Figure skater Lauren McHenry – Raleigh native and 2008 Sanderson High School graduate – comes home this week when she performs with “Disney On Ice: Rockin’ Ever After,”Wednesday through Sunday, at Raleigh’s PNC arena.
A two-time collegiate national champion, McHenry has been on the road and touring with the company since early September.
She spoke with The N&O about ice skating, hot pink mermaid costumes, and the intersection of art and athleticism.
Q: For those who have never seen a Disney on Ice show, what can they expect to see at the Raleigh performances?
You’ll see a lot of incredible skating and performing, of course, with special effects and lighting. We take the audience through the stories of “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and Beast,” “Tangled” – which is the story of Rapunzel – and, for the first time, Princess Merida from the Pixar movie “Brave.” The show ties the four stories together with the theme of a talent show. Mickey and Minnie are the hosts, and they’re looking for the best talent in the land. Kind of “American Idol” style.
Q: What roles do you play in the show?
I’m an ensemble skater, and I play the character of Arista – one of Ariel’s sisters in the “The Little Mermaid.” I have a hot pink mermaid costume in that one. I’m also a rock star in the opening and the finale. So, yeah – it’s very fun.
Q: What is the appeal of skating for you, as opposed to other disciplines of performing arts or athletics?
I fell in love with skating the first time I stepped on the ice, when I was 7 years old. And it’s just that, really – I love how it combines athleticism with art. You have to have the athleticism to pull off the tricks and stay on your feet. And it really is an art form. The whole performance aspect adds another level. Anyone who is going to be skating this long has to be passionate about it. So I really love being surrounded by these people that are as passionate about skating as I am.
Q: How does it feel to come home to Raleigh?
Oh, I’m really excited, because I’ll get to be home for a week. I’ll get to take the cast out and play tour guide around the city. A lot of friends and family will be coming to the show. I feel very fortunate to play my home city in my first year with the show.
Q: Any advice for the little skaters out there who’d like to make a go of it?
I would say perseverance is the key. If it’s something you love, push through any obstacles, because there will always be obstacles. It’s not an easy sport, but if you can persevere you will experience things that you never imagined.
That would be my advice: If it’s something you really love, stick with it.