Queen of Mean

Lisa Skubovius plays the villains kids love to hate in Disney on Ice's Princess Classics.

Disney on Ice's Princess Classics Gund Arena, 100 Gateway Plaza Wednesday, January 8 through Tuesday, January 14. Show times are 7 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and Tuesday; 11 a.m., 3, and 7 p.m. Saturday; and 1 and 5 p.m. Sunday. $11.75 to $55; call 216-241-5555.
She's been a bad, bad girl: One of Princess - Classics' queen bitches.
She's been a bad, bad girl: One of Princess Classics' queen bitches.

It's not easy being the bad guy. You get booed, hissed at, and pelted with vegetables. Just ask Lisa Skubovius, who plays not one, not two, but three different villains in Disney on Ice's Princess Classics. "I've had quite a few children harass me," she says. "When I get close enough to the audience, I hear, 'You're ugly!' 'You're mean!'

"I once saw a very specific child wincing at me. That didn't feel very good."

Still, she literally fits the part. At "five [feet] nine and a quarter," Skubovius towers over her costumed companions. "Generally, figure skaters are quite short," she says. "And, generally, most of the villains in the [Disney] movies are tall."

But she doesn't consider herself a real meanie. In fact, the 30-year-old Canadian loves her job -- and the audiences that come to see her skate, night after night, as one of the evil stepmothers, selfish queens, and bitter witches. It's a never-ending parade, but one that Skubovius relishes.

"I was really interested in playing some evil roles," she says. "In general, the characters are a little more complex and more fun to play. At the very same time I wanted to move in that direction, the opportunity came up."

Princess Classics is essentially a greatest hits collection, featuring characters and songs from Cinderella, Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, Mulan, and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

But boys beware. Even though Aladdin and his genie, Prince Eric, and the Beast all make appearances, it's pretty much a girlie show, filled with tiaras, elaborate accessories, and long, flowing gowns.

"In the films, the [villains] never appear to be stepping," Skubovius explains. "They kind of float. And I have to bring that element to it. But there's a danger to that, too. I've tripped over my cloaks on a few occasions, and all of a sudden, the villain's not so scary."

At least it keeps her sharp. Distinguishing the characters can be difficult, she admits. "They all have an element of malice about them," she explains. "[Sleeping Beauty's] Maleficent is all-around evil. [Snow White's] queen is sneakier. And [Cinderella's] stepmother is the most human. She's very charming to all of the characters, but when it comes to Cinderella, she really doesn't like her, and she doesn't try to hide it."

Yet, she sympathizes with the characters she plays. Sort of. "I tend to like villains who aren't necessarily so real," she explains. "I'm attracted to the more melodramatic ones. But I'm like everyone else -- I'm scared of the bad guys.

"But I have so much respect for people who play them. It's not easy being the person who's disliked. But somebody's gotta do it."

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