Columbia ice skating club puts finishing touches on its tribute to fantasy 'Castle on a Cloud' opens tomorrow

April 02, 1993|By Mark Guidera | Mark Guidera,Staff Writer

When the 65 members of the Columbia Figure Skating Club take to the rink this weekend for their annual spring show, it will be the icing on almost a year's worth of detailed planning and practice.

"Putting on a show on a stage is pretty difficult, but putting on a show on the ice is unbelievable," said Ellen Budd, a Columbia resident and vice president for the club.

"We've been planning this for almost a year, and I think it will show. The costumes and the music are just fantastic. We often wonder how we can top our previous shows, but somehow we do."

Since the Columbia Ice Rink, which the club uses for practice and meetings, closes after this weekend's show, the club won't meet again for practice until September when the rink reopens. But planning for next year's show will begin almost immediately with the selection of music and a theme.

The 20-year-old club organizes two ice skating shows annually, a Christmas holiday event,usually held in the first week of December, and a spring show usually held the first weekend in April.

The theme of this weekend's show, entitled "Castle on a Cloud," will be fantasy. Scenes are adopted from the "Wizard of Oz" and family-oriented Broadway and television hits, including "Les Miserables," "Guys and Dolls" and the "Addams Family."

The show will feature a performance by Scott Gregory, a member of the U.S. Olympic Skating Team in 1988 and 1984, who is now coaching at the Ice Skating Science Development Center at the University of Delaware.

"We plan the show to appeal to almost every age group, but we like to start the show off with a number that is geared to young children," Ms. Budd said. This year that number will be scenes from "The Wizard of Oz."

"Many of the skaters in the number will be young children, and when kids in the audience see people their own age out there on the ice, they get just mesmerized. It hooks them for the whole show."

This weekend's show will feature skaters as young as 3, Ms. Budd said. The oldest skaters in the club this year are in their 60s.

It's that diversity of age that brings a vitality to the club and makes it such an attractive pastime for members, Ms. Budd said.

"We never have trouble getting members," she said. "Anyone with any level of skating ability can join. Some people join to improve their skills, others join for recreation, and for others it's a social thing. Most people join simply because they love to skate."

Many members get interested in joining the figure skating club while taking group skating lessons at the Columbia Ice Rink, located off Thunder Hill Road, Ms. Budd said.

Joining the club involves paying a $500 annual membership fee and showing up for practice sessions. The membership fee covers the group's ice rink rental cost -- averaging more than $20,000 annually, Ms. Budd said.

Members practice three times a week, usually for about two hours each meeting, between September and late March.

Club practices are conducted by Pat Muth, a professional skating coach and the club's artistic director. She also usually selects the music and theme for the club's two public shows and pitches ideas for costume designs for the shows.

Club members make their own costumes for the shows, said Ms. Budd, who became involved with the club five years ago when her daughter joined the group.

"We don't like people to spend a lot of money on their costumes, and with the children we try to pull parents together in groups to make different parts of the outfits. It's all very grass roots, but, boy, when you see these costumes you can really be amazed at how wonderful they are.

"A lot of people tell me they get so wrapped up looking at the costumes and listening to the music they sometimes don't see the skating."

Performances will be held tomorrow at 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for children under 12. Tickets may be purchased at the door up to an hour before show time. Shows last approximately two hours.

Information: 410-730-0322 or 410-730-3760.

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