Motorbikes on ice send chills down your spine in this fast-moving show
It's what happens when the circus meets ice skating. Brave, bold and unapologetically brash.
Welcome to Speed, the 2012 offering from Holiday on Ice that will get the pulses racing.
It promises all the usual razzle dazzle that fans of the ice skating extravaganza have come to expect from its annual date at Exeter's Westpoint arena.
This year, however, expect the unexpected.
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Add to the elegant jumps and traditional throws a lot of fire, two motorcycles and one Wall of Death.
Yes, creative director Bart Doerfler has pushed the proverbial boat out with Speed, a blood-and-thunder show that offers something for everyone – including non skaters.
"I am not a skater – I come from a non-skater background," said Bart, one night after Speed mesmerised the opening night, sell-out crowd in Utrecht, Netherlands. "What do I want to see on the ice? Motorcycles!"
And so it was done – a full-throttle throatiness that reverberates throughout the venue with an unmistakable smell that makes you ask yourself just why this hasn't been done before.
But motorcycles alone were not enough to excite Bart, so why not ask two of your principal performers – Forest Ryan McKinnon and Melody Le Moal – to learn to ride them? And, in the case of Ryan, perform a jump off a ramp... all of it on ice?
"It's awesome," said lead male skater Forest Ryan McKinnon. "And about time, I say."
"It is really outside the box," continued the enthusiastic American whose charisma is as ever-present as the spotlight that follows him. "You think it's an ice skating show, and that we'll just be posing and waving... but it's not like that.
"How many times can you see the same ice show? Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with all the glitz and the glam, but this one is right out there. It's amazing."
Speed opens with a flurry and never really stops. From the opening routine, Speed of Instinct, to the finale, this line-up of professional showmen and women never miss a beat throughout the two-hour, ten-act show. And Exeter audiences will again be treated to the ice dancing majesty of Darya Perminova and Evgeny Belyanin, a tandem who make the difficult look effortless with their seamless symmetry. The pair were easily the highlight of last year's Tropicana show and continue to shine in this show of many, many stars.
Among them is 25-year-old Jade Whitlock, one of two Britons looking forward to the UK premiere of the show in Exeter on November 15. She has been a part of the Holiday on Ice fabric for the past eight years and has seen the times – and performances – change.
But none, says Jade, has been more gruelling than Speed. "Every year the shows get harder and harder and the standard of skating is higher and higher, so you have to prove yourself," says Jade, who started skating in Southampton at the age of four.
"This show is a lot more strenuous than anything I have done before – it's not just pretty dance moves, it's a lot of hard work. You feel exhausted at the end but it's great."
Her words are shared by fellow Brit Tom Paulson, who will feature among the Speed cast – as he did with Tropicana before it.
"This so much more different than Tropicana. There are no lulls at all, no chance to slow down or take a break.
"It is go, go, go right from the very start and I love it," said Tom, from Nottingham.
The opening night in Utrech did prove to be a challenge, with a handful of falls across the two-hour show. But given many of the skaters had just two weeks to get their part of Speed ready for opening night, it was hardly surprising.
"I don't mind if we fall sometimes," said Tom. "It lets people know that what we are doing is live and it can be dangerous at times."
By the time the show arrives in Exeter next week, there is little doubt it will be even better. And that can only be a good thing.
Put simply, if Speed looked this good with just two weeks of rehearsals, it will undoubtedly be the best Holiday on Ice performance the Westcountry has ever seen.
Speed will starts its four-day, eight-show run at Westpoint in Exeter on November 15. For tickets call the ticket hotline on 0844 581 1314 or visit www.holidayonice.co.uk