Imagine that you’re 3 years old and Prince Charming is your uncle.
For Lawrance “Rance” Czermak’s niece, Willow, it’s not a fairy tale. Czermak plays Prince Charming in “Disney Live! Mickey and Minnie’s Doorway to Magic,” coming to Savannah on Dec. 19 at the Johnny Mercer Theatre.
“I get to connect with my niece through postcards,” Czermak says. “I’m ‘Uncle Rance, the traveling performer’ to her.
“I send her postcards from all the places I go. She’s excited to get mail and I’m teaching her about the world.
“When I come home, she runs to me every time,” he says. “I do miss her, but the postcards fill the void.”
The Disney Live! show has something for everyone, he says.
“This is a musical and we do perform to a live track,” Czermak says. “We’re getting to portray various characters that Disney has brought to life on stage.”
For five years, Czermak performed Disney shows full-time in Orlando. For the past three ½ months, he’s been with the live stage show.
A native of Florence, Ala., Czernak began performing at the age of 8. He earned a degree in costume design from the Florida School of the Arts and a theater degree at the University of North Alabama.
“In my last year of high school, I developed a lot more love for the theater,” Czernak says. “That pushed me and gave me the confidence to go into the theater.”
Having degrees in both costume design and theater ensure that Czernak can always work in the entertainment business.
“You should always have a backup plan,” he says. “If you truly love an area, you want to encompass your career around it.
“Never focus on just one area,” Czernak says. “You need to focus on many areas.”
Working for a Disney Live! production is a dream come true.
“This program means the world to me,” Czernak says. “The show itself brings together families.
“Disney is timeless and ageless. Anyone can view this show and remember their childhood, whether they’re 4 years old up to someone bringing their grandchildren.
“At least six times a week, I fall in love with Cinderella,” he says. “To grow up and portray this character I saw on TV is amazing.”
All types of reactions come from the audiences.
“We do audience participation, so they get to be involved in the storyline,” Czernak says. “We wear stunning, elaborate costumes.
“Any time we perform, the children are mesmerized,” he says. “They can’t ever imagine getting to meet their favorite Disney character right in front of them. Their applause means we did the job right.”
Czermak’s favorite part is getting to be a storyteller.
“I took a class in New York City and the instructor said no matter whether you’re a dancer, singer or actor, your one common goal is to tell a story,” he says.
There are other perks, as well.
“I get to see places I’ve never seen,” Czermak says. “Every audience is different and I like that.
“That little girl in the front row is different every time,” he says. “I even smile at her when I’m dancing with Cinderella because I know she wants to dance, too.”
The show is presented by Feld Entertainment. It features more than 20 Disney characters who step through mysterious portals to showcase moments in such Disney favorites as “Tangled,” “Aladdin,” “Cinderella,” “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” “Fantasia” and Disney/Pixar’s “Toy Story.”
“This show is about bringing to life the magical places and moments that exists with the world of Disney in a very authentic and modern way,” says Alana Feld, Feld Entertainment executive vice president and Disney Live! producer. “By using magic and illusions, we’ve reimagined iconic scenes and enhanced them, creating a great connection to the characters and stories for our audiences.”
The show opens with an original song, “Magic is Here.”
“What makes this show extraordinary are the adventures Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy have every time they enter a different whimsical doorway and the amazing things they do in each world they visit,” says Fred Tallaksen, the show’s director and choreographer. “One moment, Mickey and Minnie are jumping rope alongside the ‘Toy Story’ gang in Andy’s room, and the next they have traveled to Agrabah to unleash the power and comedic antics of Aladdin’s Genie.”
There are also special effects designed by magic consultant, Jim Steinmeyer, who got his start on Broadway.
“When the Disney characters present the illusions rather than a magician, something special happens,” Steinmeyer says. “Not only is the audience experiencing this genuine moment within the Disney stories, but the characters add to it with their presence and unique personalities.”
Scenic designer Christine Peters and lighting designer Steve Doty found innovative ways to stage the show.
“The design process always starts with a central idea,” Peters says. “For this show, it was the image of doorways and the hints they give as to what adventures lie behind them.
“From the asymmetrical shapes of the doors themselves to the way the curved portals frame the stage, we are able to convey a fun-house vibe full of intrigue and excitement.”
“Christine Peters has provided a beautiful set that doesn’t require much coloring to make it show ready,” Doty says. “Instead, we were able to focus on incorporating a variety of methods to draw awareness to the choreography and general flow of the production, further enhancing the naturally magical stories.”
Leon Dobkowski is the costume designer.
“It was important for the costuming to be familiar but contemporary so it is relatable to Disney fans young and old,” Dobkowski says. “The challenge with the ensemble garments is finding silhouettes and colors that balance the overall collection yet still provide an authentic representation of each story.”
“What’s exciting about this show for me personally is that it’s the first Disney Live! I have produced since becoming a mom,” Feld says. “Now when I’m deciding on content, I automatically think how my daughter will respond to it and how everything created by our amazing team of professionals is geared toward making ‘Mickey and Minnie’s Doorway to Magic’ a way for families to fall in love with Disney all over again.”
IF YOU GO
What: “Disney Live! Mickey and Minnie’s Doorway to Magic”
When: 7 p.m. Dec. 19
Where: Savannah Civic Center, 301 W. Oglethorpe Ave.
Info: 912-651-6550, etix.com