`Disney on Ice Presents Toy Story’ at the Allstate Arena

By Jae-Ha Kim
Chicago Sun-Times
September 29, 2000

“Disney On Ice Presents Toy Story” is a case where bigger really is better.

Taking Disney’s animated “Toy Story” to ice, the production–which opened Thursday night at the Allstate Arena–creates a gargantuan world where windows are 6-feet tall, beds are 10 feet wide and adult skaters are, by comparison, toy sized.

“Toy Story” begins in a young boy’s bedroom. When the household isn’t looking, the toys come to life. Their feelings mirror that of human beings. They get jealous, flirt and long for home.

All the favorites from the movie version are here, though Woody the cowboy is more loose limbed and fey than his big-screen counterpart. His rival, Buzz Lightyear, doesn’t realize that he’s a toy and believes that he actually is a space ranger. Had he looked in the mirror, the big-chinned toy would’ve realized that he really was Jay Leno’s doppelganger.

Erector Baby and Roller Bob are back, but the Disney crew concocted a few new toys for this production, including a creepy frog/bear hybrid and a womanly rag doll.

When they all converge on the ice during a scene where the toys are in danger of being mauled by a cruel child, the production takes on a horrific edge that gives the show a nice little kick.

Choreographed by Robin Cousins, a gold medalist at the 1980 Olympics, the skating “Toy Story” is a surprisingly smooth affair, considering that the majority of performers are wearing clunky costumes that can’t be comfortable to skate in.

Broadway costume designer Frank Krenz did a formidable job outfitting these skaters to resemble plastic toys. Mr. Potato Head and his missus are a delight, as are Slinky Dog and the bikini-clad Smurfs. But the platoon of Army green soldiers are his piece de resistance. Moving in stiff unison, they look like life-sized toy soldiers, from their blank, green faces to the plasticlike veneer of their uniforms.

The ice show is set to music from the original motion picture soundtrack, composed by Randy Newman and featuring the voices of Tom Hanks and Tim Allen as Woody and Buzz, respectively.

Songs such as “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” can be grating on their own. But as background music to the simple storyline, they lend a little sweetness that is not unappealing.

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