B2 Reading Multiple Choice Exam 2
The famous Holiday on Ice
Holiday on Ice originated in the United States in 1943, and was the brainchild of Emery Gilbert of Toledo, Ohio, an engineer and builder who created a portable ice rink. He took his idea of a traveling show to Morris Chalfen, a Minneapolis executive, who supplied the financing, and George Tyson, who used his theatrical background to create the show. Since then, given that most people don't seem to be acquainted with anyone who's ever been, surprisingly over 300 million people have seen the show and it has become the most popular live entertainment in the world.
The shows focus more on music rather than glamour, which has changed from broadway scores to pop and rock. Novelty acts such as acrobats have been added regularly to the main production numbers in recent years, and the backstage atmosphere is an odd mix of gym class and workplace. A curtained-off section at the back of the arena, called the girls' dressing room, is where the girls have a small area for their make-up. It would be more accurately described as a corridor, with beige, cracked walls and cheap temporary tables set up along the length of it.
By no stretch of the imagination could anyone call it an interesting place to work, especially if they saw the rows of dirty blue and brown plastic seating and the grey and mucky area round the ice-rink. But this is a complete contrast to the show itself. The lights come from Texas, The audio system from California, Montreal supplies the smoke effects and former British Olympic skater Robin Cousins, MBE, is now creative director for the company.
He has a simple theory to describe what he wants to do. He wants to give the people what they want to see, but in a way that they did not expect, leaving them stunned and amazed. The music is used to stimulate the audience, but more importantly to inspire the skaters, who have to repeat the show every night. His aim is to make sure everyone gets to exactly the right place on the ice at the right time, because the banks of lights in the ceiling are set to those places, and if the skaters are all half a metre out, they'll be illuminating empty ice. Finally, he needs to produce something that can be sold in a number of countries at the same time.
Professional ice skating is not very well paid and Cousins had to skate for the show himself when he stopped competing because he was financially unable to retire. He learnt the hard way that it was impossible to give championship winning performances every night, and had to compromise by giving about 75% regularly. So, even though he does what he does to pay the rent, his enthusiasm is unmistakable. He also makes the point that many of the moves in the show can never be seen in competition because the rules don't allow them.
So, if you ever get the chance to see Holiday On Ice, don't miss it, because it's impossible not to be swept up in the whole thing and you'll have to try pretty hard not to enjoy it.