Musselman's Family Skating Tribute - University Park, PA - Oct. 19, 2014
written by Tina
Opening - "House of Love" Cast & Kids and Amy Grant
The opening was a fairly standard intro where each skater/pair of skaters went out and got a bit of a turn around the ice each with some transitions between. Kurt of course showed off some fancy footwork.
Silvia Fontana & John Zimmerman - Baby Baby w/ Amy Grant
The program opened with John reading "Motor Trend" magazine, and Silvia trying to get his attention. She finally attracts him away from his magazine and they skate around together but then he gets distracted flirting with a woman by the side of the ice, so she has to pull him away again. At the very end, they go get their kids and wave to the crowd. It's a pretty charming number, though it is very difficult to believe that John wouldn't be interested in the pretty woman flirting with him. It's kind of a common theme used in show programs, I've noticed, though.
Todd Eldredge w/ Ryder, Ayrton and Sabrina - The Waiter's Gallop
Todd did the same number he did in Stars on Ice (w/ Kurt as the maitre
d') only with Ryder as the maitre d following him around the ice scolding him and shaking his fist, and with an adorable Ayrton in a high chair, smiling as he took everything in. The number is a bit prolonged/slow when the maitre d can't really follow Todd around with any speed, but it was pretty cute
that he got to do it with his family. And Ryder seemed to enjoy
getting to "yell" at his dad and to throw water on him at the
Linda Fratianne w/ Ali - Moon River
I've never actually seen Linda skate before. She was a bit slow and cautious, but handled herself with grace on the ice, with a quite nice sit spin and joy in her skating. Her daughter did a contemporary dance on the stage at the same time - when I looked her way, I thought she was quite good, and honestly, a bit more interesting than her mom.
Michael Weiss interviewed Gabe and Kurt before Kurt's first skate. He asked Gabe what they were skating to, and Gabe
replied that they were skating to a song that *pretty* much everyone
should have heard of, "We Are Family". When people started cheering he paused and soaked it in, and then said "they're cheering, I don't want to stop that!" to explain why he wasn't responding further. He then went on to say that they are skating to it because, well, he and Kurt are family. Kurt was asked how it was skating with his sons on the ice, and he said apparently it was all about being shown up and that it was distracting, watching them, and pretty amazing as well. I think Michael also said something about Kurt doing one of the favorite things Michael has seen on the ice, ever - Brickhouse. Kurt said it was the original shirt, and that the shirt could probably do the choreography by itself by now. Gabe kept playing to the audience while Kurt was talking, and even as he and Michael left the ice in the dark.
Kurt Browning w/ Dillon - Brickhouse
It may be true that Kurt's shirt can do the Brickhouse choreography by itself now, but that doesn't mean Kurt puts any less into the performance. Every movement was crisp and filled with energy, his smile was high wattage, and he seemed to be very amused by getting to perform the number again. Then, there was a sound like the needle being pulled off of a record player, and "Here Comes the Judge" came on instead. Dillon entered, dressed with a big white curly wig and black robes, and skated circles around Kurt bopping his head. He tore off his robe and wig, tossed them to Kurt, revealing a mini-Brickhouse costume, and his voice came on over the speakers saying "No, Kurt, *this* is how the story goes." Kurt skated off to the side as Dillon began to lay down some moves. He did a bunch of the same choreography, mimicking playing the drums, doing the little hop to the double beat of the music, rubbing one skate on his leg during the whistle, etc. After a while, Kurt came back out to join him and spun him around by the hands. The two of them skated together with mirrored moves a bit, and at the end, Kurt scooped him up and put him on his shoulders and took his bows with Dillon up on his shoulders. It was really, really adorable.
As they left the ice, Kristi came on with Nancy and her family. She asked Nancy about skating with her family, and she said it's a lot of fun and a lot of compromise since everyone has their ideas of what they should be doing, so there was a lot of compromising. Kristi then talked to Nancy's 17 year old son Matthew about how he's been active in the theater (apparently he's about to play Lumiere) and he talked about how he loves it and does everything, acting, making sets, making costumes, etc.
Nancy Kerrigan, Matthew, Brian, and Nicole - "Somebody's Got Your Back"
This is one of those numbers that's cute but very very slow because the two younger members of the family aren't very good skaters. Matthew, on the other hand, is quite good and very confident on the ice. During dress rehearsal it actually felt like he was the one leading the group and who really knew the choreography. He's also very good at taking care of his younger siblings. There were some cute little combinations - Brian did a handstand on his mom's skates with Nancy holding his feet once he gets up, Nancy carried Nicole around pointing up, Nancy and Matthew waltzed around a bit and did side by side spins and spirals around the other two.
Michael's voiceover intro says that Katia is a 2 time Olympic gold medalist in pairs, Ilia is a Olympic gold medalist in single men's skating, and with that lineage, the 13 year old might be the best skater of the family. The program opens with Liza, who is an assured presence and strong skater on the ice, though very serious looking. She skates for a while and then Katia comes on, and then Ilia, and the Katia & Liza, and then just Ilia, and then the three of them. This is one talented family, and they're beautiful skaters. So much flow and synchronicity on the ice.
Sinead & John Kerr w/ Amy Grant - "Oh How the Years Go By"
Not having kids, the Kerrs seemed a bit of an odd addition to the cast, but they are brother and sister and they brought a welcome bit of just pure real skating. The kids are super cute, but with the exception of Liza, none of them are real skaters, so by necessity the content is pretty watered down for the numbers with them in it. The Kerrs' number was not watered down, and the lyrics worked quite well for a brother sister team. Some lovely skating from the two of them.
Paul Wylie w/ Amy Grant - "Better than a Hallelujah"
Paul's first number was a solo with Amy Grant singing live, and it was a beautiful one. Paul looks FANTASTIC on the ice - the quick feet, the beautiful lines, the heartfelt emotion are all there, as are some tidy beautiful jumps and so much precision in his skating. This was a beautiful number for him, and it was so good to see him out there skating. I hope he keeps skating for years yet, he looks like he has it in him!
During intermission, the Penn State skating club came out and did a medley to Queen that was quite well done and nice, but they for some reason didn't use the spotlights at all, so it was a bit dim and the poor skater who did the solo at the beginning wasn't well highlighted even though she had great presence on the
Silvia Fontana and John Zimmerman with Sofia and Eva - "Let it Go"
It was inevitable that someone would do something from Frozen. This
was really really cute because Sofia is really really cute. In the
beginning, it was just Silvia and Sofia on the ice, dressed up like
princesses. Silvia exaggeratedly stretched her arms and performed
choreography to the music while standing in place, and Sofia (who's 3 years old) did her best to imitate her mom. Especially during dress rehearsal, you could see Silvia singing to her daughter, and they just seemed to have the best time. Eventually, she pointed off to indicate daddy coming onto the ice with Eva in his arms, and they skated around a bit. During dress rehearsal they tried to leave both girls on the side of the ice with Grandma while they skate together but Sofia lost it. She was howling and crying, reaching out with both arms to her mom and the ice, and fighting whoever was trying to hold her back (at various points, Matthew, Ali, her grandma...). During the show, they let Sofia hold an Olaf stuffed animal and stay on the ice, and she was much happier. You could see her parents checking down the ice to see where she was (and making sure they didn't run her over), and John had to go retrieve her from where she'd made her way to while they skated, but it worked out much better. Overall, it was just super cute and sweet.
Kurt Browning w/ Gabriel - "We are Family"
The number started off with Kurt coming out in his "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" purple velvet coat, dancing away as only Kurt can. Sinead came out on the ice, and Kurt spotted her, sauntering over flirtatiously and throwing his coat over both their heads. She skated off with his coat and he kept dancing on the ice. Then, Sinead came back with Gabe on her arm in the coat. He throws the coat off to Sinead, Kurt and Gabe slap hands, and then they skate together. Gabe's honestly not much of a better skater than his brother, but he's got confidence on the ice, a lot of attitude and obviously no fear of attention, and the two of them get some fun skating in. Gabe's also dressed like Kurt in this number and he really does kind of look like a mini-Kurt only with a cool long lock of hair in the front.
Paul Wylie with Kate, Hannah, Emma & Caleb - "Frozen-Star Wars-Happy Medley"
The Wylies always come up with really cute concepts for these shows. This time, the number opens with Kate sitting on the side in her bathrobe reading the paper, while Hannah and Emma are dressed up like princesses from Frozen, skating prettily around each other. Kate's voiceover says "mornings start off so peacefully in the Wylie household". Caleb comes out in a Darth Vader costume with a red lightsaber and the voiceover says "but then there are the fights over the remote". Caleb skates out waving the lightsaber, the girls act all annoyed and then Dad skates out dressed as Luke Skywalker and does battle with Caleb while the girls skate around. It's really quite cute - there's a big halt to the music, the kids go "MOM!", Kate stands there with her hands on her hips and the voiceover says "I know how to solve this. Dad, hit it!" Paul takes off his Jedi costume and he's got a tie-dyed shirt on underneath it. He proceeds to skate to "Happy", the kids all strip down to tie-dyed shirts as well, and the whole family dances together to the music. It's quite adorable and Paul manages to squeeze in some quite good skating around his family as well.
Michael Weiss w/ Lisa, Annie Mae & Christopher - "Say Something"
Big surprise of the evening for me - Lisa Weiss can sing, and she can sing really really well. Lisa and Annie Mae duet on "Say Something" with Christopher strumming a guitar and Michael skating. It's actually a really nice family effort, with each contributing their own talent and skill to the number. Michael's skating is heartfelt and beautiful, and the Weiss women sound lovely.
Kristi Yamaguchi talked to Amy Grant about being a mother and about how she's performed at other skating shows in the past, and asks if it's inspired her to skate herself. Amy says she'd just fall flat on her face, but that it's really inspiring and beautiful to see people interpreting the music with their whole bodies.
Todd Eldredge and Sabrina w/ Amy Grant - "Not Giving Up"
Todd and Sabrina skate together with Amy Grant singing live. It's lovely and they do a nice job skating together, but the lingering impression I get from watching this number is that Todd obviously ADORES Sabrina. You can see it all over his face and body language, and it's not just for the cameras. It's really sweet to see.
Katia Gordeeva w/ Amy Grant - "If I Could See"
Katia's solo to Amy Grant performing live is lovely and flowing and free. She's got such lovely skating and seems to have a real joy performing on the ice. I can't say I remember all that much about the program in detail, but it was nice to watch.
Ilia Kulik w/ Amy Grant -"Helping Hand"
Ilia's solo was much more memorable to me. Aside from his gorgeous huge death drop and giant jumps and sweeping motions, his footwork sequence to an instrumental passage was fast and energetic and had amazing ice coverage, and I really liked it. Katia and Ilia both are still on the top of their games, and they bring a lot to these shows.
Finale - "Big Yellow Taxi" - Cast w/ Amy Grant
The finale was again a fairly typical finale with a bit more pairing off of skaters instead of just individual bits - Kurt and Paul skated side by side which was really fun to see. Brought back memories of the old SOI days, though I think they actually rarely got paired in group numbers in SOI. Silvia and Sinead came out and skated a bit with Kurt and Paul before their respective partners came out. Linda and Nancy skated together, with a transition bit from Todd... Amy Grant's voice seemed to go almost completely during the number - they started when she didn't seem ready and she kept having issues - so they had to do a retake of just her singing this one and the previous one after she apparently remedied her voice with potato chips "and fervent prayer".
After the finale, a lot of the kids stayed out on the ice skating,
including Dillon and Gabe. Dillon was practicing a lot of skating
while Gabe seemed to be connecting with the audience and showing off a
little. Gabe got volunteered to be interviewed by Kurt, who
disappeared backstage to get changed. Kristi asked him how it was
skating with his dad and having to do all the practice for the show -
he said it was all right, he guessed..he had to do it. He's definitely very confident and likes to talk to/play with the crowd.
The first retake was Brickhouse - nobody I talked to had any idea why they were doing the retake. The only thing I could think of was that when Dillon threw the robe at Kurt, it didn't make it and fell onto the ice, so it might have thrown off the timing a little? Nobody minded seeing a bit of it again, though, since we got to see that 30 seconds of Brickhouse and more cute Dillon. At the beginning, Kurt was putting the wig and robe on Dillon, and Gabe skated by and pulled the wig askew. Kurt shook his fist at him comically. They finally got Dillon ready and Gabe skated off the ice. The retake was a little random - Kurt just mimed his way through the beginning choreography and Dillon stumbled not long after the robe was transferred - but I guess it was good enough for their purposes.
I don't recall who else did retakes - I think Liza/Ilia/Katia due to a fall on Liza's jump, but I'm not clear why they had to redo all of Katia's part and up to Ilia's first jump. Maybe he screwed it up while I was looking at one of the other two.
Amy Grant did the last two songs over again at the end. She was very self-deprecating about her vocal issues, informing all vocalists out there that a little grease and salt will fix their voices up as she munched on potato chips. She seemed to have a good sense of humor and appreciation for the skaters.
Overall the show was really cute but kind of short. Smallish cast, nice mix of just cute kid with parent numbers and real skating. I'm not sure how much longer they can sustain this show given that a lot of the skaters with kids are aging out a bit (most of them don't do much skating besides this show anymore) and I don't think there is a new generation of younger skaters with kids who can step into their place. But for now, it's a sweet show, and worth tuning into. Dillon's Brickhouse is worth the price of admission alone!