Nancy Kerrigan didn't enroll in method-acting classes to play Sandy, either. Says choreographer Barry Lather, who had worked with Kerrigan on routines for her TV specials, "It took a while for it to sink in for her that she's portraying a role."
It was up to director Bilik to present the hard facts. "The first few days were not a lot of fun for either of us," he admits. "I said, 'I hate to tell you this, but you can't be Nancy Kerrigan for these two hours. She is not going to not be Nancy Kerrigan, but she has to think she's not. This transformation into the character was very hard.
"It's quite amazing, because a lot of people have a lot of opinions about her, and they're not all positive. But when she falls into the part she gets into it; she really enjoys herself and forgets herself. Ironically, she hits her jumps. She doesn't worry about them. I told her, 'If you fall, it's not Nancy falling, it's Sandy falling. You have to fall like Sandy would fall and stay in character. It's been very hard for her."
Alas, Kerrigan's travails have been many. Bilik worried whether she would be able to relate to the other skaters (actors? seals?) in the company: "As any celebrity, she's kind of hesitant; you never know if somebody's going to take advantage." Or try to break your kneecaps.
"I keep talking to people in the company to see if she's relating to people. Yes, she comes and sits around and talks with people as opposed to being totally isolated," Bilik says.
Concept: Grease Meets Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth on Ice. Use voice-over narration for this one. Campbell's dead, unfortunately, but someone avuncular is needed -- maybe Cronkite is available. Nancy skates as cheerleader Sandy. Narration about archetypes, about ethereal princess who cannot mature into her full self because she is isolated from the darker forces of her nature. Music: something Wagnerian. Narration about how confrontation with shadow is essential to connect the divided self. This part is tricky: Think Bibi Andersson and Liv Ullman in Persona. Somehow Sandy meets dark, sinister, greaser-girl figure. Fear and disgust transform to awe and fascination. She has met her dark sister. Transference. Virgin Sandy becomes slut Sandy. Nancy becomes Tonya Harding.
Full company joins "You're the One that I Want."
Grease on Ice comes to Kiel Center at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 29-30.