Highland Heights native Adam Kezele will be flying high as an acrobat and aerialist in "Disney on Ice Presents Mickey's Search Party," which will play at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland Jan. 11-20.
His daring feats include being lifted up in the air in a two-point harness as an ice harvester from "Frozen" to make it look like he's scaling a wintry mountain projected onto a giant scrim. He also performs as a skeleton on a sway pole in a segment from Disney Pixar's "Coco."
The flexible sway pole is made of solid fiberglass with a sort of saddle and perch mounted at the top where Kezele straps his legs in. He hadn't heard of the sway pole before he joined the Disney show.
"It was a little scary climbing it for the first time because it bends and sways as you're climbing it," Kezele said by phone Dec. 20 from his home in Los Angeles, where he was on break from the tour.
The performer, 30, graduated from Mayfield High School and Miami University in Ohio, where he studied theater and also served as the college hockey mascot.
He was hired by Disney last summer as a nonskating acrobat in "Mickey's Search Party," which features 45 performers from 12 countries. In this show, guests embark with Mickey Mouse, Minnie and some human hosts on a search for clues to find Tinker Bell after Captain Hook tries to capture her magic. The search party ends up going on ice, in the air and all around the arena, with the goal of bringing the magic closer to guests.
Favorite Disney movies represented in the show include "Peter Pan," "Beauty and the Beast," "Toy Story," "Moana," "Coco," "Aladdin," "The Little Mermaid" and "Frozen."
Kezele has been using the free ice time at his disposal to train more in ice skating on Saturday nights after a three-show day, working primarily with performance director Adam Loosly.
The actor hadn't gotten on the ice regularly until college. But Kezele has been learning so fast, he now serves as an understudy for the show's skating Mickey Mouse Club male host. Kezele, who is the acrobatic captain, also has been teaching the skaters some acrobatics.
"It's a nice skill share we've got going on here," Kezele said. "I get to work on my acting chops once a week" as an understudy.
He started becoming interested in the circus world while training at a parkour facility in Cincinnati during college. He met some circus performers there, who introduced him to the silks and taught him the basics. Kezele was hooked, so after graduation, he trained in silks at the Sokol Greater Cleveland studio twice a week.
Six months later, he was in New York, where he started auditioning for theater roles, working as a waiter and doing work off off-Broadway. He also trained for 1½ years at Circus Warehouse in Long Island City, where his primary discipline was the Chinese pole. In 2015-16, he toured with "Peter Pan 360" as an actor who did acrobatics, performing as Curly and then a flying Peter.
With Disney on Ice, he performs as a Green Army Man from "Toy Story" on the Chinese pole, a rigid steel pole coated with rubber that he climbs with his hands and feet. He does a lot of strength poses and release and drop tricks on this pole.
Finally, Kezele performs on the Spanish web in an "Aladdin" segment. It's similar to an aerial rope act but this one has a loop up high where he locks his wrist. A person at the bottom spins him as Kezele shows off his poses, flexibility and grace.
The performer said he's looking forward to coming home soon for the Cleveland run of "Mickey's Search Party." Tickets start at $15. Call 888-894-9424 or see www.theQarena.com.
"Great Performances: The Cleveland Orchestra Centennial Celebration" will air at 9 p.m. Jan. 11 on PBS and will be available to stream the next day on pbs.org/gperf. The 90-minute show, airing nationwide, is a co-production among the Cleveland Orchestra, WVIZ/PBS Ideastream and Clasart Classic.
It was filmed Sept. 29 at Severance Hall at the orchestra's 100th anniversary gala concert. The performance, led by Music Director Franz Welser-Moest, offered works drawing from more than a century of Viennese musical traditions and featured Lang Lang performing Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 24.
The episode also includes three special segments produced by WVIZ/PBS Ideastream that take a historical look at the Cleveland Orchestra. They include a segment on Adella Prentiss Hughes, "The Mother of the Cleveland Orchestra"; another that highlights the orchestra's seven music directors; and a final segment showcasing its legacy of community engagement in Northeast Ohio neighborhoods and schools.
The Cleveland Orchestra has been featured on "Great Performances" previously under the baton of Lorin Maazel from the 1975-76 season, under Christoph von Dohnanyi in 2000, and in 2006, when Welser-Moest conducted the orchestra in a Carnegie Hall opening night concert.
Arts writer Kerry Clawson may be reached at 330-996-3527 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her at @KerryClawsonABJ or www.facebook.com/kclawsonabj.