News Column

Figure Skating Club presents 'Willy Wonka On Ice'

May 9, 2014

By Shea Conner, St. Joseph News-Press, Mo.

May 09--They won't be skating on a rink made of frozen chocolate, but other than that, the St. Joseph Figure Skating Club is pulling out all the stops for its upcoming performances of "Willy Wonka on Ice."

In addition to a theatrical show by the local youth skating club, each event will include performances by Team Amore of Kansas City, the Griffon Gliders synchronized skating team and, most prominently, U.S. Figure Skating Team member Alex Johnson. Figure skaters and coaches from around the region are being called in to pull off the "Wonka" spectacle.

"We have so many characters that the Hockey Association is helping us out," laughs Mavis Anderson, the President of the St. Joseph Figure Skating Club. "We needed Oompa-Loompas."

"Willy Wonka on Ice" will be presented at 7 p.m.May 9 and at 2 and 7 p.m. on May 10 at Bode Ice Arena, 2500 Southwest Parkway.

While last year's performance of "Fractured Fairytales" randomly delved into several classic children's tales, this year's show will follow Roald Dahl's famous tale of five kids who collect golden tickets to earn the right to tour Willy Wonka's mysterious chocolate factory. Anderson says "Willy Wonka" will feel more like a performance of "musical theater on ice," blending acting (with dialogue), interpretive skating and even some moments of ice dancing.

The 60 kids (ages 5 to 17) who make up the show have been rehearsing since late March, working with coach Debbie Cole on some superb choreography. Anderson says their hard work will show this weekend.

"It's really entertaining, and visually, it's an awesome show to watch," she says.

Club member Ian Smith is one to look out for. The 14-year-old recently won the Southwest Regional Championship in Texas, and he will provide the show's ice dancing duet -- as the Golden Tickets themselves -- with Morgan DeFigio.

"He's the 2014 regional champion this year, and we haven't had a regional champion from our club since 1978. He's really spectacular. He's going to go somewhere," Anderson says.

Of course, all eyes will naturally be on Johnson when he hits the rink. Known for his tremendous camel spins and triple lutzes, the 24-year-old Minnesota native has climbed the ranks since winning the silver medal at the novice U.S. Championships in 2007. The Team USA skater won a junior bronze medal in 2009 and finished in seventh place at the official U.S. Figure Skating Championships last year.

In addition to his performances with the team, he'll hold private and group lessons with the young skaters on Friday.

"Having a big-time skater like that will draw more people to the rink," Anderson says. "But it's great because he's also doing a lot with the kids."

If you'd like to watch one of the greatest ice skaters in the nation tear it up with the young local talent, you're in luck. Tickets can be purchased at Bode Ice Arena on the day of the show.

Tickets for "Willy Wonka on Ice" are $7 for adults and $3 for children. Call 233-1567 for more information.

Shea Conner can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @stjoelivedotcom.


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Source: St. Joseph News-Press (MO)

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