The Wells Fargo Center was packed Friday night for that rock concert of ice shows, Disney on Ice Presents Frozen. The Ed Sullivan-era Beatles could have shown up in Philadelphia and not received the adoration that Olaf the snowman got when he skated to center ice at the 19,500-seat arena.
The audience - mainly children under 10, including hundreds of tiny girls in Elsa dresses, plus parents - likely wouldn't have cared if the skating was mediocre. Elsa and Anna were there and waving to them.
But the show was adorable, probably Disney on Ice's best yet. The cast encouraged audience participation, which only added to the charm. It became a sing-along, with a chorus of thousands joining in on every lyric.
The four principals all have serious skating chops. Former U.S. national competitors Rebecca Bereswill and Taylor Firth played Elsa and Anna (Firth also starred in the remake of Ice Castles). Longtime Disney on Ice skater Adam Loosley, a Canadian, played Hans, and former British national competitor Jono Partridge skated the part of Kristoff.
As in most ice shows, the skating was mid-level. Jumps were mostly limited to easy double toe loops, probably to keep the errors down and the Disney mystique alive. The principals also performed some lifts and quite a few spins, including nice laybacks and death drops. But there were also long sections filled with simple footwork.
Some former Olympians work behind the scenes, including pairs skater Natasha Kuchiki and ice dancer Ben Agosto, who skated with Tanith Belbin and trained for a time at IceWorks in Aston.
Agosto's hand in the choreography shows in sections such as Elsa's coronation ball, which has couples skating a combination of the American and European waltzes.
Some of the most charming bits include Olaf's song "In Summer," which has company skaters dressed as flowers, butterflies, and bees performing a synchronized skating kickline; the trolls skating a long pinwheel to "He's a Bit of a Fixer Upper"; and the two skaters embodying the reindeer Sven.
Gregory A. Poplyk's costumes were stunners, brightly colored and detailed interpretations of the movie clothes. Elsa's famous blue dress was a sparkling beauty.
The ice show is an abbreviated telling of the story, and parts could be confusing to anyone who (gasp!) has not seen the movie. Poor acoustics make it even more challenging.
Also, be prepared either to say no a lot or to "Let It Go" - your money, that is. The tickets are just the start. Parking is $20, a program plus coloring book $25, a bag of popcorn or a snow cone served in a souvenir cup shaped like Olaf's head $12. Every few feet when you enter and exit the arena there is something to buy, eat, or do.
Disney on Ice Presents Frozen
Through Sunday at the Wells Fargo Center, 3601 S. Broad St.
Tickets: $30-$105 http://www.wellsfargocenterphilly.com/