Couple sees fairy tale ending with Disney on Ice - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Couple sees fairy tale ending with Disney on Ice

Before becoming a Disney princess, marrying her prince and becoming professional ice skater, Jessica Hatfield’s fairy tale started at a place that will never be mistaken for the Magic Kingdom: the Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit of Saint Clare’s Hospital in New Jersey.

“Let’s just say I saw some things you don’t see every day,” she said when asked about her nursing days eight years ago. “There are things you see that you just don’t want to talk about.”

Hatfield, however, has plenty to say about her current job, one that couldn’t possibly be more different than working at a medical facility that treats adults who suffer from mental illness and exhibit a danger to themselves or others.

Jessica Hayfield

Jessica Hatfield

When her skates aren’t laced up, she’s Jessica, a 30-year-old from Morris Plains, N.J., and wife of Brendyn Hatfield, a 31-year-old from Renton, Wash. But when she hits the ice, she becomes Princess Jasmine and Brendyn transforms into, of course, Aladdin, as the couple skates together during “Disney on Ice: Follow Your Heart,” which has eight shows at Royal Farms Arena from Oct. 27-30.

“It’s like being a kid again because you’re a prince and you’re with your princess,” Brendyn said. “Every day is like a being in a Disney movie.”

Jessica and Brendyn are among 60 characters in “Follow Your Heart,” which brings Dory, Marlin and Hank — the stars of the hit movie “Finding Dory” — and the characters from the blockbuster “Inside Out” — Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust — to “Disney on Ice” for the first time.

The Emotions help a girl gain the confidence to win a hockey championship and grow up, but that’s just one story line. Spectators will take a trip to Arendelle and see Elsa, Ana, Kristoff and Olaf of “Frozen,” as well as “Toy Story” pals Buzz Lightyear and Woody. And no Disney show would be complete without princesses like Cinderella, Rapunzel and Snow White, not to mention Disney’s Fantastic Five — Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Pluto and Goofy.

Jessica and Brendyn, who have both been skating since they were kids, met when they each took a similar risk. Jessica was putting the nursing degree she earned at William Paterson University to good use at St. Clare’s, but her love of skating never went away.

“In 2008, I sent out a bunch of audition tapes and I got a call to be in the cast of Holiday on Ice,” she said. “They were based in Europe and I wanted to go out and see the world.”

The next year, she met Brendyn, who joined the cast after he decided to pursue a career using skates instead of the media management degree he earned from the University of Colorado.

“I just wasn’t ready to give up skating,” said Brendyn, who picked up the sport when he was 6.

Six years, a wedding and performing so many times in so many cities they’d lost count, Jessica and Brendyn reached a crossroads. They were nearing their 30s, living out of a suitcase and their bodies were feeling the grind that came from years of performing numerous shows daily.

Brendyn Hatfield

Brendyn Hatfield

“We were close to retiring from skating,” Brendyn said.

But last year, Disney made them an offer they couldn’t refuse — jobs as Jasmine and Aladdin in “Let’s Celebrate.”

“Coming to Disney sparked the love we have for skating and how rewarding it is to perform,” Brendyn said.

Jessica added: “Being a part of Disney inspires me to go out there and give the audience everything I have because some of the kids in the crowd are seeing Disney characters in front of them for the first time. When you skate out onto the ice, you see all these kids smiling, and there’s nothing more rewarding to me.”

Jessica and Brendyn are a perfect fit together on the ice, especially when they skate together during “A Whole New World,” the hit song from “Aladdin.”

“The skate we have together has a lot of acrobatics and twists and you have to trust your partner,” said Jessica, who has been skating since she was 5. “And my husband is my partner.”

The Hatfields aren’t exactly sure how long they want to keep making a living portraying a cartoon couple.

“I remember watching Jasmine in the movie “Aladdin” when I was younger,” Jessica said. “Now, I get to be her. It’s crazy, isn’t it?”

“Disney on Ice: Follow Your Heart”

Where: Royal Farms Arena

When: Oct. 27-30

Shows: Oct. 27: 7:30 p.m.; Oct. 28: 10:30 a.m., 7:30 p.m.; Oct. 29: 11 a.m., 2:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m.; Oct. 30: 12 p.m., 4 p.m.

Tickets: $23, $28, $33, $53, $68 and can be purchased at royalfarmsarena.com.


About the author

Jon Gallo

Jon Gallo is an award-winning journalist and editor with 19 years of experience, including stints as a staff writer at The Washington Post and sports editor at The Baltimore Examiner. He also believes the government should declare federal holidays in honor of the following: the Round of 64 of the NCAA men's basketball tournament; the Friday of the Sweet 16; the Monday after the Super Bowl; and of course, the day after the release of the latest Madden NFL video game. Contact the author.
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