David Rovine, vice president of Orioles-Sarasota, needed permission straight from the top for this one. Yep, had to talk with Buck Showalter, the Orioles’ two-time American League Manager of the Year. That’s what happens when you want to host a show called “Ice on the Diamond - A Holiday Celebration” on the same grounds where people expect to see the likes of reigning home run champ Chris Davis and his fellow All-Stars Adam Jones and Manny Machado. Sure, there are a few months between Friday’s production starring ice skaters and the start of spring training but what if the diamond is destroyed by “Ice on the Diamond”?
“We had several meetings and got the blessing of everybody, even Buck Showalter,” Rovine says. “You don’t mess with Buck’s field.”
The main reason Showalter agreed to let his beloved field become transformed into a winter wonderland is probably because while “Ice on the Diamond” does feature ice skaters it doesn’t actually take place on ice. Rather than frozen water, the skating will be done on EZ Glide 350. It’s advertised as a “synthetic ice skating surface … more versatile and safer than refrigerated ice.” Perhaps most importantly, the stuff won’t warp, or melt, in the Florida heat.
“We can lay it down quickly and it’s not affected by heat or cold,” says Jeb Rand, executive producer, creator and director of “Ice on the Diamond.” “We just spray on a lubricant that gives it glide, like spraying Crisco oil on a cutting board at home.”
He adds, “We use the same ice skates, just sharpen them with much deeper edges.”
Rand, son of Sarasota residents Dr. Howard Rand and Nanci Rand, and his longtime skating partner and wife, Jennifer, were nationally ranked pairs figure skaters for the United States during the 1980s. As professionals, their career spanned more than 15 years with principal roles in the “Ice Capades,” “Disney on Ice” and the European tour of “Stars on Ice.” From 1998 to 2005, Jeb and Jennifer were the lead ice skaters at Radio City Music Hall in “The Christmas Spectacular” starring the Rockettes.
Also starting in '98, Rand began creating, producing and directing ice shows around the world. “Ice on the Diamond - A Holiday Celebration” features a team of national and international skaters. Soloists are Michael Chack, a U.S. national bronze medalist, and Erica Archambault, a U.S. junior national champion, with Stephanie Kuban and John Hunt as the lead pair. The storyline is advanced by actors Joe Gnoffo and Casey Peterson who play elves narrating the show about entertaining eager guests.
“Santa’s elves have come to the venue to prepare it for Christmas and they realize the public audience has come early to see Santa and so they use elf magic to transform the moment into a live production until Christmas arrives,” Rand says.
Elf magic at Ed Smith Stadium. Now that’s not something you see everyday.
ICE ON THE DIAMOND - A HOLIDAY CELEBRATION
7 p.m. Friday; Ed Smith Stadium, 2700 12th St., Sarasota; $5-$45 (children age two and younger, sitting on a parent’s lap, are free); 893-6300; orioles.com/sarasota