Michelle Martin

How far they’ll go

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

It had been a long time since I’d been to Disney on Ice.

My forays to the United Center in the last few years have been almost entirely hockey-based: Blackhawks games, yes, but a few years ago, also the games they Blackhawks allow kids’ teams to play in the afternoons, and, more recently, Illinois high school hockey championships.

In any case, events with lots of people in numbered jerseys.

But a friend had tickets she couldn’t use (hello, flu season), so Teresa and I decided to take them off her hands and make a girls’ evening of it. 

And what a girls’ evening it was. At least 80 percent of the crowd was female. The only men I saw were fathers or brothers, with most of the latter dragged along for the ride.

The show, “Dare to Dream,” was what Disney on Ice has always been: a mishmash of rehashed Disney stories. The last time I went, when Caroline and Frank were small, there may have been more boys: It was less princess-focused and “Finding Nemo” was a big part of it.

This time around, the first half was devoted to classic princess stories: “Beauty and the Beast,” “Rapunzel” and “Cinderella.” The second half was Disney’s newest princess-themed hits, “Frozen” and “Moana.”

I was struck with the big difference between the older and newer movies. All the older ones ended up with the princess finding (or being found by) her prince. In the skating routine at the end of the “Cinderella” segment, 8-year-old Teresa kept yelling out “Too close!” every time it looked like Cinderella and Prince Charming might kiss.

In “Frozen,” of course, the act of true love that saves the day is one sister standing up for the other. The only “prince” turns out to be a charlatan looking to steal a throne. Moana, while identified in marketing materials as a “Disney princess,” explicitly denies the title in the movie, which has no romantic storyline whatsoever. Even better, both her parents are alive.

The message is clear: These girls don’t need to wait for a prince to make their lives complete. What they need is love: Love of a sister, love of parents and grandparents, love of a community to help them grow and give them courage to accept their mission and go where they need to go.

We’ve just started ordinary time, the part of the year where we hear about Jesus’ active ministry as he travels through Palestine, teaching and sending the apostles forth to teach in his name.

Jesus, we know, was fully human as well as fully divine. Think about what he needed, think about what the all-too-human apostles needed to accept their missions and do what they were called to do.

For the 3- to 8-year-old set that made up the primary audience of Disney on Ice, maybe it’s better that they focus more on what they are called to do, who they are called to be, than on the possibility of landing a prince.