Saturday, December 1, 2012

Turtle, Disney's Rockin Ever After, and a Lesson in Small Things

I had the good fortune to be invited to the latest Disney on Ice show, Rockin Ever After.   

I should preface this by telling you I got free tickets for my family simply for sharing tweets and writing something about it.  I know there are plenty of bloggers out there who write these things to get free stuff.   

I’m not one of them.   

I prefer to pay for a product and then, if it’s horrible, I’ll be free to say so.  But this was an experience and one that my son would probably not get otherwise.  I’ll happily accept those.

I should also say I wasn’t a huge fan of ice shows, although one well-kept (until now) family secret is just how much I know about ice-skating every four years during the Olympics.   (I’ve recently become a convert to ice shows.  My toddler changed my mind.)

I am now the father of a two and a half year old son who is obsessed with princesses, quite specifically Belle from Beauty and the Beast. 

Turtle is the kid who memorizes every song from Mary Poppins after a single viewing and then spends the next four months singing them in an ongoing medley. 

His only exposure to Belle was a Disney book we bought him and the library’s copy of Beauty and the Beast.  We watched it once.  It was decided shortly thereafter that we would be having a Beauty and the Beast birthday party for Grandma B while she was in town.  He watched it again.
I’m sure you can see where this is going. 

 “We going to Book’n to Barky Center?” 

Yes, son.  We are.

On Tuesday evening, November 27, my son and I jumped on the train from Queens and trekked to the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn.

It was my first time at that venue and it’s amazing.   A Nets practice court you can watch from the Starbucks?   Genius. 

Our hosts led us to a reception with other bloggers to meet the people behind the show, the Feld family.  The Felds, Kenneth Feld and his daughters Juliette and Nicole, produce Disney on Ice and were kind enough to spend time with us.  (More on this in a second.)

Skaters from the show came and talked to the kids and there was a special visit with Merida, star of the hit film, Brave. 

My kid is not shrinking violet and he has more girlfriends - actual beautiful adult female girlfriends - at our local coffee shop than I did all through college… and that’s quite a number. 

Merida was no exception.  Turtle was one of the youngest kids there and the line to meet her may have made him a little shy, but he found his way in.  He took the program for the show (which he’s slept with every night since and still carries with him everywhere) walked up to her, opened the page to her picture and sat on the floor in front of her.   Instead of a photo op, this turned into Turtle and Merida sitting on the floor, hanging out.

Yeah.  Hide your daughters. 

When it was time for the show, the wife and I strapped on our Mickey ears and the three of us head to our seats. 

Two observations:
  1. The Barclay’s Center is a great venue.  I can only imagine basketball games there… Or I can get tickets.  Which I will do right now.
  2.  Two, the food is great.  (Especially for a sports arena)  Get a burger.  Seriously. 
The show was great, a contrived talent show where each of the featured stories basically did a greatest hits from their films, only on ice.   The Little Mermaid, Tangled, Brave, and Beauty and the Beast were all well represented.

My son managed to sit, enthralled, well past his bedtime.

Therein lies my only critique:  the set pieces can seem long.    

But the show was great and Turtle has been singing the Gaston song and talking about his “friend Merida” non-stop. 

Fellow NYC Dad’s Group blogger, Adam Gertsacov, wrote a wonderfully thorough review of the show here.

What struck me most about this show was an announcement before the performances even started. 

Bruce Ratner, the Feld family, and Brooklyn Borough president Marti Markowitz (straight out of central casting) made a few announcements.  Much glad-handing ensued.

Then they dropped this bomb. 

The Feld Family donated ten thousand tickets to victims of Hurricane Sandy.

10,000 tickets.  Free. 

I have been trying to put together a post about my experiences heading out to Far Rockaway and Broad Channel after Hurricane Sandy.   I have some friends who deserve a shout out, Andrea Ciannavei, who helped coordinate much of the initial response through InterOccupy and Occupy Sandy, Ed Vassallo who has been on the ground since the first car could get out there (with the lovely Annabella Sciorra).

What is painfully clear is that so many of us don’t know what to do after a major catastrophe.  We want desperately to help and run headlong into the fray.  We want to do big things.

A good friend, actor Anson Mount, has been spending a good deal time out there ripping homes apart and doing yeoman’s work.  He initially thought giving away free gasoline out of a gigantic drum in the back of a truck was a brilliant idea until it turned into an episode of The Walking Dead.  (Ironically on the same network as his show.)   

The last thing I wanted was to look at my son and have him ask what I did and say, "Nothing." I spent time spreading information, sorting clothing, talking to victims, carrying the odd thing here or there.  These were all things assigned to us by some group or another.  

At one point I turned and found some guy trying to hack his fingers off while attempting to chase an onion around a cutting board with a knife.  I thought he worked for the food truck that was giving away free food but he was just a volunteer.  I walked up and said, “I’d love to help.  I’ve got mad knife skills.”  One of the guys handed me an F.Dick chef’s knife that had somehow lost its tip.  (Someone tried use it to open a can of beans.)

I worked my way through a bag of onions and carrots and celery and we fed people.. 

I ended up finding a place where my skills could be put to use.  Cutting vegetables, making a soup – these things still seemed too small.  I wanted a bigger task. 

So they sent me to pick up shells off a football field. 

I should have stayed with the soup.

The Felds had a show.  They had entertainment and a warm arena filled with laughter and cheers. 

For a family who has lost everything, this is a moment of joy that they will never forget.  A moment away from filling out FEMA forms, finding shelter, tracking any belongings that weren’t washed away with the storm. 

It’s a cup of warm soup in the cold when your power is off and the winter wind is picking up. 

That’s not so small a thing.

Disney on Ice at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn through December 2.

Tickets via the Barclays Center web page here.

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