If you’ve decided to embrace the eternal loop of “Let it Go” playing in your mind, or if you have kids that know the words to “Under the Sea” so well they might as well grow scales, then you should find solace in the fact that Disney on Ice: World of Enchantment is coming to Utah from March 9-12. The expansive show includes performances from The Little Mermaid, Cars, Toy Story 3, and, of course, Frozen. To find out more about it, Salt Lake magazine spoke to Rhys Anderson, who plays Prince Hans in the Frozen segment of the show. He told us all about how his he’s gone from hiding behind the couch, terrified of Disney villains, to ice skating villainously in sequins while being both boo-ed and cheered by the audience. (Have you recovered from realizing that villains can wear sequins? We’ll give you a moment.)
SLM: So describe what the show might be like to someone who has only ever watched ice skating in the Olympics and seen Disney shows with their kids… what should someone expect from it?
RA: We have four segments in our show. It starts with Toy Story 3 from the movie. We also have the Little Mermaid, Cars and Frozen. It’s basically a Disney show with ice skates.
SLM: Do you ever have people come to the show who come from a professional ice skating perspective/community?
RA: Absolutely. I think the shows have something for all ages, because there are cool tricks, romance, comedy, jokes… anyone can appreciate it. We get all sorts of people—from kids to older couples to families, who all come to the show.
SLM: So did you audition for Prince Hans right off the bat?
RA: I grew up skating since the age of four so I was involved in the community for a long time and I knew a lot of people that joined Disney on Ice. It sounded like a great way to travel the world and do what I love, meet great people, and experience new things. So at about the age of 24 I decided to sign up and put in a video… When I first joined I was an ensemble skater. Then Frozen started becoming really big so they added it to our show. So they contacted me and asked if I’d be interested in portraying the role.
SLM: And is there something appealing to you about playing a villainous role as opposed to being the typical Disney hero?
RA: Growing up I don’t think anybody thinks they’d like to be the villain in a Disney film, but I really enjoy it because Hans… you don’t really know he’s a villain until the end. He’s a likable character—he sings “Love is an Open Door”—he seems like a good guy. So it’s kind of playing the good guy and he doesn’t switch till the very end.
SLM: It’s a more complex role than you got in the early days of Disney.
RA: Yeah, he’s a bit sneaky like that.
SLM: Is there another part in Disney on Ice, if you weren’t playing Hans, that you’d want to play?
RA: I like Flynn Rider, he’s such a fun character, I think he’d be a really cool role to play. And Woody from Toy Story is always fun.
SLM: What’s your favorite villain in any other franchise that you just love to hate [like Hans]?
RA: That’s a tough one, I have to think back… I remember watching Snow White when I was younger and I think there’s a scene with the villain at the beginning [where] I had to hide behind the couch… I do enjoy playing the villain though. Sometimes I’ve been boo-ed on the ice, but sometimes I wave to kids and they wave back. Well, it’s actually a little surprising when they do wave back. [Laughs]
SLM: Does your costume affect your performance in a big way?
RA: Yep, absolutely! Because Hans is a prince, he likes to dress very fancy… there’s sparkles and sequins everywhere. He’s wearing an overcoat, which does take a little getting used to. So when I first got the costume I had to learn how it feels and [how to balance the] weight distribution so I could jump in it and do all these tricks… I really enjoy all the costumes though, because it just brings all the production… to life. The second I have everything on, I feel in character 100%.
SLM: Do you get to directly interact with the audience much?
RA: The whole show is a very interactive experience… especially with Toy Story because there’s a lot of toys on the ice… so we encourage everyone to come out and wave to the characters.
SLM: So do you have an acting background or any background in theater?
RA: The only acting background I have is from high school when I did drama classes, but I really enjoyed that. Mostly I just really like to make people laugh… when I was doing that in high school I was always trying to make jokes and play the funny characters.
SLM: In theater, actors often say they love being able to change little details of their performance each night as they develop their characters and their acting… do you get to do that or is it pretty consistent?
RA: We all have to stick to the character and make sure we’re portraying how that character is in the movie, so we don’t ever change emotional stuff. But there is some freedom where we can do something different each show that keeps it entertaining for us and the audience. Because when you’re doing 500 shows a year you like to keep it fresh for yourself.
SLM: Is there one move that’s your favorite as a part of your performance, or something that you always look forward to?
RA: Well, at first I always enjoyed getting punched at the end and all the kids seemed to get a really good crack out of it so that’s fun for me.
SLM: Well thanks so much for talking to me! Good luck with the rest of your tour stops, we’ll see you in Salt Lake soon!
Disney on Ice: Worlds of Enchantment comes to Vivint Smart Home Arena March 9 – 12, 2017. Ticket prices start at $20 each, with discount tickets available for opening night at $15 each. All seats are reserved; tickets are available at Smithstix.com, by phone at 800-888-TIXX or visit the Vivint Smart Home Arena Box Office.
-by Amy Whiting