It takes a lot of people to cover 100 Years of Disney Magic.
"This is one of the largest shows in the company," according to Casey Sullivan, one of the skaters with the Disney on Ice production that opens tonight at the Covelli Centre for a seven-show run. "There are a lot of props and stuff that have to be moved. We have one more trucks than the other shows. This is my third year, and the other two shows were a bit smaller."
A cast of 47 performers cover highlights from the entertainment company's history, and most of them, like Sullivan, play multiple roles. He skates the roles of Prince Charming opposite Cinderella in the first act and "Mulan" villain Shan-Yu in the second act. He also skates in a number based on the Disneyland / Disney World attraction "It's a Small World."
"I'm a Disney nut myself. I love Disneyland and Disney World," Sullivan said. "'It's a Small World' is a neat number. Anyone who's been to Disneyland or Disney World will recognize that right off the bat."
In a sense, Sullivan has been training for Disney on Ice since he first started skating.
"When I was 6 years old, my first skating program ever was to 'Aladdin,'" he said. "I was Aladdin."
Growing up in Eugene, Ore., he skated competitively in both singles and pairs skating and practiced ice dancing as well. And during one holiday show at his home rink, he skated the role of the Beast from "Beauty and the Beast."
"When I graduated from the University of Oregon, I didn't want to go from graduation to the work force just yet," he said.
A skating friend recommended Disney on Ice, and the idea of traveling around the country and around the world appealed to Sullivan, so he put together a video and included his skating resume and got a call a few months later.
His competitive experience both solo and in pairs was an asset for the new job.
"I think being in pairs has been a little more helpful," Sullivan said. "Being 6-foot-1, I can do more roles ... In competitive skating the best males are 5'9", 5'10" or smaller because being smaller gives you an advantage in jumping. Pairs skaters usually are a little taller. We have to be taller than our partners."
While Sullivan had plenty of skating experience, he discovered that acting was just as important.
"Acting is huge," he said. "Yes, you need to be a good skater, but if you can't act at all, if you can't portray a character, portray a scene, you're not going to be very successful. You don't have to be the best jumper, the best spinner, have the most tricks. If you can portray what a character is like, you're going to have a lot of success here."
He credited the production staff with helping him learn to create characters on the ice.
"I'm pretty outgoing, and we have a great choreographer, a great director and our production directors are great, too, at helping us get into the role and learning how that particular character acts and stands. Shan-Yu has a certain stance that's very menacing, and he's quite a mean guy. That is one of the funnest roles I've done so far. A lot of people say that villains are more fun to play, and I think that's true."
There are plenty of characters to portray in "100 Years of Magic." Before the show is over, the audience will see the Disney Princesses and their beaus, a musical number from "Aladdin" with 20 skating Genies, segments inspired by the amusement parks and the television show "The Mickey Mouse Club" and characters and songs from "Toy Story," "Finding Nemo," "The Incredibles," "Mulan," "Pinocchio" and "The Lion King."
Songs include "When You Wish Upon a Star," "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah," "Beauty and the Beast," "Under the Sea" and "Can You Feel the Love Tonight."
"There's a great finale number that brings everything together," Sullivan said. "It's really cool seeing all these different characters on the ice at the same time."