By Sue Botos
From Broadway to Disney to Motown, there will be something for everyone as Rocky River skating students put favorite “Musical Memories” on ice at this year’s show, which will take place March 23 and 24 at the Hamilton Ice Arena.
Skating Director Mary McClaine said that 200 of 600 learn-to-skate students volunteered to participate in the show, which has been in rehearsal since February. “This is the biggest skating program in Cleveland,” she said.
When she arrived at Hamilton Ice Arena 19 years ago, McClaine planned on heading up the power skating program, but was asked to fill the learn-to-skate coordinator’s position. “So here I am,” said McClaine during a recent practice, featuring several Disney Princesses. McClaine added that since the shows are such a big undertaking, they are produced every other year.
McClaine added that while the program is officially called “learn-to-skate,” advanced freestyle skating classes are offered. “This is unique. They usually have to move on to private lessons once they reach this level,” said McClaine, adding that these skaters are typically working on single and double jumps. “This class has the longest waiting list,” she added.
While, during this practice session, Snow White and Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother twirled through their routines, McClaine emphasized that the skating program had plenty of offer boys. For example, she said power-skating gets young hockey players to build up their speed.
She added that the show featured three boys’ numbers, one including “Batman.” “When that music comes on, it brings a smile to everyone’s face because they recognize it,” McClaine noted.
The Disney characters are familiar skating mates to instructor Chris Mattern, aka The Phantom of the Opera. He and fiancee Sandra Draganoiu, whom he met at the rink, have toured with Disney on Ice. “It’s so gratifying working with the kids and getting them to reach their goals,” commented the three-time U.S. National Figure Skating Championship qualifier. He and Draganoiu will skate a pairs number to “The Prayer” by Andrea Bocelli.
An 18-year coaching veteran, Mattern said he took some time off, but returned. “Mary is one of the reasons I kept with coaching,” he said.
McClaine added that other instructors will also do solo numbers. “The students get to see their instructors skate as soloists and in pairs,” she said.
SIDEBAR: The Rocky River Ice Show will be held March 23 at 7 p.m. and March 24 at 3 p.m. Tickets are on sale at the rink box office. Call 440-356-5650 for more information.