Matt Grimsted has skated competitively, doing triple toe loops in front of the watchful eyes of a judging panel.

He’s also skated dressed as a moonfish and a pelican, doing toe loops and the like before the adoring eyes of tiny children.

He prefers the latter, since it’s a lot tougher to get a smile from a judge.

“Competitive skating always made me a little nervous. I like doing ice shows because of the reaction of the audience, and the interaction with the audience,” said Grimsted, 23, who will be part of the skating cast when “Disney on Ice Presents Disney/Pixar’s Finding Nemo” opens a four-day run at the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland today. “I adore getting smiles from people, performing for them. You feel like it changes their lives.”

Grimsted will have the chance to see plenty of smiles in the next four days as his “Disney on Ice” cast is scheduled to do seven shows in Portland.

“It’s not an easy show, it can be a little grueling,” said Grimsted, a native of Blackpool, England, who has been with “Disney on Ice” since he was 16. “But it’s not that bad either. All of us love show business.”

The ice show is based on the 2003 animated Disney/Pixar film “Finding Nemo,” about the peril-filled journey of a clownfish searching for his lost son, and encountering all manner of undersea characters. The film featured the voices of Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres and Willem Dafoe.

Video clips of the ice show feature skaters wearing fish costumes around their mid-sections, with their upper torsos sticking out, though they are colored the same as the costumes.

The costumes have hinges and rods inside, so the fins and other parts of the fish can move in a fish-like way. The show’s 60 or so costumes were created by designer Scott Lane, who has designed costuming for other “Disney on Ice” shows, as well as Broadway productions and the Tournament of Roses Parade.

At one point in the show, a fabricated blue whale, some 43 feet long, appears. And it takes up half the ice rink.

The show was choreographed by Cindy Stuart, a former “Ice Follies” and “Holiday on Ice” skater turned choreographer. She has also worked with many competitive figure skaters, including World Champion Chen Lu of China, three-time U.S. National Pairs Champions Jenni Meno and Todd Sand, and American Olympic silver medalist Rosalyn Sumners.

Stuart’s choreography in “Nemo” ranges from break dancing, to precision skating, to ballet. Plus there are some high-flying moments, including a female skater doing twists and turns 20 feet over the ice while grabbing onto a silk rope.

And Grimsted, who plays a moonfish and a pelican, among other things, is also harnessed to fly during some of his time on the ice.

“It was a bit weird at first, wearing the harness, but I’m used to it now,” said Grimsted, who added that the stress of flying is worth the look on people’s faces. “The crowds have been great during this tour.”

 

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at

[email protected]