Behind the scenes off the ice

Members of the Skating Club of the Adirondacks rehearse for Saturday's performance of “A Frozen Fairy Tale" at the Plattsburgh State Field House.

PLATTSBURGH — It was as frenzied off ice as it was on ice during final rehearsals for the Skating Club of the Adirondacks' “A Frozen Fairy Tale,” the club’s spring theater-on-ice show.

Show director and skating pro Gayle Roy Collin fine-tuned the 80-plus member cast on the ice.

In the wings off ice, Melita Mercier and Jackie Germain hot glued snowflakes to 13 luminescent costumes.

“It’s very busy,” said Susan Billow, costume coordinator. “I make about 160 costumes or so. Everybody has two costumes this year; we have many costume changes for everyone. It’s been crazy, actually. We’re right down to the nitty-gritty.

"We still have girls making costumes, finishing them up. Tomorrow night, we have pictures to be taken so everybody has to have their costumes done. It’s to the wire.”


This year’s show was inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s classic tale “The Snow Queen."

The show is a fusion of narratives and characters from "Cinderella," "Beauty and the Beast," "Alice in Wonderland," "The Little Mermaid," "Snow White" and "Sleeping Beauty." 

“It’s been a lot of fun, though,” Billow said. “Everybody loves their costumes when they’re done. And the kids have a blast out on the ice. We make everything safe for them. Snowflakes are made out of foam so if they fall, they don’t get hurt.”

WPTZ Meteorologist Tom Messner narrates the show, which will appeal to “Frozen” and “Once Upon a Time” fans.

The show includes live music from the Saranac High School Jazz Ensemble and vocalist Charlotte Stevens.


Billow and her crew started making costumes in December.

“I start at home,” she said. “My mom works on a lot of costumes. I drive in every weekend at the beginning of the skating season, and then I only do weekends obviously. When it comes down to the end, we come in every day and we finish up every day what we have to do.”

In a quiet corner, artist Paula Trahan painted the backdrop scenery of Sleeping Beauty’s cottage.

“It’s a challenge,” said Trahan, who studied art at SUNY Plattsburgh and graduated in 1985.

“I have a degree in painting but I have never painted anything this large.”

Her 8-year-old daughter is in the show.

“So here I am,” Trahan said. “I painted three sets. I was painting with another girl (Jenny LaForest), she painted five.”

Trahan also painted the sets for "Beauty and the Beast" and "Cinderella." 

“The biggest challenge is painting in latex paint, flat-latex paint that does not move like acrylic or oil," she said. "It dries differently. But it’s been fun. I don’t paint because I have young children. So, I don’t have time and I thought this will be perfect, I’ll get to paint.

"I’ve loved it. It’s been really fun to get back into it.”

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Robin Caudell was born and raised on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. She holds a BS in Journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park and a MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College. She has worked at the Press-Republican since 1990

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