Mariah Cawkwell and her older sister share more in common than a love of skating. Both have skated in “Disney on Ice” shows as Dory, the character from the 2003 animated movie “Finding Nemo.”
You can see Cawkwell’s fishy work as she and 38 other members of the “Disney on Ice presents Frozen” cast roll into Selland Arena for 10 performances starting Wednesday, Jan. 27. The Vancouver native’s sister is seven years older and skated the role years before her sister became part of the ice show.
“As soon as I found out I was going to skate as Dory, I called my sister,” Cawkwell says during a telephone interview from San Diego where she was getting a few days rest from the West Coast tour. “I grew up in a skating family and my sister was an avid figure skater.”
The production takes the audience into the wintry world of Arendelle with royal sisters Anna and Elsa and their snowman friend Olaf. The show is based on the Disney movie that picked up the 2014 Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film. It also earned an Original Song award for “Let It Go.” It takes about 20 hours to put together the set, which is so massive it takes 16 trucks to move from town to town.
Before Anna and Elsa get to “Let It Go,” the show opens with a host of other Disney characters. It is hosted by Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, with special guest appearances by Disney Princesses and characters from favorites like “Toy Story” and “The Lion King.” That’s where Cawkwell gets to slip into the Dory costume.
Cawkwell put on her first skates until she was 3 and was 13 when she started to compete. Her mother taught figure skating.
She traded the competitive world for the choreography of Disney ice shows when “Frozen” was being produced last year for its first tour. After months of rehearsals, she set out on the East Coast swing and moved this year to the West Coast.
Every arena is different, but the one thing that stays the same is the sea of happy faces in the audience.
“It is incredible how the audience goes crazy for ‘Frozen.’ It is also an incredible feeling to wave at the audience and there is this sea of waves coming back at me,” Cawkwell says.
Kids know the movie so well that they sing along with the big musical numbers. It often gets so loud that the performers can hear the young crooners backstage.
Audiences are encouraged to sing and dance along to songs, including “Let It Go,” Cawkell’s favorite number. The audience gets to see Kristoff, his loyal reindeer Sven and the mystical trolls as they journey to discover that true love is ultimately the most magical power of all.
Cawkell grew up a fan of Disney animated movies, with Cinderella as her favorite Princess. She changed allegiances to Elsa after becoming a fan of “Frozen” long before she stepped on the frozen stage.
As a member of the ensemble cast, Cawkwell has to be ready in case she needs to move into another skater’s role for the night. The only thing that worries her about taking on another role is letting down the audience: “We always want to put on the best show possible.”
Disney on Ice presents Frozen
- Selland Arena, 700 M St..
- Wednesday, Jan. 27 – Monday, Feb. 1
- Tickets start at $20 with limited quantities of VIP, premium and rink-side seats available
- Purchase tickets online at Ticketmaster.com, charge by phone at 800-745-3000 or go to the Selland Arena Box Office.