As Dory in Disney on Ice's production of Disney/Pixar's Finding Nemo, Rebecca Hovda has mighty big fins to fill. Anyone who saw 2003's hit movie will tell you that Dory, voiced by a plucky Ellen DeGeneres, stole every scene she was in. "I watched Ellen's [TV talk show] to study the different sides of her personality," admits the 31-year-old Canadian. "But there's my personality in there, too.
"Dory is extremely forgetful. And I'm a little bit like that, which is sometimes a problem. I watched the movie over and over again, and it's absolutely my sense of humor. So, it all sorta came naturally to me."
Based on the animated film about a little fish who gets separated from his father -- and the emotional journey that dad Marlin and his scatterbrained pal, Dory, make as they search for the missing Nemo -- the iced version retains most of the undersea meetings and adventures. Hungry (albeit vegetarian) sharks, stinging jellyfish, menacing divers, and smartass moonfish all figure into the action. "It's the movie put on ice," says Hovda.
But underwater skating creatures are a bit more difficult to pull off than, say, ice-gliding princesses and giant green eyeballs (just to mention a couple past Disney on Ice shows). For one thing, there's the costume. "Basically, it's a big fin strapped to my back, with Dory's face on my stomach," explains Hovda. "It's kinda tricky. If you fall, you stay on your side, because of this thing protruding from your back."
And all her years of training (she first strapped on a pair of skates when she was three years old) couldn't prepare Hovda to "move like a fish," she says. "A lot of times, your feet are staying on the ground. And I'm [portraying] a flapper fish, so I have to constantly flap my arms. I basically had to change my skating style to become a fish."