offering for their latest tour. What better prospect for young fans than to see their favourite Toy Story 2 characters - Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Jessie and so on - come alive before their very eyes. Sure, this is all big business - parents are unable to pass through the foyer without buying the latest Buzz gadget or official Toy Story popcorn - but once the children’s cheers begin, it is difficult not to just give in to the sheer entertainment of it all.
Transferring a film which used all the advantages of computerised animation to a live arena could not have been easy but producer Kenneth Feld and director Jerry Bilik certainly work their magic. While this is of course an edited version of the original, all the important elements remain, working on enough different levels to keep the attention of the three-year-old next to me and the young girl of nine sitting in front. The principal skaters and large ensemble do skilled choreographer Barry Lather proud, particularly during some delightful production numbers. Indeed some of the on-ice toy creations, ranging from Woody’s trusty steed Bullseye to Slinky Dog and the dastardly Emperor Zurg, are quite inspired, as are Frank Krenz’s costume designs.
Crucial action sequences, such as a huge traffic jam caused by toys crossing the road and the dramatic conclusion on an airport runway, courtesy of scenic designer Loren Sherman and lighting from LeRoy Bennett, are rarely disappointing.