BY KAYLA PONGRAC
Our Town Correspondent
Disney princesses such as Ariel, Belle, Cinderella, Rapunzel, Tiana, Jasmine, Aurora and Snow White are set to embark on inspirational adventures inside the Cambria County War Memorial Arena this month when Feld Entertainment’s “Disney on Ice Presents Dream Big” comes to town Dec. 14-18.
And it will be none other than Tinkerbell, played by Ekaterina “Kate” Larionova, who will be leading the way on what is bound to be a magical and memorable journey for all ages.
Larionova, who grew up in Pervouralsk, Russia, has been performing with Feld Entertainment since 2013. She said she is particularly excited about this show, and for the opportunity to portray a character who “links the stories together and makes the magic possible.”
“This show features nine storylines,” Larionova said. “You’ll meet classic Disney characters like Snow White, as well as modern Disney characters from movies like ‘Frozen.’
“This is such a good show for all generations. We have so many cool things going on, including acrobats doing really cool tricks and sing-alongs to many Disney hits. We’re all going to have a great time.”
Larionova began skating when she was 5 years old because her mother wanted her to live a healthy lifestyle. She has been skating for almost 20 years now, and knows for certain that skating is her calling because when she took some time off from her sport, she realized how unhappy she was.
“I didn’t feel accomplished, so that’s why I returned to skating,” Larionova said. “For a little while, I even worked as a reporter, but that’s when I realized I couldn’t live without skating.”
In addition to skating, Larionova enjoys aerial gymnastics, swimming, reading and spending time with her family.
She also enjoys traveling. Larionova has travelled all over the world with her fellow performers. This “Disney on Ice Presents Dream Big” tour will bring Larionova back to Johnstown for a third time. The last time she was in Johnstown, she “ran into five deer.”
As a performer, Larionova usually has the opportunity to sightsee and enjoy what each city she visits has to offer.
“I love taking pictures,” she said. “My husband is a photographer, so we try to get out and see as much as we can.”
When she’s not on the ice playing Tinkerbell, Larionova spends a lot of time working out so that she can stay in shape.
If Larionova’s learned anything about her character during this tour, it’s that “people across America love Tinkerbell.”
“It is priceless to see people’s faces light up with joy,” she said. “Every performance is different, and every time I think how it’s so much fun to get out there and bring the Disney magic to life. I’m so blessed to be able to do this job.”
Larionova knows a thing or two about “dreaming big,” and she said that playing Tinkerbell is basically a dream come true for her.
“Just recently, my sister sent me a picture of me when I was 4 years old,” Larionova said. “I was wearing a cute little dress with Ariel on it. So, growing up, I watched Disney movies all the time, but I never thought I’d play a live Disney princess on ice.
“I come from a small town in Russia, and my family is so proud of me in terms of how far I’ve gotten in my career.”
Larionova plans to continue performing as part of Feld Entertainment because she enjoys touring, skating and inspiring a new generation of Disney fans to follow their dreams, too.
“This show is about dreaming big, and I think that it inspires people to accomplish anything that they set their minds to,” she said.
In “Disney on Ice Presents Dream Big,” audiences will “make a splash” with Ariel; watch Rapunzel, Cinderella and Belle learn to use and appreciate their magical powers and travel with Anna, Elsa and Olaf to the land of Arendelle, where they realize that true love is the greatest magic of all.
Meanwhile, characters such as Jasmine, Snow White, Aurora and Tiana can remind audiences that strength and kindness go hand-in-hand.
Kenneth Feld, who serves as producer of the show, said that when he and his staff were working on putting the show together, they reflected on “what makes Disney’s leading ladies so unique.”
“Having three daughters, it didn’t take long to realize that every princess had one thing in common: Each one had a dream and the determination to make it a reality,” Feld said. “We wanted to share that inspirational message with our audiences by celebrating the stories of these courageous young women and the friends that helped them along the way.”
The sets, lighting, choreography and other elements of the show are combined to make audience members young and old feel inspired upon leaving the Cambria County War Memorial Arena.
In addition to performers such as Larionova, “Disney on Ice Presents Dream Big” is being made possible by Feld and his team of professionals, including director Patty Vincent, creative director Jerry Bilik, costume designer Ilona Somogyi, choreographer Cindy Stuart, set designer Robert Little and lighting designer Peter Morse, among others.
Performances on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday are to begin at 7 p.m. On Saturday, performances are to be held at 1 p.m. and again at 5 p.m. On Sunday, performances are scheduled for noon and 4 p.m.
Tickets for “Disney on Ice Presents Dream Big” are on sale now and can be purchased by visiting www.ticketmaster.com or calling 1-800-745-3000. Tickets can also be purchased at the Cambria County War Memorial Arena during regular business hours, which are Mondays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The box office is also open on Saturdays during event days from noon until show time.
Cambria County Way Memorial Arena is located at 326 Napoleon St. in Johnstown.
For more information about “Disney on Ice Presents Dream Big,” visit www.facebook.com/DisneyOnIce or https://www.feldentertainment.com/Shows/DisneyOnIce.
Karen Gregorchik, War Memorial assistant general manager, said she hopes that ticket-holders enjoy the show.
“Disney on Ice brings the kid out in all of us,” Gregorchik said. “It is great to see all generations come to this event, as everyone from young to old come out to see and enjoy watching their favorite Disney characters dance to great musical favorites on ice.”