Penn Manor grad brings Disney to life
In 2002, Disney released its film "Lilo and Stitch," and its popularity led to a spinoff animated television show, which still airs replays today.
Thirteen years ago, Lily Ngo was watching Disney, but now she's performing it, bringing her favorite characters to life with "Disney on Ice."
Ngo, a Lancaster native and 2013 Penn Manor graduate, has been skating for 11 years and decided to take her talents to the professional level after school.
"I've been skating forever. I decided to send in an audition video to audition for 'Disney on Ice.' After a few weeks, they sent me an email telling me that they wanted to see me for a live audition, which was actually in Hershey," said Ngo via a telephone interview from Florida. "I had my audition there, and it was the greatest time of my life. After that, I got an email saying I was hired for my dream job."
Ngo gets to return to the scene of her audition when "Disney on Ice" comes to the Giant Center from April 8 to April 12.
It isn't just returning to her original audition spot, but it's a return home for Ngo.
"I'm so excited. It's, like, the thing I'm most excited for on our tour. We will be there April 8 through the 12, with shows on Thursday and Friday night, three on Saturday and two on Sunday. I'll have a bunch of opportunities to perform for my friends and family," Ngo said, adding that she's already received plenty of requests for tickets.
Besides filling in on the "Disney on Ice presents Let's Celebrate" show for six weeks, Ngo, now in her second year with the company, has performed primarily on the "Passport to Adventure" show, which is the one that will be performed in Hershey.
"'Passport to Adventure' is my main show. I think next year, actually, we are getting a show change, though," Ngo explained. "Right now, our stories are the 'Lion King,' and then we go to under the sea with 'The Little Mermaid.' Then we surf the wave with 'Lilo and Stitch' before we go to Neverland with 'Peter Pan.'"
While Ngo does play a role in "Peter Pan," she wouldn't go in to detail about it, saying if you want to see which character she plays, "you should come see the show so it will be a surprise."
But her main role is playing Lilo from the aforementioned "Lilo and Stitch." Despite being in the target age range when the original film came out, Ngo actually didn't see the film until recently.
"I didn't watch the movie until I got the role. She's such a great character and I like playing her every day," Ngo said.
Instead, like many other girls, Ngo was a fan of the princesses.
"My favorite characters were the princesses, I won't lie. Ariel was my favorite, and I get to see her every day," Ngo said, enthusiastically.
Ngo and the stage version of Ariel get to hang out regularly, and it's not just locally, either. The 45 performers, 12 crew members and concession workers – making up almost 100 people, collectively – travel together around the world to perform.
This year, according to Ngo, the show is doing an eight-week tour in the United States and Canada now, but earlier in the year, they stopped in South America, which included trips to Brazil, Argentina, Peru and Chile.
"It's been incredible. It's amazing that I get to perform and call it my job," Ngo said.
While Ngo did get the role right out of high school, she could be looking to continue her education as soon as this fall.
"I do plan on going to college. I applied to schools this year, so maybe in the fall I'll go to school," Ngo said. "I'm still deciding. It's tough to pass up."
Well, what would that mean as far as performing goes?
"I have a lot of thinking to do still. Touring and going to school are both good options," a non-committal Ngo said. "My family is supportive no matter what I do."
Ngo, who admitted that she always wanted to be in the spotlight, gets to live her dream each night. Even with all of the traveling she gets to do to and people she gets to see, bringing shows to life on the ice is the highlight of the job for her.
"Probably performing is my favorite part. It just never gets old being in the spotlight," Ngo said, admitting that the demanding schedule took a toll on her body when she first started. "It's getting better now with the traveling. I'm getting used to it. When I first joined, it was a hard work out. It's a lot of physical work."
And since she loves to perform, it doesn't get better than bringing the characters that she loved as a child to life, even if they aren't the princesses.
"It means everything. Some of the kids out there come to our shows and they have never been to Disneyland or Disney World to meet Minnie or Mickey," Ngo said. "The fact we can bring them to life and to see the expressions on their face is great."