Today, he will glide out as a seasoned pro as one of the 38 cast members of Disney's Beauty and the Beast on Ice, which plays seven shows at the arena, Feb. 6 to 10.
The Saskatchewan-born, Winnipeg-trained figure skater has travelled the continent since that successful audition in 1999, donning his skates and costumes for up to nine shows a week. But taking to Winnipeg ice for the first time as a pro will be a bit nerve-wracking, admits the 22-year-old skater who studied with the Winnipeg Winter Club's Terri Studholme.
"It's definitely going to be a different show," explains Hillier in a telephone interview from California. "I'll be more nervous; I'll want to perform better because my friends might be more critical and watching me."
Nervousness aside, Hillier assures skating fans that Beauty and the Beast on Ice is a lovely show -- packed with singing tea cups, candlesticks, and, of course, Mrs. Potts, the teapot, brought to life with the voice of Angela Lansbury from the 1991 Disney movie.
The former University of Manitoba business student, one of 15 Canadians in the show produced by Kenneth Feld, plays diverse parts such as a tree, man in the tavern, and a set of cutlery, and serves as understudy to John Jenkins, the male half of the principal pair skaters in the two-hour, 15-minute ice extravaganza.
Wawa, Ont., native Brandi-Lee Rousseau stars as Belle in this story as old as time about a beautiful woman who falls in love with a hideous beast.
Tickets for Beauty and the Beast on Ice range from $12 to $35, with $6 off for today's 7 p.m. show. Children get a $4 discount for Thursday and Friday evening shows, as well as Saturday's noon performance. Call Select-A-Seat at 780-7328 for details.