IT seems a long way from the North-East to the glitz and glamour of Disney On Ice, but Sunderland ice dancer Becci Wake has been part of the world-renowned touring show for the past nine years.

On the eve of the Feld Entertainment production making its annual visit to the MetroRadio Arena, Newcastle, Wake says: “I would say I wasn’t the first from the region to appear in the Disney show, but I am the only one in this production. It was always the big dream that I’d get here from the age of four.”

For Wake, the title of her current project is Passport to Adventure, because she’s seen the world as part of Disney’s delights on ice which this time feature the Lion King, Peter Pan, The Little Mermaid and Frozen. Families will also be treated to a fun warm up in a Fit to Dance pre-show featuring Zootropolis.

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“I competed up to the age of 16 and my family and friends supplied really good support,” says Wake, who skated at Sunderland, Whitley Bay and Billingham and went on to win the British championships.

Sadly, the Crowtree Ice Rink, on Wearside, where she first went on the ice with her grandparents, no longer exists. “I only lived ten minutes from Crowtree, but that has closed down now and I wouldn’t have had my career without it. It’s such a shame for children now because they don’t get the same chance I did.”

Disney On Ice came along in 2008 when Wake sent in an audition video to Feld’s Florida-based headquarters. “I wasn’t expecting to hear very quickly. Sometimes an answer can come in one or two years, but I got accepted two weeks later. I knew about applying to Disney because of being an ice skater. My boyfriend at the time shot the video at Whitley Bay and you put in elements that you can do and try to make yourself look good, but make it exciting by doing something that others might not be able to. I think I was dead lucky getting accepted.

“I remember deciding to keep the tape short so nobody got bored and I think mine was about three minutes long,” says Wake. Her debut came in a High School Musical ice show and Wake recalls being told to turn up in Portugal to join Disney On Ice’s European tour.

“It all depends where a show is going. If it’s a new show, then it starts in Florida. I was 25 when I joined Disney. So I was more excited than daunted.”

After becoming part of Feld shows, skaters are asked to join tours most suited to their skating style. “Normal tours are about seven or eight months and, at one time, I was in shows for 14 months straight. That was tough. I’ve been just about all over the world and the only part I’ve missed out on so far is South Africa. I’ve done Europe and South America most recently and I’ve just got back from Chile.”

Wake stays in touch with her family via video-calls and feels that she’s become quite good at providing updates and news to Wearside. “A lot of people who know me will attend shows if they are close by and my family goes to a lot. My toughest challenge was a bomb threat in Chicago, but Disney is really good in these situations and got us all out of the hotel that received a call. We obviously have the usual weather problems such as the current hurricane trouble in Florida. I’ve been watching that on the news. It’s been one of the highlights of my career to meet the creative team in Florida.”

Wake is currently in the ensemble cast for Newcastle and appears in most show numbers. “I think my favourite role so far has been Tinkerbell . I’ve enjoyed bringing Princess Wishes to the UK and now Passport.”

She feels that the cast don’t feel pressure because Disney skating shows frequently sell out, but do focus on improving their ability as skaters. “I’ve always been fortunate in avoiding injuries and I make sure to look after myself and do all the warm-ups. Like any sporting-style activity, you have to keep fit. Eating on the road can be hard when there are no cooking facilities, particularly when we have three shows on weekend days. Then Disney bring in caterers for us.”

Faced with tours to other countries and different currencies, Wake jokes that she always looks at Disney On Ice contracts as “like going on holiday. Wages are good enough to live on and Disney is an amazing company to work for. I keep hoping that I have a few more years”.

Now 34, the skater is hoping one day to join the creative and backstage crew. “There are things like crew and wardrobe and I’m quite happy about being based in Florida or going on tour. A lot of people have done this and the company are very good at offering former skaters employment,” she says.

At least 20 members of the Wake family will watch Becci in action on Tyneside. “I can’t remember missing a show at Newcastle since I was young. My parents will go, even if I’m away on tour elsewhere.

“My favourite show has been Frozen, mainly because the children seem to know all the words to the songs. It’s crazy how younger ones know everything Disney.”

  • Disney on Ice presents Passport to Adventure: MetroRadio Arena, Oct 3 to 8. Box Office: 0844-493-6666 or Group sales: 0191-2606006. Tickets from £19.80