Theatre Royal stage transformed into ice rink

The Theatre Royal stage has been turned to ice as world class skaters bring the classic love story of Swan Lake to Norwich this week.

The Imperial Ice Stars' production of Swan Lake on Ice begins its run in the city tonight, and before the performers are able to create their magic to Tchaikovsky's music the venue's stage needed to be transformed into a 10 metre by 11 metre skating rink.

Production manager Paul Mansfield explained that it took from 2pm yesterday until about 9am today to create the rink.

He said the process began with putting two giant plastic pond liners and a wooden frame on the stage to create what looks like a giant baking tray.

This was filled with rubber piping filled with antifreeze and which is chilled down to -12C (10F).

'Three tons of crushed ice was then put on to the stage, and then someone stayed through the night spraying water every 30 minutes to build up the ice rink, and then from 9am today we had our ice rink,' he said.

'By the end of the week there will be about 10 tons of ice on the rink because every day more water is sprayed onto the rink to maintain it.'

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He said the touring show adapts the size of the rink to fit each venue - it can go up to about 15 metres by 15 metres - and while the Theatre Royal rink is one of the smaller rinks the cast has performed on, he said Norwich audiences would not miss out on any of the shows' spectacular ice skating tricks.

'The ice skaters are all incredibly talented and what they can perform in a small space is amazing,' he said.

'The tricks and things you see them perform are incredible. Some of the tricks you see you will never have seen anywhere else.'

The show features 26 world, European and national championship skaters who between them hold more than 250 competition medals.

Among them is Olga Sharutenko who plays the role of Odette, the white swan, and has been working in theatre for 11 years.

She said: 'We are all figure skaters who all came from sport. I came to do theatre on ice and I totally fell in love with it. I am still skating but it is more emotional, more beautiful and it is more creative than sport.'

The Imperial Ice Stars toured the company's original Swan Lake on Ice production between 2006 and 2008, playing to more than 1.5 million worldwide.

The tour of the new production, which features fresh choreography and new costumes, is now about eight months into a two year and 22-country world tour which has so far seen the cast perform in New Zealand, Australia, Portugual and Spain as well as various venues in the UK.

Swan Lake on Ice is at Norwich Theatre Royal until Saturday.

• For more information and to book tickets visit www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk or call 01603 630000.

• Do you know somebody destined for great things on the stage or screen? Call reporter Emma Knights on 01603 772428 or email emma.knights@archant.co.uk

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