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Jul 22, 2013
Arlington, VA
BGW said:
For the first time in 13 years, the stage of the Royal Palace Theatre will once again glisten with the return of a full-scale ice show. ‘Twas That Night, an all-new ice show, reimagines the magic of Christmas Eve and the classic poem A Visit From St. Nicholas. World-champion figure skater Elvis Stojko brings this beloved Christmas story to life, on ice. Combining the grace of professional figure skating with cherished Christmas music, original holiday songs and magnificent visuals, ‘Twas That Night wishes a happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night at Busch Gardens® Christmas Town™.
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RE: 'Twas That Night

Cool logo...

Thomas said:
I wish the "Coca-Cola" was larger.

Busch Gardens is taking a stand on Christmas. Everyone knows Coca Cola is a key component of Christmas and as Busch Gardens makes the logo the smallest portion of the image, they are saying Christmas has no place at Christmas Town. I am appalled that they could lose the meaning of the season this way. I think we should boycott Christmas Town.
Well urban legend does say that Coke invented the popular image of Santa Claus, so maybe you're right!

Also, I never actually saw anyone outside of that one video ACTUALLY be offended by the whole cup thing. Just a whole lot of people complaining about people supposedly complaining about it.
I have heard rumors that don't sound to promising. From what I have heard they have just recently finished getting things ready and are only now fitted costumes to the people. I also heard that they have only now started doing full rehearsals for the shows. With three days before opening day this doesn't sound promising.
But the cast from what I hear is also very professional for a theme park ice show, I mean it has a former Olympian, his wife, and from what I hear, other really high ranking figure skaters. Full show rehearsals are just the parts they have already learned lined up together with no breaks, it doesn't take long for that to get smoothed out. Like most shows, there maybe some kinks for the first few days, it'll straighten itself out, as all shows do.
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You can say this show was love at first site for me. I have seen many different theme park ice shows(some Christmas ones), and a couple touring ice shows, but this just takes the cake with no competition. In my opinion, this competes with SNM as the best CT show, probably wins, maybe even with wide margins. The talent is great, the music is fantastic, the sets and costumes were nearly flawless(don't forget to look up on the roof top), they even made a good use of pyrotechnics without going overboard. The mood goes from happy to very deep.

The one thing I love is that this defies every normal ice show out there. In my opinion, ice shows are so uniform, the theme and music may change between them, but they all seem so similar. The choreography and show sequence in TTN is like no other theme park ice show I've seen, and it even does a fantastic job at telling a story.

Before everyone complains about the two kids, I have to say they're not all that bad, quite talented IMO. But I just don't think a show with this storyline would make sense without kids. And they're not really all that intrusive. I think it would be the same way with SNM, however, luckily the kids in this show have no direct dialogue.

All I can say now is get out there and see it for yourself.

Here's a picture of the set.(the bottom portion ;))


I hope to upload pictures of the performance later tonight or tomorrow.
For what it is worth, I disagree with at least 95% of that opinion.

My impression was that the performers didn't have enough time to rehearse. The show didn't flow very well for me. Most oddly, there was a component that half the audience couldn't see.
^While I wouldn't go that far, I think I may wait before I give negative criticisms. Ice shows under certain conditions is often a recipe for disaster, but 'Twas That Night was nothing like that. I'm still waiting to post a more in-depth review, but I must say that the creative people whom I root for the most really pulled through this strongly. Set, lighting, and sound were all fantastic.
Nicole said:
My impression was that the performers didn't have enough time to rehearse.  The show didn't flow very well for me.  Most oddly, there was a component that half the audience couldn't see.

I fail to see most of these criticisms. Out of the the 4 times I have seen the show, out of what has been 6 shows total, I have seen very few incidents. From what I recall, I have seen only one fall, and maybe 3 or 4 slips out of jumps. While more rehearsing may be able to reduce the chances of things like this happening, it will never make every performance perfect. I have seen an equal amount of incidents in one showing of an ice show that has been performing for months, like say, Iceploration. Heck, things like that will even happen in the olympics, ice is ice, and it is very unpredictable. Also, I know the kids have a couple rehearsed falls that are supposed to happen.

I found no issues with the flow of the show. In my opinion, the plot was quite simple, and based off a story the vast majority of the area public know by heart. You're introduced to a family, and then the family goes to sleep. The kids start to dream of toys and things they want for Christmas, which is all brought to life in their dreams by the Sugar Plum Fairy. The Dad has an encounter with Santa and then they wake up and enjoy Christmas morning together. I guess some people may not have been able to figure that out. But as I said earlier, I've never seen an ice show that has been able to display such a plot, or a plot at all so well.

The roof top portion is actually visible to the vast majority of the audience, only the first eight-ish rows(I say that from experience, having sat in 4 different places now) aren't able to see it. It really isn't that important to see, it's just if you are able to see it, it's a cool special effect. There may have been a way to do it so everyone in the audience was able to see it, but I'm honestly glad the park did it the way they did.
My initial thoughts on 'Twas That Night: "Wow!"

This show far exceeded my expectations. I've never been a big fan of choreography-centered shows, so I figured this would be just another Miracles-type show to sit through, with the addition of ice as a gimmick. Boy was I wrong.

First off, 'Twas That Night is not just another theme park show. I have seen other ice shows, such as Iceploration at Busch Gardens Tampa, that felt rather bland to me: ho-hum choreography set to redundant sets and abstract costumes. This show feels pristine and high-caliber. It is of a quality that I would expect from a I show I'd pay to see.

'Twas That Night features very regal, powerful custom-orchestrated music that gives a very grand tone to the show. The soundtrack was actually my favorite piece of the show; I felt that it flowed beautifully from scene to scene. Plus, it translated perfectly onto the onstage action, without presenting the same old, cliched type of music usually associated with skating. (This isn't some dainty, graceful music played for 30 minutes straight: it's a powerful mix of re-orchestrated Christmas classics and catchy new songs). The music corresponded with the action on stage very nicely. For instance, in the "toy land" scene, somebody pulls around a big choo-choo train, and the music changes tempo in time to the "chug-chug-chug" of the train.

The story is awesome. I suppose it is hard to mess up "'Twas the Night Before Christmas," but like Scrooge No More is a brilliant musical retelling of "A Christmas Carol", 'Twas That Night is the same for its original story. The scenes flowed well from one to the next, and did not dwell too long on any one scene (something even Scrooge No More is guilty of). Many parts, especially the reveal of Santa on the rooftop, were just magical.

Finally, the skating was pretty damn good, too. Mr. Stojko is, unsurprisingly, an incredible skater. I've always found skating incredibly boring, but the skating here kept me captivated the entire time. Perhaps it was the choreography, which all meshed together so well to drive the story forward. There were a few stumbles in there, which is an unfortunate effect of not having enough time to rehearse. Hopefully this will be smoothed out in due time, but even Olympic athletes stumble (or worse), which just shows how hard skating is.

My complaints are fairly minimal. Apparently there are parts in the show where the child skaters are supposed to fall down, which I guess is supposed to display their childishness, but I'm not sure I like it. Everyone in my group thought the kids were actually messing up, and felt bad that they were making mistakes, so I would suggest removing the fake falls.

I'd also really like the seating to be fixed. The entire middle section is left for guests with Quick Queues Priority Seating Passes, which was a little ridiculous, because it did not get nearly full. This forced a ton of other people, myself included, to take far inferior seats in the back or on the sides of the theater, while latecomers were allowed to take the vacant VIP seats right before the show started. It pissed me off, to say the least. It would also be nice if the park enforced a rule against saving seats. I found it unfair that somebody was saving over 10 seats for the rest of their party, because it forced everybody who was actually in the theater early to find a worse seat, while the party whose seats were "saved" got to waltz in and take their seats at the last minute. This one isn't really on the park- but an announcement saying you can't save seats or something, would be excellent.

Anyway, I thought 'Twas That Night was a phenomenal show overall. It's really of a caliber much higher than what I typically group theme park ice shows in. It feels like something from a Disney park. I am really glad 'Twas That Night has joined the lineup of Christmas Town shows.
I have to say that the seating situation on Friday night was absolutely ridiculous. So much that I had to make a complaint to guest services. By Saturday the reserved seating section had a quarter cut out of it, but it needs to be cut in half at the least.

Anyways, I was finally able to upload the pictures I had promised to of the first night of performing. Here is the link to the photo album.(Sorry, it wasn't embedding properly) Enjoy!
I really liked the show but it really did feel like they were stumbling and not flowing well together at times. But I know they were short on rehearsal time. My one big complaint was the dog. This was a cheese prop that served to add nothing to the story. Also why is a park that is based around the welfare of animals promoting giving pets as gifts. I have done allot of volunteer work with shelters and rescues and you can ask anybody who has been around them December and January are the busiest time of the year as they get inundated with pets that were given as gifts and then were not wanted or didn't work for some reason. I am sorry but this is just something that does not need to be encouraged.
So this post is... complicated. After seeing the show over the weekend I have been working through my thoughts on it over the last few days. I thought I had worked out enough of my opinions to post something but then Matthew pointed out to me that the show is based almost entirely upon a poem... A poem that I've somehow never heard or read.

At the point of writing this introduction, I still have yet to read the poem this show is based on. Why? Because I want to write out my initial thoughts first- the ones based on total ignorance about the show's source material. After I finish the first section, I will then read the poem in question and post additional thoughts about how that has changed my perception of the show.

Why am I going through all of this? I've always wondered what someone who didn't know the story of A Christmas Carol would have to say about Scrooge No More. Somehow I inadvertently walked into being a voice of the ignorant perspective for Twas that Night so, before I spoil this opportunity, I want to list out my raw, uninformed, thoughts first.

Anyway, with all of that said, here we go.

First Thoughts

I think Twas that Night on Ice was good, but I very much disagree with those who are celebrating it as some new bar for theatrical productions at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. I don't think it comes close to it actually. The show I saw this weekend was full of problems. Some of those are problems that should naturally work themselves out over the coming weeks, but others will not.

I'm organizing my (half-baked) thoughts into three of the tackiest, most stereotypical review categories possible: The good, the bad, and the ugly.

The Good

The 1950s stylization is great and I love it. The bulk of the costumes and outfits are fantastic and, overall, I'm a big fan.

The set is gorgeous and clever. Love the book backdrop, the rotating panels, the lighting, and especially the trees on either side of the stage.

Overall, a high level of skating talent seems to be on display.

The individual pieces featured in the show's score are generally great. Very much akin to Scrooge No More! in this regard.

The preshow is fantastic. Bravo to that guy!

The Bad

Aside from the obvious toys and north pole-related characters, the only characters I can actually identify are the mother, father, and the two kids. I don't know who the preshow guy is or any of the other townspeople. Do they matter? Why is the mother hugging everyone in the town? I just sorta don't know. Many of the characters just ended up confusing me.

Much like the characters, many of the scenes struck me as muddy and convoluted as well.
Both the dog and the children struck me as cheap pandering, to be honest.

The dog was entirely gratuitous, and as Horsesboy said, sends a terrible message, especially given SEAS' emphasis on animal conservation.  They did the same thing with Celric Fyre, and honestly with PETA already targeting the chain, both decisions strike me as ill-advised, politically unsavvy, and off-putting.

While I understand the need for children to appear for the sake of the poem, I'm not sure why they had to have such large parts.  It took away from the show for me.

Additionally, if Joe is right and the children were supposed to fall down, I have to admit I am even more confused by the show than when I first saw it. As I said before, all of the performers seemed to have been given far too little time to rehearse. The show came off as sloppy and unprofessional. There were several missed cues, slips, falls, as well as awkward body and arm positions. It felt as if they had been given less than a day to practice with the reindeer masks and that unwieldy sleigh. When the children fell it just looked like another in a series of mishaps that could have been prevented with more practice time.
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