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Higgins, Rice put own touch on 'Christmas on Ice'

Married adagio skaters earn rave reviews for holiday show

It's been the 12 months of Christmas for adagio skaters/producers Jodeyne Higgins and Sean Rice, who are producing their first show.
It's been the 12 months of Christmas for adagio skaters/producers Jodeyne Higgins and Sean Rice, who are producing their first show. (courtesy of Higgins and Rice)

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By Lois Elfman, special to icenetwork.com
(12/06/2012) - Married adagio skaters Jodeyne Higgins and Sean Rice have spent much of 2012 filled with the spirit of Christmas. Earlier this year, they launched SeaJo Productions & Entertainment. This holiday season they have joined forces with show producers Spirit Productions USA for Christmas on Ice, which opened at the Palace Theatre in Myrtle Beach, S.C., on Nov. 2. The show, which features skaters, dancers and singers, runs until Dec. 29. The couple is responsible for the skating portion of the show, and the overall producer of the show is Spirit Productions USA.

Preparations for the show began right after Higgins, 38, and Rice, 40, finished their second season on the British TV show Dancing on Ice (DOI) and skated with their respective celebrity partners, Chico Slimani and Chemmy Alcott, on the live tour.

"The week after the Dancing on Ice live tour, we went into pre-production," Rice said. "As we got to June, Jodeyne and I started playing Christmas music all the time."

There have been productions of Christmas on Ice at the Palace Theatre for the past two years, but Higgins and Rice completely overhauled the skating portion of the show. They've adjusted many things, from the order of the music to the choreography and costuming of the skaters.

"It has a storyline now, which connects it," Higgins said. "It has a really nice flow."

In casting skaters, Higgins and Rice turned to people they've come to know during their 10-plus years skating on Royal Caribbean International cruise ships. The other six skaters in the cast are fellow married couple Alexandra Schauman and Lukasz Rozycki (also DOI alumni), former U.S. competitor Shaun Rogers, Annie Laurie, Asa Persson and Michael Sasaki.

"One of the best things about when we worked on ships is the family of friends we made that we learned we could trust," Rice said. "They were brilliant skaters and great showmen."

While it has been a longtime dream of Higgins and Rice to form a production company, the timing seemed right to make it a reality. The desire to start a family (they've been married for 12 years) and also get to spend more time with their parents and siblings pushed them into action.

"It's not time to hang up the skates, but we're doing the transition," Rice said.

Even though they didn't cast the singers and dancers in Christmas on Ice, when they arrived for their first joint production meeting to install the show, they were pleasantly surprised to see many familiar faces from the cruise ships.

Rice even crafted a segment where the dancers and skaters share the ice together. His goal was to create a seamless blend of all the talent. The energy level has even inspired men in the audience to say they genuinely enjoyed the show, even though their wives dragged them along.

Higgins and Rice have barely spent any time at their home in Florida for the past year because they decided to try coaching in Canada over the summer. The two-time Canadian bronze medalists and world competitors worked with four young pairs teams of coach Monica Lockie at the 8 Points Centre of Excellence in Markham, Ontario. Higgins choreographed her first short program and free skate utilizing the international judging system.

As seems to be their way, even a time of transition is incredibly busy. After their final Christmas on Ice show on Dec. 29, they'll head north to spend New Year's Eve with their families in Canada. Then they'll accompany one of Lockie's junior teams to the 2013 Canadian Championships. They've also got four show concepts they're going to try to sell next year.

"We loved every aspect of performing on the cruise ships, but we were out to sea for more than 10 years," Higgins said.

They also appeared in shows around the world.

"We want to be a little bit more land-based, so that when we want to go home and see our families, we can actually go," she added.

"We saw a niche in skating we could help fill," said Rice, who hopes to be hands-on in working with dancers, singers, musicians and acrobats as their company develops. "We want to create a feeling that you're not just going to an ice skating show: You're seeing an 'everything' show. People walk away having been entertained by different flavors."