Many little girls dream of being a Disney princess, but for Laura Stern, the dream has become a reality. For the past three years, the 24-year-old figure skater and actor has been performing with “Disney On Ice.” This year’s show, which celebrates the 100th anniversary of Walt Disney’s legacy, is at the Baltimore Arena Feb. 5-9.
The daughter of a competitive ice skater, Stern, who grew up in Granada Hills, Calif., began skating at the age of 6.
“My mother always took me to the rink while she skated, and I wanted to try it,” she said. “One day she said ‘yes,’ and I really took to it.” Stern hasn’t left the ice since.
From the beginning, Stern was passionate about performing. She skated competitively throughout high school, winning many awards and relocating to Colorado without her family to train. She was just 16.
“I was a competitive pairs skater, and it’s always so difficult to find a partner,” said Stern. “One partnership ended so I went to a tryout in Colorado, and one of the partners [I skated with] there worked out. So I went there and lived with another family for almost a year.”
While in Colorado, Stern underwent rigorous training, but toward the end of her first year, she suffered an injury and was forced to return home.
“It was bittersweet,” she said. “I got to go to college and study theater, so I think it happened for a reason.”
Although her injuries brought an end to competitive skating, they wouldn’t put an end to her skating career.
Stern graduated with a bachelor’s degree in theater arts from California State University at Long Beach in 2011. In her last year there, she and a friend auditioned for “Disney On Ice” and were hired. It was a perfect opportunity to combine her passions for theater and ice skating. Disney also gave Stern an opportunity to see the world. Since joining the production, she has visited the Middle East, South America and Puerto Rico.
Stern was raised in a Reform family with strong ties to a synagogue and a tight-knit Jewish community.
“I had a bat mitzvah, went to Hebrew school and was in youth group all throughout high school,” she said. “It’s been a challenge being on tour and not being able to go to temple. But my parents raised me with good values, and whenever I go home, I go [to temple]. I celebrate all the Jewish holidays with my family even if it’s over Skype. Being Jewish is a huge part of my life.”
In this year’s “Disney On Ice” program, Stern’s roles include a bride in “Mulan” and a can-can girl in “Pinocchio.”
“I’m in the ensemble so I play many different parts. We have fun costumes, and the show offers a little bit of everything for both boys and girls,” she said. “This show has Aladdin and the princesses, classics like Pinocchio and newer characters from ‘The Incredibles’ and ‘Finding Nemo.’”
Stern says that like many Disney fans, she grew up loving the company’s movies and princesses such as Ariel and Belle.
“After the shows, we get to go into the audience and shake hands with the kids,” she said. “It’s pretty cool to see how much it means to them. It’s a great job.”
For more information and to purchase tickets, visit baltimorearena.com/events/disney-on-ice/.