Spunky skater at home in latest Disney on Ice role
With her wavy red locks and spirited demeanor, it’s no surprise that Disney on Ice casting staff picked Taylor Firth to portray two of its fiery heroines.
A New York native, Firth made her Disney debut as Jessie the Cowgirl in the “Toy Story 3” ice show. This time around, the 21-year-old delivers spunky Merida from “Brave” in the Disney on Ice production of “Rockin’ Ever After,” which hits Rosemont’s Allstate Arena for a Jan. 23-27 run followed by a Jan. 30-Feb. 10 stay at the United Center.
In “Rockin’ Ever After,” which is inspired by television’s talent show craze, Mickey and Minnie seek out Disney superstars to help Goofy put on a talent show. Their search takes the audience on a tour of several classic Disney stories — “Little Mermaid,” “Cinderella,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “Tangled” and “Brave.”
For Firth, a skater since the age of 6, working for Disney is a dream come true. The national and international competitor, who followed her mother and sister into figure skating, says show skating is her passion. She credits her coaches for sparking that interest.
“My coaches that were show skaters themselves, they really encourage their students to take on characters on the ice and perform, not just skate for competition, but perform and have fun with it,” Firth said.
(Fans might recognize Firth as the lead in the remake of the film “Ice Castles,” a film about a girl who dreams of being a champion figure skater — an experience Firth said helped hone her acting skills.)
Firth is thrilled to bring Merida, the spunky heroine of “Brave,” to life on ice.
“I’ve just had such a great time putting Merida on ice in front of people and showing everyone her character,” Firth said. “And I really think that her story is something kids need to hear nowadays. Your parents teach you, certainly, and bring you up, but you have to follow your own destiny, too. ... You have to go after what you want. And that’s exactly what Merida is encouraging people — kids, and even adults, to do — is to go after your dreams, even if it’s not exactly the popular idea.”
Among Firth’s favorite scenes in the show are when Little Mermaid Ariel goes aerial, and the “Brave” segment in which suitors try to win the Merida’s hand in an archery contest.
And even though “Rockin’ Ever After” may focus on Disney heroines, Firth said, “It’s not just a show for little girls; it’s a show for guys too,” full of rock stars and derring-do from the “Tangled” pub thugs, the servants from “Beauty and the Beast,” Maximus the “Tangled” horse and the “Brave” archery contest.
Jennifer Burklow is a local freelance writer.
♦ The Museum of Science and Industry hosts a Black Creativity Family Day in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Jan. 21 at 5700 S. Lake Shore Drive. Meet and speak with scientists and visit hands-on science stations during this free event. Also at MSI, the juried Black Creativity Art Exhibition will run Jan. 26-Feb. 24; new this year is artwork from high school students. Exhibit is included in general admission of $15 for adults and $10 for kids 3 to 11. Call (773) 684-1414 or visit www.msichicago.org.
♦ The Joffrey Ballet acknowledges MLK Day with an African dance master class with Andrea Vinson from noon to 1 p.m. on the third floor of Joffrey Tower, 10 E. Randolph. Suitable for families, the class will teach traditional African dance steps accompanied by live drummers. Cost is $15 per person; reservations are required by Jan. 18 at www.joffrey.org/mlk or (312) 784-4600.
♦ Three concerts also pay tribute to MLK. At 5 p.m. Jan. 20 the Music Institute of Chicago presents the 180-member Brotherhood Chorale performing gospel and jazz arrangements at Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Ave., Evanston. Admission is free; call (847) 905-1500, ext. 108, or visit www.musicinst.org for more information. Chicago Sinfonietta offers its tribute to King with concerts at 3 p.m. Jan. 20 at Wentz Concert Hall at North Central College, 171 E. Chicago Ave., Naperville (tickets $40-$50), and 7:30 p.m. Jan. 21 at Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan (tickets $26-$50, $10 for students). The program features a rare performance of “The Oak” by renowned African-American composer and Chicagoan Florence Price and gospel music. Call (312) 236-3681, ext. 2, or visit www.chicagosinfonietta.org for more information.
Jennifer Burklow is a local free-lance writer.