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Kurt Browning's Gotta Skate 2003 Review

Copps Coliseum - Hamilton, ON - Oct. 18, 2003

written by Hoo

Once again I was busy behind the camera so this is a review from memory, not notes. However, unlike previous events IMG required all credentialled photographers to sign a release not to post/share our photos with anyone other than our organization, so this time only IFS gets my photos, not my website :( As always this review can be posted on other sites/boards so long as this disclaimer is included.

This is now the third show I've seen of Kurt's and each year I've wondered how he was going to top the previous year's theme. And while I don't think any one will ever top the first one, the second one and this one were both equally as good but in different ways. By tackling each show with a different theme Kurt explores some new direction and I can't wait to see what he does next time!

The overall theme for the show this year was it being sort of a 30s nightclub called Chez Shae's. The tunnel going off ice was made up as two swinging front doors so each skater came through and entered the 'club' to perform. At the opposite end of the ice was a bar scene set up that had a bar (with Kurt's sister-in-law tending ) plus some tables and chairs. Club regulars and basic background scenery were some folks from the ballet. What was interesting was during the show there were always skaters sitting at those tables watching the performance. They were in character to some extent as club regulars and would applaud or cheer on their fellow skaters and sometimes even interact with them on that end. It was an interesting set up and allowed for some nice flow for the concept.

Act I

The show actually started with Kurt on the microphone and bringing out the skaters in their warm-up gear to do their pre-shwo warmup in front of the audience. He intro'd each skater and made comments about their career or skating. I remember that for B&K he asked "how many Canadian titles does it take to make a World Champion?" The skaters were doing just basic warmup work - stroking and the ocassional jump or footwork. It also allowed Kurt to explain his theme for the show where once the warmup was over the skaters would now only be appearing as their 'characters' for the rest of the show. He spoke of how Chez Shae's was the coolest and hippest club in town that just everyone wanted to get into.

Opening - "Got That Swing" at Chez Shae's
The program opens with Todd as 'Big Daddy' the guy on the doors checking each person's name off the list as they enter the club. The voice-over told a bit about each character as they entered. Shaw & Vic were the club owners, Kurt was the party guy, Jen was the single girl, etc. Costumes were variations of gray for the men with shirts and suspenders or shirts and sweater-vests and the like. Todd had on a 3/4 leather jacket and Boitano might have had on his suit at this point - dont' quite remember. The girls were in a variety of pale blue and purple dresses with white polka-dots. All were Jef Billings outfits and they looked great. It was a fun swing opening with each team/soloist having highlight tricks and the like.

Robinson - "Tangosain"
As the single girl Jen gets pushed out onto the 'dance floor' to strut her stuff to this tango themed program. She did a good job with it and I think it might have been a bit faster than the version skated at Dreams - at least the footwork seemed a bit crisper.

Bourne & Kraatz - "Sway" (with Buble live)
For some reason I am drawing a complete blank on this program other than remembering that I really enjoyed it. Seemed to be a good program for them - wish the details weren't escaping me!

Eldredge - "Transition"
This was a program that was your basic short program routine (turns out it was music from a previous season that got switched out for another choice) so it had the usual 3axel, 3lutz and 2axel. There was something about this program that was just not workable - I think it was that the music didn't seem to build or go anywhere. But that being said it did feature some nice skating along with the solid jumps and of course Todd's fantastic spinning! Costume was the black and red one from "Carmina Burana"

Meno & Sand - "I'm Your Man"
I loved this program from the first moment I saw it and it's only gotten better with time. They both really play the quirky couple so well and it's nice to see a program that shows off this side of their personalities. The program stars similar to SOI with Jeni trying to give the rose to Todd and then to audience members. Unfortunately Jeni took a tumble on the throw but nailed it one time out in the re-takes.

Brasseur & Eisler - "Friend To Me"
A good version of this program from them, nothing too different from previous performances.

Boitano - "Summer Wind" (with Buble live)
For this number Buble was out on a small platform near center ice so that Brian could skate around him. This is a nice program for Brian and thankfully Buble's version is different enough that it doesn't make me instantly think of Orser's version 2 years ago :) Boitano was wearing burgundy pants and burgundy striped shirt. Brian's jumps looked really solid and he had some excellent flow over the ice.

Browning - "Moondance" (with Buble live)
For Kurt's number Buble moved back to the end of the ice. Unfortunately this is another program that I'm drawing blanks on the specifics of (every time I try and run the music through my head to job my memory, Brian Orser's version keeps popping in). I do remember enjoying it though!

Act II

Liu - "El Duentde"
I've never seen David live and this was quite a treat. The program was in no-way your typical skating program and was more about the dance movement. Lots of interesting positions that were carried from the skate blade all the way out to the tip of his fingers. Really fascinating.

Robinson - "Teach Me Tiger5 / One Mint Julip"
This was a much better performance than at Dreams two weeks ago - Jen seemed really relaxed and into the program. She botched her lutz but it didn't really effect the program. This is a cute number for her.

Meno & Sand - "Makin' Whooppee"
This isn't one of my favorite numbers from this team, but it could be because I just really can't stand this particular song. It was however much better performed than when I saw it at Improv so long ago.

Bourne & Kraatz - "Mac the Knife"
I can still remember the first few times I saw this program that I thought it had sero personality which I thought odd considering the performers. But the past 2 times I've really enjoyed this program and this one was another great performance. It's almost like they're really finding the characters in this dance. Shae and Vic complement each other and go for an amusing type of sexuality which just hits the note perfectly for this music. Some wonderful lifts and turns in it.

Bourne, Robinson, Meno, Eldredge - "Fever" (with Buble live)
Kudos go to Buble for this, who not only sang, but sang while he skated along in hockey skates! The number heavily features Shae in her red sequined dress who basically skates around and in front of Buble for the entire number. She was the epitome of sexuality in this number! And combined with Buble's rolling vocals it was really effective. For the first part Jen and Jenni were almost just skating props as they skated behind Buble and Shae but they were later joined by Todd to do some skating with him for the end of the number. But Shae really stole the whole number - she was electric.

Brasseur & Eisler - "In The Middle"
A great high energy number from this team and they were really on tonight. Nothing too different from my previous reviews.

Boitano - "Hernando's Hideaway"
This was a fantastic program from Brian and even though it did have both hat and cigar props, they were used so well that they didn't jump out at you as "stop for prop moment." I believe it was this number that had Brian do what looked like a 3toe-3toe-2loop combo in the corner (it was a little blocked for me so I can't be positive). It's rare that Brian does a piece that's very character driven and you can tell he put a lot of effort into making this one work well. Excellent performance!

Browning - "Swingin'"
Vintage Kurt here with all kinds of interesting footwork and styles of movement. This was another Roberto Camponelli number and it was excellent! The turns within the footwork looked really tricky and I cannot wait to see this again where I can rewind the tape and really take in some of the movement.

Eldredge - "When You Come Back To Me"
Wow! When I first heard that Todd was skating to Garth Brooks I kind of wondered just how good it would be since I don't think of Todd for the choice of country. But it was more of a ballad than a what I would think of as 'typical' Garth rockin' country with lyrics about being the lighthouse and waiting. It was very lyrical and moving. Todd also has a new costume that are black pants with a shaded blue/teal shirt with some sort of black overlay and shine to it. The program was something of a throwback nature with partial figures or figure like elements to it. While it didn't break any stunning new ground for Todd, I think it's one of his better programs in recent years and I do hope we see it again. Jumps were spot on including a huge triple axel

Browning & Boitano - "Pachuko" into "Topsey"
When I first heard of a Kurt and Brian duet I really wondered how the heck it would come out as here are two skaters with completely different styles and range of motion. But It came out fantastic and really was the highlight of the show. It starts with Kurt doing about a minute of "Pachuko" complete with high energy footwork, lunges and these twisting on-ice roll/lunge things - very cool! As that music switches to "Topsey" Boitano slowly getting up from his chair (still in full suit with hat) and approaching Browning. The idea is sort of as Boitano is the ultra cool guy who's slow and smooth compared to Kurt's high energy 'trying to be the cool guy' performance. It's sort of a duel of skating with each doing the same sort of move with their own spin on it. One section has them each doing squat spread eagles from opposite diagonal corners and then doing a 180 leap/turn as they pass at center ice (think chicken on skates). They also had syncronized double axels and death drops. The program really just was fabulous! And since Boitano sort of stumbled on his double axel (well, more of landing it at a dead stop) they had to retake it and opted to retake it from the very top so the audience got two full versions of it which was a real treat!

Finale - "Bill's Bounce"
The rest of the cast then joins the ice for the finale. It featured the various skaters dancing around the outside with each skater going to center ice for a trick plus some great unison footwork sequences up and down the ice. It was a great high energy end to the show.

During retakes while Roz was getting those all important 'crowd-shots' she took a moment to point out Steven and Christine and say that they got married recently and have them take a bow. No idea if they did as they were on the other side of the camera from my spot but it was a nice touch. Steven was also present at the reception afterward and was signing autographs for quite a few people who knew who he was. Very cute :) Oh, and he says one of the pieces he'll skate at Kristi's show in November is by Bruce Springstein.

Kurt hosted much of the retakes and there were quite a few but just about every one was a one-take deal so it went pretty quickly. There were some amusing moments though that included Kurt singing part of "Piano Man" to kill some time. He also goofed around on the ice and did a somersualt that got his shirt really wet so when it came time for his and Boitano's retake he had to go be blown dry to match the first version. Kurt as always did a good job of thanking the folks at Smuckers and all their other sponsors for making the show possible and getting a round of applause for Leanne Miller's choreography.