Elvis Stojko is a busy man these days.
For starters, the three-time men’s world figure skating champion recently wrapped up his Broadway debut, playing manipulative, smooth-talking lawyer Billy Flynn in Chicago: The Musical.
With his maiden Broadway gig in the rearview mirror, Stojko now teams up with fellow world champion and famed choreographer Shae-Lynn Bourne to headline Blades On Stage, dubbed a “Broadway holiday spectacular on ice.” Just in time for the holiday season, Mirvish Productions brings the show, with an impressive supporting cast that includes Violetta Afanasieva and Peter Dack, to Toronto’s Princess Of Wales Theatre from Christmas Eve through January 4.
If Broadway musicals and holiday shows aren’t taking up enough of his time, fulfilling a need for speed certainly keeps Stojko’s calendar filled.
A lifelong fan of motorsports, Stojko has turned his passion into a second career as a competitive kart racer at the national and international level. As far as future aspirations go, Stojko admits while he wants to remain active in both skating and acting, he is focused on keeping the pedal to the metal, both literally and figuratively.
“The karting has been going great, it’s a lot of fun” says Stojko, taking a break from Blades On Stage rehearsals.
“I’ve got the Florida winter tour coming up. There will be some guys from IndyCar, some pretty big names, coming to race. I’m really looking forward to it, and I’m taking it very serious. It’s what I want to do.”
Racing isn’t just a hobby for Stojko. He isn’t shy when discussing his end goal, and Stojko has every intention of continuing his ascent in the sport until he makes it to racing’s big time.
For a guy that has three world golds and a pair of Olympic silver medals in his trophy case, you may not want to bet against him.
“Motorsports has always been in my life,” admits Stojko, also a noted martial arts expert. “The car racing is really where I want to go. I believe I have the skills and talent to do it at the professional level, and I have the right support, the right people, backing me. It’s just a case of building that sponsorship to get to the next level, and figuring out exactly where I want to go.
“After that, the sky’s the limit.”
Stojko may want to think about leaving that high-powered kart at home for the next few weeks.
If he had the urge to bring the wheels out for a practice spin in between Blades On Stage shows, there won’t be much room to negotiate those hairpin turns. The Blades on Stage cast will take their spins on a rather confined sheet of ice custom-fitted for the Princess of Wales stage, creating a unique, intimate setting between the audience and the performers.
“It’s been challenging because we have a 40 by 55 foot surface,” Stojko admits. “A lot of people ask ‘Is it real ice?’”
“Yes, it is,” he adds with a laugh. “It’s going to be real ice on stage – the first time in Canada – which is really exciting.”
If Stojko had “star in a Broadway musical” on his bucket list, he can now scratch that one off as well. The son of a classically trained tenor, Stojko released his first album, 100 Lifetimes, in 2010 before dipping his toe in the acting pond, landing the role of Billy Flynn in Chicago: The Musical.
The role has been played by the likes of Billy Ray Cyrus, Alan Thicke, Tom Wopat and Richard Gere, who played Flynn in the Oscar-winning movie more than a decade ago.
“It was incredible,” says Stojko of his Broadway debut. “At first I thought I bit off more than I can chew after the first week of rehearsals in New York, but it doesn’t get any better than working with professionals at that level. I was able to tap in and really connect with my character.
“Every show, I got stronger and stronger, and by the time I came to Toronto to perform (last March), I felt extremely comfortable. It was an incredible experience and I would love to do it again. It’s something I will never forget.”
Joining Stojko in the Blades On Stage spotlight will be Bourne, who teamed with Victor Kraatz to claim the 2003 ice dance world championship, the highlight of an impressive resume that includes ten Canadian titles and three Olympic appearances.
Bourne has established herself as a majestic choreographer, working with such stars as reigning men’s Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu, Joannie Rochette, Ashley Wagner, Akiko Suzuki, Daisuke Takahashi and Jeremy Abbott. She also choreographs for rising Canadian ice dance stars Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje, who are fresh off a gold medal at the ISU Grand Prix Final.
Like Stojko, Bourne says Blades On Stage presented a unique set of challenges, but she is looking forward to fusing blades and Broadway together over this holiday season.
“It’s speed – skating on stage is a very different feel that you would never get in any other Broadway show,” says Bourne. “It’s exciting for me as I’ve never been on such a small stage before. I’ve managed to figure out a way to keep the speed and bring that to the theatre.
“What I love most is the artistry of the skating and the choreography, and entertaining, and acting,” adds Bourne. “This gives me a chance to really focus on that, be creative and use the ice that we do have.
“There’s still a lot you can do even though it’s small. You just have to be a little more creative.”