Donald Hutchera
The Times


Ice dancing has been Wild Rose’s business
or close to 15 years.

The British company’s method is to take familiar narratives, usually fairytales, and adapt them into frozen-floored theatre. The strategy
has proved popular with audiences of all ages…

Wild Rose claims to be having one of its best seasons with its current touring production of Peter Pan on Ice. As choreographed by Giuseppe Arena, to a smooth and sometimes sprightly pre-recorded score by fellow Italian Silvio Amato, this lively version of J. M. Barrie’s story of the boy
who can fly is a fine example of its kind. Wild Rose has, perhaps a little shrewdly, followed the lead of the Johnny Depp film Finding Neverland and made Barrie the fulcrum of its staging.

Not that we’re offered any biographical background detailing his motives for creating Peter Pan. Rather, stationed at a desk to the side of the stage, the writer observes and occasionally enters into his own fictions. This simple yet clever device is lent an extra pinch of charm thanks to the casting of Valdis Mintals. Tall, dark and dapper, his mustachioed Barrie cuts a handsome figure.

Mintals, like a few onstage colleagues, is Estonian. They all go by the moniker the Russian Ice Stars, indicating the country of origin of most of these spirited former championship skaters. The company is also sprinkled with circus-trained performers, hence the extraneous but quick, diverting rope tricks featured in several scenes or the cheerful Indian maiden who swivels inside a Hula Hoop of fire.

Cheesiness is kept largely to a minimum in a pacey, good-looking production that touches upon all the right plot points… Viktoriya Shklover, a wonderfully tiny ball of energy... Dmitri Naumkin is sturdy and amiable... Aleksei Kozlov works hard as a scowling Hook... The one I believed in the most was Ekaterina Mintals-Bokiy’s long-limbed Tinkerbell, all flighty twirls and sweetly flaring temperament.

Dramatically, the best sequence is the aftermath of the self-sacrificing Tink’s temporary death via an offstage bomb. As a giggling audience recovers from the surprise of the blast, Peter turns not just to us, but
to Barrie, too, to help to revive her. Heightened by a short but smashing solo for Naumkin, the scene represents this efficient entertainment’s sole tug at the heartstrings.

Janet West


Barrie would love this Peter Pan

Peter Pan is a great friend of mine, writes JANET WEST.

Having READ the play and the book, enjoyed biographical works on author J M Barrie, seen the play, written two Peter Pan ice show scripts, watched the film, attended the Holiday on Ice performance and previously seen a snippet of this version, there was no way I was going to miss this Russian Ice Stars’ Peter Pan.

It is a clever show, so beautifully choreographed and performed with
such skill, clarity and discipline that it resembles ballet on ice.

Full marks to the company for giving J M Barrie his due. Skated immaculately by Valdis Mintals, James Barrie was seated at his writing desk at the corner of the stage, he left quietly at certain points, returning later, always hanging up his coat and hat before surveying the action and proceeding, once again, to write.

At times he interacted with the skaters, notably Mother (Svetlana Kuprina), Wendy (Viktoriya Shklover) and Tinkerbell (Ekaterina Mintals-Bokiy), and was then able to show his mastery of pairs skating. This cameo gave us an insight into the reality of the writing of fantasy – times when you sit and write; times when you carry on with other things but your characters seem to demonstrate a life beyond your imaginings and start acting of their own accord.

Other indicators that James Barrie has been taken into account were the dance interludes with the Mother; Barrie always yearned for the love of his own mother who had lost her eldest, and sadly favourite, son in a skating accident when he was young. The brother that never grew up was thought to have been immortalised by the author in Peter Pan.

At one point in the play Peter (Dmitri Naumkin), who was devastated
by the death of Tinkerbell who had saved his life, wanted to re-write the story. He approached Barrie and took his pen to do so. This led to one
of the most inspirational, emotional, moments.

The main frame of scenery was bookcases; a huge book at the rear opened and the double pages provided the beautiful backdrops to the scenes. The joy of the choreography was in the attention to the minutest detail. Whether characters were skating freely or in one spot, their movements were choreographed to connect visually with the whole scene. The cast was all adept at mime and characterization as well as being superb skaters. Occasionally some characters had to be still and they were so immobile that they became part of the scenery.

In one amazing scene Peter, Tinkerbell and Wendy were rescuing Tiger Lily (Claire Bournet) from Hook (Aleksei Kozlov), Smee (Sergei Smirnov) and Bosun (Oleg Tataurov), so there were seven characters on the ice. They each had their own choreography and they were sometimes interacting with one small group and sometimes another. It was an interplay of movement but always visually balanced. Of the choreographic variables, one often overlooked is height – in a lively pirate sequence we even had a skated wheel with height and by using hanging ropes as part of the ship and island scenery and a trampoline covered with pirate flag, we got some well characterized gymnastic work all interwoven into the tapestry on the ice dance.

If you go, watch out for the crocodile. Also note the small touches,
Mother and Father dance (with just a couple of pairs lifts) as befits their characters.

The show, presented by Wild Rose Ltd, tours until the end of June.
I saw it at the Cliffs Pavilion, Southend, and am aware I could have gone back every night for the rest of the stay and seen something I had missed before.

James Barrie once said, ‘… some plays peter out and some pan out …’, this one took us all the way to Neverland and back. Barrie would have loved it.

Edward Thomas
Encore Magazine



And to think I had never been all that interested in ice shows. I believe
I had seen only one other. I had always thought of them as a mish-mash variety show on skates - nothing special. And this one would be no more than an extension of that. Peter Pan on Ice. Know the story; they'll just be moving it along quicker. It took one Saturday afternoon in February
at the Congress Theatre to change all that misconception.

Mesmerizing is what it was, from the moment the curtain rose to find the townspeople cavorting in and out and around London to set the scene and the times. One of these was the purported J M Barrie himself who zoomed to his writing desk downstage right at 100 miles an hour and came to a sudden stop. From there he would oversee proceedings as
we watched him slowly constructing his most famous work. Nor did he prove himself a slouch in the pirouetting department, frequently taking our breath away as he did. To accomplish all that while immaculately dressed in grey tail coat and top hat showed the brilliance of VALDIS MINTALS who took the part.

The entrance of Peter in flight also had us gasping. One would have thought DMITRI NAUMKIN spent his life in the air. From then on he gave us the most magical interpretation of this familiar character. And not just with his skating. In common with the entire cast of some 50-strong, Dmitri executed a degree of expression and mime that endorsed Charlie Chaplin's regret at the loss of silent film with its universal language.

Talking of which, I had wondered all through the first half how they would get round the entreaty to the audience to bring Tinkerbell back to life. Even if Dmitri could speak English, no way could he shout: 'Do you believe in fairies?' us to respond by screaming our heads off yes. The ploy was that slow hand-clapping might do the trick. Dmitri tried it on us. It worked. J M Barrie carried the apparent lifeless form of OLGA PERSHANKOVA back on stage and the regimented hand-claps slowly woke her up. By then,
I confess, I was in tears.

How did they do it on the Congress stage, hardly the proportions of Streatham Ice Rink? It was all a part of the expertise of Russian entertainment, to which we were treated in full. Here we had the circus skills, the gift of dance, with much practiced performing precision and all that the Slavonic artistes are noted for. Now that's how to 'do different cultures'. Have the real thing over here, undiluted, not the hotch-potch of multiculturalism, determined by the liberal elite melting potters of Camden Town. I'd lay a pound to a penny the allocation of local arts money in Russia is not our watered-down politically correct set-up. They would go for the full-monty of Russian culture, sticking to what they do best as a performing nation.

The Wild Rose Russian Ice Stars pack out the Congress every time they come, even at these prices. They're appearing just about everywhere between now and July. Next autumn they will be back, with 'Beauty and the Beast'. Save up your pennies, go see them, and be exhilarated.

For myself, I am converted. If I lose interest in all other forms of theatre: straight plays, musicals, ballet, opera, pantomime, the one genre of the performing arts that will sustain me is the one that - come to think of it - contains elements of all the above: The Ice Show.

Angie Johnson
Oxford Mail


Peter Pan gets the Frosty Treatment

PENNYFARTHINGS glide over the ice; a magical boy flies into a London nursery room; children are whisked off to a magical land of pirates, indians, fairies and Lost Boys - back with another outstanding production are Wild Rose and the Russian Ice Stars and their new and inspired adaptation of the classic childrens adventure Peter Pan.

As the name Russian Ice Stars implies, the cast are world class skaters, but the excellence and fun of this show is not just limited to outstanding ice dancing. It includes fantastic circus stunts - fire juggling, knife and hoop work, tumbling, and some of the most exhilarating rope climbing
I have ever seen. Forget Cirque de Soleil this was Cirque de Glace and
it was thoroughly exciting.

The story of Peter Pan lent itself particularly well to the fast-paced balletic style of the company. Their expressiveness, imagination and excellent ability to bring the characters alive was pure magic.

A particularly good characterisation was that of Aleksei Kozlov as Captain Hook. A tall and powerful figure whose skating was electrifyingly good, while his shading of the role with menace, humour and fear was first class. Equally impressive was the dinky Viktoriya Shklover, and irrepressible Wendy, darting like a bird over the ice and through the air.

A great performance came from Yury Kuprin as Hook's nemesis, the Crocodile. An interesting device was to introduce JM Barrie himself into
the show as a character interacting with his imaginitive creations.
It worked very well, no doubt largely due to the wonderful performance
of Valdis Mintals, as Barrie.

Gabriel Miller
Oxford Theatre Review


N-ice time had by all

It may be cold outside, but Oxford's New Theatre is freezing - literally.
The stage has been turned into an ice rink three inches thick for the
Wild Rose Russian Ice Stars' latest show, Peter Pan on Ice. Involving 14 tonnes of ice, 14,000 litres of water and 15km of below-floor pipe work, it's no mean feat. And that's before you get to the 27 cast members - many former World Olympic champions - who perform twice a day come hell, high water or recently broken legs.

I've never been much of an ice-skater myself. If I wanted to wobble around wildly while my legs went in opposite directions, I would take myself to the pub. But in the name of journalism, I took a spin on the
rink with two of the show's stars, Dmitry Naumkin (Peter Pan) and Andrey Chuviliaev (Captain Hook). Despite his slight frame, 30-year-old Dmitry proves a tower of strength, supporting me as I veer uneasily across the stage in some rather heavy-duty skates borrowed from the bemused
staff at Oxford Ice Rink.

The main principle, he tells me, is not to 'walk' but to glide. Easy for him
to say, he began skating aged three. I have just about managed to skate a few centimetres unassisted when Dmitry and Andrey begin talking rapidly in Russian, apparently planning some stunt involving me. Before
I have time to protest, they have picked me up and are holding me high above their heads. It is the first - and probably only - time I will feel Torville and Dean-esque on an ice rink. After a few more twirls, I decide
to call it a day and get back to terra firma before the leg cramps really take hold.

From the comfort of a theatre seat, I spoke to tour manager Julian Deplidge about the challenges of taking a large cast and temporary ice rink around the country.

At each venue, eight techicians must lay two 15m x 15m pool liners
on the stage and then build side supports to create a large but shallow swimming pool. They must then lay 15km of piping, connected to a header system and two chiller units outside.

The floor system - which resembles a giant radiator lying flat on the stage - is filled with anti-freeze chilled to -15 degrees. Four tonnes of crushed ice is then spread over the pipes and the rink is sprayed with water every 30 minutes until it is frozen up to 8cm thick. After about 18 hours, the rink is ready for rehearsals. Broken bones, burst pipes and puddles on stage are all hazards of the job.

Mr Deplidge said: "We have had pipes burst before and they're quite spectacular - we'll get a fountain coming several feet in the air. "It looks great, but obviously it has to be fixed immediately. We also have some accidents occasionally. One girl has just arrived back after having a broken leg and there are a lot of muscle strains."