Disney will be decking out the James Brown Arena this week, with the “Disney on Ice: Dream Big” show taking over the venue for four days, starting Thursday, Sept. 21.
The show features the stories of many of Disney’s leading ladies through artistic skating and daring acrobatics. Eight princesses including Ariel, Belle, Cinderella, Rapunzel, Tiana, Jasmine, Aurora and Snow White will be there. The sisterly love from Disney’s “Frozen” also will be brought to life on the icy stage. And the producers haven’t forgotten Mickey, Minnie or Tinker Bell, who also will be in the show.
Ice skater Alexe Gilles, 25, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, brings the beloved “Frozen” character Elsa to life. Gilles started skating when she was just 2 1/2 years old, all because her older brother was a skater.
“He was having a birthday party,” she said, “and my (twin) sister and I just walked onto the ice and have loved it ever since!”
Gilles is happy that she gets to make a career out of her passion. Some achievements skating has brought her include being named the 2008 National Junior Champion, Junior Grand Prix final medalist and four-time Senior Grand Prix competitor, and she has been a Canadian and U.S. national competitor.
She said she treasures being a part of Disney’s shows. She started with Feld Entertainment, who produces the Disney on Ice shows, in 2014.
“I love just being able to skate around the world and to travel … I get to visit friends all over the world, so that’s really nice,” Gilles said. “And just to see kids smiling in every show. They may not get the chance to go to Disney World or Disneyland or any other park around the world. So to be able to bring their favorite Disney character to their hometown is pretty special.”
Gilles said she spends a lot of time on the road. The current Disney on Ice tour lasts about nine months, and she said last year she was on the road for more than a year, with a couple of two-week breaks. However, she recently was able to take a two-month break from performing.
“I skated a little … and hung out with family,” Gilles said. “My family’s all over the place, so it was good to see them after being on the road for so long.”
Gilles is enjoying playing Elsa. When she and the other skaters in the show were hired, they had to go through Disney character training, spending about six weeks in Florida learning how to become their characters.
“I just love how Elsa’s so powerful and she’s very reserved, but she loves her sister and her family and just the crowd reaction that she gets is something that I’ll never be able to forget,” Gilles said. “It’s hard to replicate that with anything else. She’s such a popular, iconic character that it’s kind of a dream come true to play her. A lot of people want to play her, so to be able to do that is a gift every day.”
This will be the first time Gilles has ever been to Augusta, and she’s looking forward to exploring the area. She said how much time the skaters get to explore towns depends on their schedule, but this year the schedule will have them flying in on Monday, so they’ll have that evening and the Tuesday and Wednesday before the show to get to see the area.
Gilles emphasized that the “Dream Big” show is geared toward a wide audience.
“It’s a great, exciting show with demographics for everyone — grandmas, grandpas, moms, dads, all kids, boys, girls, and it’s really a unique show and very special and near and dear to all of us performing,” she said.
“Disney on Ice: Dream Big” will be showing at 7 p.m. Sept. 21; 10:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. Sept. 22; 2 and 6 p.m. Sept. 23; and 2 p.m. Sept. 24. Tickets start at $15 and are on sale online at GeorgialinaTix.com, by phone at 877-428-4849, or in person at the SRP Box Office at the James Brown Arena. The show runs about two hours, with an intermission.