Kurt Browning's Gotta Skate 2003 Review
Copps Coliseum - Hamilton, ON - Oct. 18, 2003
written by Nicole
There were several unexpected entertainments for the audience prior to the start of the show. We arrived when doors opened, and were able to hear Rosalyn Sumners and David Foster practicing to tape their hosting bits of the evening. There appeared to be glitches with the teleprompter not keeping up with the commentary, and that caused some humorous miscues. When it finally kept up and they had the lines right, Roz accidentally called David "Davis", which neither of them noticed until someone with the show pointed it out. It's always interesting to see some of what goes into the making of the broadcast, and it makes you appreciate the final product even more when you are able to attend the event, then see how they put it all together for television.
Another pre-show treat for the audience was that the skaters came onto the ice to briefly warm-up, a few at a time, with Kurt MC-ing the warm-up by introducing each of the skaters. When he introduced Brian, Kurt mentioned that he hadn't performed in Canada in 5 or 7 years, and that Kurt had really wanted to get him for the show. When introducing Jenni and Todd, Kurt introduced Todd first for a change of pace, and said that he thinks Jenni and Todd kinda like each other, before pausing and pointing out that they are married. Kurt jokingly told the audience that it was the last time they would be seeing Shae-Lynn and Victor and Shae & Vic, and Isabelle and Lloyd as Isabelle & Lloyd, to which the crowd groaned, but then he explained it was because for the show, they would be playing other characters.
There was still some time to kill while people waited for the show to start (seemed it wasn't quite ready at the scheduled start time), so David Foster took the microphone and asked if there were any singers in the audience who thought they should have a shot at the spotlight. One lady on the opposite end of the arena was probably the only person to respond, lol, so David waved her down to the microphone, and she sped down the flight of stairs and across the arena. He asked what she wanted to sing, and she said that she would sing "O Canada" because she knew she wouldn't forget the words. (This struck me as funny, because a lot of people who sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" at events forget the words). The woman did an awesome job, though, and of neat to have the event open with the national anthem. She got a very nice ovation for a job well done.
Then the show began, and the opening number set the scene for "Chez Shae's". All the skaters played a role, and remained at cafe tables just off the ice when it wasn't their own turn to skate. Shae-Lynn and Victor were the owners of the place and the best dancers in town. Brian Boitano was Hernando. Kurt Browning was the Party Boy. David Liu was the Artist. Jennifer Robinson was the Single Girl. Todd Eldredge was Big Daddy, the bouncer (he hilariously "bounced" a party-crasher that was around twice his size, lol). Jenni Meno & Todd Sand and Isabel Brasseur & Lloyd Eisler played couples (from what I recall, Isabel and Lloyd portrayed a longtime couple who kind of got on each other's nerves, lol). Each of the skaters had two cold spots in the show.
Shae-Lynn and Victor skated to Michael Buble's "Sway" as he performed it live. The song was playful and the skating matched it. Throughout the number, Victor throws himself at Shae-Lynn, only to have her toy with him. A funny move I remember was Victor being dipped by Shae-Lynn, she then dropped him on the ice, lol. The number was absolutely perfect for them and a lot of fun to watch, and Michael's live accompaniment made the program come alive even more. For their Act II program, Shae-Lynn and Victor skated their "Mack the Knife" program. This is probably the best performance of it I have ever seen in person, and it brought them a partial standing ovation (one of the few of the night).
Isabelle and Lloyd were last-minute replacements for Jamie Sale and the injured David Pelletier, and they delivered the kind of pinch hitting you'd hope for in the World Series, lol. They were outstanding in both performances, and their sole glitch was an odd slip that brought down Isabel on her solo spin in their Garth Brooks number (which she joked about during the re-takes). They flat-out brought down the house in their Act II program, "In the Middle", and garnered an enthusiastic standing ovation.
Jennifer skated the two programs she performed at "Dreams on Ice" a few weeks ago. In the first act she skated to her wonderful short program, and in Act II she skated a flirty number (the song might be called "Touch Me Tiger", or at least has that line as a lyric, lol). Jennifer skated well and hit a nice triple lutz in the first performance; she seems very comfortable with this program. She later joked that she had to make sure she got out there for re-takes, since eligible skaters need all the practice time they can get, lol.
David Liu skated to a Spanish-themed instrumental piece of music. It was amazing to watch a true dancer on the ice. Everything that he did flowed effortlessly from one thing to the next, and his movements were simply mesmerizing to behold.
Jenni and Todd skated to "I'm Your Man" in the first half of the show. Even though I've seen it a lot, it is always a fun number to see again, and I don't think that they've previously had a chance to perform it in Canada. The crowd seemed to enjoy it a lot. For Act II, Todd and Jenni skated to what sounded like a live version of "Makin' Whoopee" by Ray Charles. This was a very cute number, especially because of the faces that Jenni and Todd would make depending on what line of the song was being sung. I am not normally a big fan of programs that have music where an audience can be heard on the song, but it wasn't too distracting to this program, and the humor more than made up for that. Jenni and Todd had to re-do their throw double axels for both programs, but skated well otherwise, and I was excited about my first time seeing them skate this season.
Brian skated to Michael Buble's "Summer Wind" in Act I. Isabelle aided Michael by escorting him across the ice onto a little podium that was placed near center ice. This was a cute number because it allowed Brian and Michael to interact a bit as they performed. Since I had to alternate between looking at Brian's skating and Michael's...well, just Michael, LOL, I might have missed seeing a couple of Brian's elements. I believe Brian included a spread eagle into a 'Tano triple lutz, a triple combo (the second jump of which was singled), and another triple toe loop.
At one point, Brian skated by in a spread eagle, and as Michael sang the lyric "my fickle friend", At the conclusion of the performance, Brian did a hockey stop that sprayed ice onto Michael, which brought laughter from the crowd. This performance was one of the better pairings of a singer and a skater that I've seen, and it was a lot of fun to watch.
Brian's second act program was to "Hernando's Hideaway", which was new to me since I hadn't seen it before. At the end of this program, I suddenly realized two things: 1.) that it's been too long since I've seen Brian skate live, and 2.) I really missed seeing him skate! Some of Brian's elements in this program were 3/2 combination and a 3/2/2 combination, which brought a big "wow" response from the crowd. Yes, the man can still jump, lol. Cute highlights of the program were Brian briefly dropping in to visit Kurt by leaning on his table, and when Brian struck a match (amusingly in sync with a lyric about striking a match), then lit a cigar, puffed some smoke into the air, and put the cigar out in his hat, lol. I loved that this number showed off a lighthearted, comic style of musical interpretation from Brian.
Kurt skated to something that may have been called "Ding Dong Daddy" for his Act II solo. In the first half, Kurt skated while Michael sang his awesome version of "Moon Dance". What I remember about this program is that Kurt, as the party guy, tried to get Jennifer and Shae-Lynn to dance with him, and unsuccessful, skated alone.
I have to laugh because as usual, I have essentially no notes written on either of Kurt's programs. It seems that when he skates, there is always something going on (a hop here, a step there, a footwork sequence that you don't want to miss, etc.). When most people skate, there is a moment or two after they do a jump or a spin where you have time to write something down, but with Kurt, any time I try to do that, I miss something. So, I have reconciled myself to the fact that I will always have lacking Kurt Notes, but I can say that both programs were very entertaining and fun.
Todd skated to two new numbers. For his first act performance, he skated to a dramatic symphonic/soundtrack piece called "Revolutions". (Or, "Revelations", if not "Revolutions". In the future, I should really think to write the answer down when I ask a question, lol.) This looked to be a technical program (possibly for the World Team Challenge?).
Sporting his "Carmina Burana" red-and-black costume, Todd completed some fast footwork sequences as well as a terrific triple axel, a triple lutz, and what I think was a triple toe; I have more trouble identifying his jumps because of my own inability to think in reverse, lol. He had kind of a wild ride on the double axel, of all things, and had to put his free foot down to steady himself (it seemed the jump had too much "Revolution" for just a double, lol). I was a little distracted in trying to identify the music, but I enjoyed the program, and it was very well skated, with his trademark ending combo spin to finish off a job well done.
Todd's second number was to a country song, possibly by Garth Brooks, possibly called "When You Come Back to Me Again", possibly called "On a Prayer", possibly called something else entirely, lol. He wore a shiny multi-hued bluish shirt and black pants. (Thumbs up on the costume!) I am not particularly a country fan (could you tell?), and kind of groaned a little when I heard the steel guitar at the beginning of the song. That said, I ended up completely loving the program, as did the crowd.
Todd skated very strongly again and completed another triple axel in the way that probably makes you sick if you're a skater having trouble with the jump; he makes it look like the most effortless thing in the world to do. The program also featured several other triple jumps, as well as Todd's awesome split jumps and fast ending spin. This was a program that built in emotion to the end, and the audience was understandably on their feet at its conclusion, giving Todd an appreciative standing ovation.
Collaborative bits of the show were well done, too. At one point, Michael appeared on hockey skates, and proceeded to sing "Fever" while skating around a bit with Shae-Lynn and both Jennifers. As Shae-Lynn skated by Michael, he followed her, with the Jennifers close behind in pursuit of him, lol. As the number progressed, Michael flirted with all the girls, and ended up with Shae-Lynn, while both Jennifers went over to Todd E., and pulled him out of his chair with some flirty dancing moves.
Todd then skated a bit on his own with Michael still singing. I feel like I'm using the words "fun" and "cute" for the tweltfth time (and I probably am), but this whole routine was very cute and fun! I hope it makes the broadcast in its entirety, because the TV audience will be missing out otherwise.
In probably the top highlight of the show, Kurt and Brian skated a duet. There was a minor theme of them being rivals at Chez Shae's (at one point, Big Daddy a.k.a. Todd had to separate the two from an impending altercation, lol). This theme carried through to their duet, where the two tried to one-up each other as they skated.
The number started out with Kurt skating to "Hey Pachuco". Brian then joined him for a showdown, and as the two stood at the end of the ice, facing one another, they took off doing mirrored footwork down the length of the ice, all the while facing one another. They did more matching footwork, and squat spread eagles designed to pass by each other close enough and fast enough to make the audience gasp (which it did). A hilarious moment of the program involved the two coming face-to-face at center ice, only to have Brian take Kurt into a dance hold, then "dip" him and bring him back up, only to have Kurt mock-slap Brian for his impudence. That got a huge laugh from the audience. The two also did side-by-side double axels (which someone must not have done perfectly, as they did them again in re-takes), but the mistake turned out to be a good thing as the audience got to see much of the program again.
The closing number of the show was great fun, with the skaters at the boards moving to some big band sounds while everyone took turns doing elements on the ice. Random Todd-dancing note (for those of you who I know have an interest in the subject ;)): As he was on the sidelines while doing a lot of this, I'm not sure how much of it will make the TV coverage, but grooving to big band sounds seemed to come quite naturally to Todd, who really got into it, and kept the beat like a 40's bandleader. It was like, hello Scatting Todd, lol. Color me impressed.
The skaters all eventually came together and paired off with some swing moves. This was extremely well-choreographed and well-skated by all, and I think Jen and Todd (as in Robinson and Eldredge) made an attractive dance couple! I hope the broadcast shows the entire closing number (rather than join it in progress coming back from the last commercial, as sometimes happens).
The show ended with David Foster suggesting that since Michael skated, perhaps Kurt could sing a bit for the audience. Kurt joked, "Who do you think you are, David Foster?", to which David replied, "Who do you think you are, Brian Boitano?" This caused a collective "Oooooooh" from the audience, and Kurt said something like, "I don't even have a comeback for that!!!", putting his hands on his head in pretend despair.
Unfortunately, the planned "impromptu" Kurt song hit a snag when the microphone to the piano wouldn't work. Kurt filled the time by joking, pointing out that he saw a button and that they just needed to turn the piano on. When Kurt stood up, the piano briefly could be heard, so then Kurt stood again, as if the act of him standing up could turn on the piano. Then, he joked that someone needed to turn his legs back on. Kurt is a master of improvising when dealt a technical snafu or delay in a show, and can always keep the audience entertained just by being Kurt. =)
When Kurt finally did get to sing a little, he sang the first few lines of "The Piano Man", and he wasn't half bad! It was at least in tune as far as I could tell, lol. Then Michael took over most of the singing (though at first his microphone didn't seem to be working). Eventually, David asked the whole audience to join in, to some success (there was not as much participation as there likely would have been had everything gone off without a hitch). I think the point of ending the show in this manner was to entertain the crowd while resting the other skaters for re-takes.
If ever you attend a show that requires re-takes, it's that much better if Kurt is there. His quick wit keeps everyone entertained and the re-takes end up being a highlight of the show.
Overall, the only downside of the show was that the show itself was so short! It didn't begin at the scheduled start time of 7:30, and it was over around two hours after it began (which included a 20-minute intermission). We were certainly left wanting more! Thank goodness for re-takes! I am guessing most of the show will make the broadcast, and I'm looking forward to seeing it on TV!
P.S. I forgot to add something else of interest; Kurt is a bleached blonde! LOL! He said that it was for the show, but I wonder if he'll keep it like that for awhile. It's pretty cute; he looks like a surfer boy!