Stars on Ice
Kurt List

Kurt Browning's Gotta Skate 2004 Review

Copps Coliseum - Hamilton, ON - Oct. 16, 2004

written by Tina

Every year, Kurt Browning's Gotta Skate goes in a different direction, trying out new themes and concepts, and this year was no exception. Whereas the first Gotta Skate really lived up to its original title of "Gotta Dance", blending dance and skating in often interesting ways, Gotta Skate II went a more rock-based, high-energy route, utilizing rock stars and acrobats, while Gotta Skate III tried centering the show around a central concept - a night at a club with the skaters playing characters. All three shows tried to do things both onstage and off, with varying results. Gotta Skate IV took yet another route. All the trappings of the previous three shows were gone - there was no dressed stage, no off-ice non-musical performers, no obviously stated central theme. What there was, was skating, pure and simple, occasionally enhanced by the live performances of Michael Bolton or Jann Arden, standing unobtrusively on a small platform on a corner of the ice. The singers were there to add to the experience, not to distract attention from what was happening on the ice. And they both did a marvelous job. Incidentally, this show will be airing on CBC in Canada on Dec. 8 from 9-10PM EST, and on NBC Dec. 19 from 4-6PM EST.

Speaking of the music, for anyone who wants to hear music clips or buy the songs:
Act I:

Act II:

Act I:

Opening Number - Nessun Dorma - Cast w/ Michael Bolton singing live

The show opened with very little fanfare. Michael Bolton was announced (by Kurt's voice over the loudspeaker, as would continue over the course of the first act in what seemed to be pre-recorded introductions), the skaters (sans Kurt) came out on the ice and got into their opening poses, and the music started up. Prior to the show, I had read that Michael Bolton was slated to "sing opera", performing Nessun Dorma, and found the concept mind-boggling. I knew the man had a tremendous range, but he was a *pop* singer (last I knew of him) with a rather hoarse quality to his voice. I had heard Bryan Adams attempt to sing O Sole Mio at a Pavarotti and Friends concert in the past and knew just how badly a pop singer's take on an Italian aria could be. To my very pleasant surprise, Michael Bolton did a tremendous job singing Nessun Dorma. Slightly hoarse voice, yes. Lacking the smoothness and operatic quality of your typical opera singer, yes. Powerful and emotional voice that effortlessly reached all the notes? Also yes.

As for the skaters, the men were arrayed in simple, effective looking black toning through grey down to white shirts and black pants, while the women wore white dresses. We found out later in retakes that the choreography to this number was done by Brian Orser. As you might expect from a Brian Orser ensemble, the choreography to this number was elegant and didn't feel like the number had just been thrown together and rehearsed in 3 days. Kurt was highlighted, entering last and getting a few spotlight moments, as would be expected from a Kurt show, but overall this was a nice ensemble piece to some beautiful music.

? - Kurt Browning, Brian Orser, and Elvis Stojko

The opening number transitioned smoothly into the first group number of the evening, a particularly special thrill for Canadian audiences and anyone who appreciates men's figure skating. Three Canadian greats whose dominance over men's figure skating spanned over a decade, each with their own unique style and personality, together on the ice, not to compete, but to work together in an immensely charming ensemble number. The music was a rather Riverdance-y sounding instrumental, fast, upbeat, and exuberant-sounding, and the choreography and mood of the piece matched the music. As would be expected from three great footwork skaters, there was a lot of great footwork in this number, both from each skater individually in a bit of "look what I can do" one-upmanship, but also from all three skaters together as they seemed to go "hmm...ah ha, I can do that too". There were also side-by-side jumps and a death drop. The number balanced between the three seeming to just hang out with each other, and the three reaching out to bring the audience into their number with a lot of personality. What was probably the most fun about this number, though, was the immense amount of fun all three men (Kurt in particular) seemed to be having with it. This is a number I'm looking strongly forward to seeing on TV, not the least because there as a TV camera smack in the middle of my view of center ice, where the three of them spent at least part of their time out-footworking each other.

If I Could - Katarina Witt with Michael Bolton singing live

After the three men left the ice, Kurt's voice came over the loudspeaker announcing "Two-time Grammy winner, Michael Bolton, and two-time Olympic champion, Katarina Witt". Michael Bolton came back out on the small platform that had been set up for him for the opening number, while Katarina made her way out on the ice. This was a slow, pensive, longing number. Kat's costume was a purple dress with black lace around the bosom that looked rather familiar, and her choreography was a bit reminiscent of that program (if anyone remembers which I'm talking about). Long spread eagle, glidey moves, a single or double jump or two, spins, and just pretty choreography. As someone mentioned to me later, she has gotten a bit slower and less smooth, but she's still got a lot of charisma on the ice. The live singing also helped to add to this program, since the singing seemed to me to have a bit more raw emotion than a studio-arranged recording.

There was a rather long transition between numbers here as the stage crew tried to move the platform off the ice and kick the string of lights out of the way. Kurt's voice came on to inform us that the show was being recorded for TV (airdates listed above) but otherwise it was a loooong pause. Gotta Skate II made it very clear that the show was intended for TV audiences more than the ones in the arena with the way they transitioned between numbers and did retakes on the spot of some of the announcing. The only clue we had in Gotta Skate IV that the show was a bit more geared towards TV were these long pauses that no one bothered to try to fill, as they worked with the logistical issues a bit. It only happened maybe twice in the entire show, though, so it didn't end up being that big of a deal. The audience was surprisingly quiet during the pause as well.

? - Jennifer Robinson

Finally, though, Kurt announced "Six-time Canadian champion, Jennifer Robinson", as Jen Robinson stepped onto the ice. I really liked the music for this program - very bluesy, with a female singer singing with that kind of loose but passionate style a lot of blues singers achieve. Unfortunately, I've had no luck whatsoever tracking this song down through Google. I also quite enjoyed the program itself. I've only really watched Jennifer Robinson skate in the last year or so, and while she lacks the sparkle of a Josee Chouinard, she's got her own quieter brand of personality out there, and this program was a nice difference from the more cutesy programs of the previous year. More attitude, a bit of posing, but also some nice jumps, footwork and spins. A nice program.

Somewhere in Time - Brian Orser

Next was "Two-time Olympic silver medalist, Mr. Brian Orser" who came out to shouts of "We love you, Brian!!" This was Brian's fantastic "figures" number, where he opens the number performing a series of figures, seeming to progress through the stages of figure skating, moving from the basics (the figures) up through more advanced spinning and jumping and edges. I still don't quite get the sweater vest costume, but this is a program that Brian is particularly good at. There's a calm elegance to it which slowly builds into passion that really captures the audience. First standing ovation of the night (IIRC). Granted, there were quite a few standing ovations by the time the night was over, but this program was the first to inspire that reaction.

Somewhere Over the Rainbow - Jamie Sale & David Pelletier

Of course, the next act "Olympic pair champions, Jamie Sale & David Pelletier" were surefire crowd-getters as well. Poor David, though - I heard a lot of "We love you Jamie!" yells from both men and girls, but not so much with the "We love you David" (it was either in this program or the next one where he actually reacted to this like "ok, well fine, no, that's ok...I don't need your love" (not in those words)). This was an interesting version of the well-known classic by Jewel. IMO, a bit on the over-emoting side vocally, but the overall feel of the song had an interesting slow, restrained, almost lackadaiscal (yet emotional) feel to it. The choreography worked well with it. I don't know if it's because I haven't seen them enough yet or because they haven't fallen back on the same old same old yet, but my impression of Jamie and David is that they haven't yet resorted to pulling out the same bag of tricks and basic choreography in different order to different songs thing yet. Instead, they seem to be seeking variation in their programs and choreographic choices. Sure, there are some repeated elements - they seem to do that handstand lift an awful lot these days, for instance. But for the most part, their choreography feels like it's specifically chosen for the music, rather than just arbitrarily fitted to it. It's nice to watch. And got a tremendous reaction from the audience. IIRC, they did make some minor mistakes in this program, including David unable to hold his center on the spin they do where he sticks out one foot, while Jamie is suspended from his hand and foot (if that makes any sense) so that the spin couldn't be completed.

Here Without You - Elvis Stojko

Then came "Olympic silver medalist, Elvis Stojko". I have to be blunt. Elvis didn't impress me in the least in his solo numbers at this show. And neither did the audience. In fact, both made a rather negative impression on me to the point where I could barely stop myself from rolling my eyes and groaning aloud in disgust by the end of his second program. And believe me, this is not a reaction I tend to have, I tend to be fairly positive or neutral about all skaters. And I've never really watched Elvis skate before so I honestly had no opinion of him one way or the other before this show. My problem was that about 50% of Elvis' choreography seemed to consist of skating with one arm extended towards the audience (evoking an instant wildly enthusiastic cheer from that segment of the audience), blowing kisses, standing with both arms outstretched (love me, love me, aren't I awesome?), or stopping dead to point into the audience (or at one point, climbing over the boards to plant a kiss on an audience member and taking an inordinate amount of time to do so). That alone wasn't the worst part, though. That made me roll my eyes and say "that's really not choreography, Elvis". The worst part was how the audience completely ate it up, cheering as if a god had come to earth and was generously bestowing his presence on them. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not against audience interaction or making the audience feel included. But it should be done in the course of the program, integrated into the choreography organically and *not* the point of the program. For instance, Kurt stops for a while in "Don't Fence Me In" to rope in an audience member, or plant his hat on another audience member, but it's integrated right into his character and choreography. And he's actually doing something besides standing there and pointing at them. Shae-Lynn later in the show flirted with parts of the audience outrageously but it fit her program and choreography. Elvis' programs, on the other hand seemed an excuse to do some nice jumps (and they were nice - I can see why he was a world medalist and Olympic silver-medalist), an occasional good footwork sequence, and spend the rest of his time basking in love from the audience. That his programs got standing ovations, especially when skaters like Yuka Sato and Jason Dungjen, who did more in their programs, didn't, completely pissed me off. I can see that Elvis can be a good skater - his jumps and footwork and spins were nice. But I can't believe he gets away with the kind of choreography he does and gets the kind of reception he does. OK, end rant. Sorry if I offended anyone.

Breathless - Yuka Sato & Jason Dungjen

Poor Americans (or at least non-Canadians) "World Champion and US Pair Champion, Yuka Sato & Jason Dungjen" had to follow the audience's lovefest with Elvis. This program was a really upbeat, fun number to "Breathless" (if I found the right song on Google), a very 50's-style song. Yuka and Jason were dressed in era costumes, with Jason seemingly part of a bowling league and Yuka in a really cute 50's-esque dress. The choreography had a lot of the two of them dancing together (again, 50's-esque), and some neat lifts. I do have to admit that this program oddly felt a bit less well-choreographed than their later number (which was apparently only put together in the last 2 weeks specifically for this show). In particular, there were a few times when Jason had to spin Yuka around his body where the transitions seemed more than a bit awkward. Overall, though, this was a fun program, and the two seemed to enjoy performing it. Yuka had this definite twinkle in her eye and Jason had a lot more personality than I've given him credit for in the past.

Yuka and Jason may not have created this program particularly for this show (could have fooled me), but the number was obviously placed here for a reason. I said before that the show had no obvious stated theme. It didn't, but the ensemble numbers at the close of Act I and Act II had a definite 50's-ish American music feel. At times, I felt like Kurt was the one doing the "Salute to American Music" show. Yuka and Jason's program set the mood and transitioned nicely into Kurt's first solo program of the evening.

You Win Again - Kurt Browning

Kurt's program was skated to a Hank Williams, Jr. song, kind of old country style with a slow rockabilly sound to it, and it was clearly a character piece. This time around, Kurt seemed to be playing a mechanic at the "Heartbreak Garage", wearing grey coveralls with a handkerchief/rag stuck in the pocket, a backwards baseball cap, and "tattoos" on his arms. Poor, possibly dumped mechanic. The program was played for laughs to a certain extent - not in an overt comedic way like "Slippery Side Up" or "Rag-GIDON-Time" or even "Bedlam Ballroom" - but more in a body language/facial expression way. Kurt seemed overly angsty with a way-too-pained look on his face in some of his moves (particularly one of his final spins, where he had a hilarious arrrgh look on his face). He did the kind of exaggerated wiping his brow and wiping his nose kind of "I'm a coarse mechanic" thing a few times. But the program came together through its choreography and not just the funny character moments. Lots of interesting and different footwork (in an entirely different style than his "Ding Dong Daddy" or "Moondance" footwork) and some nice jumps (including, IIRC, a beautifully high double axel). I liked it quite a bit and am looking forward to watching it on TV.

Act I 50's style Closing Medley
Right Behind You Baby (Charlie Rich)
?? (something about "you got me shaking like a leaf on a tree")
Rockin' Daddy - Sonny Fisher
Blue Suede Shoes - Elvis Presley
?? (something about "shake it right up??")

Kurt's number transitioned right into the act I closing medley, with Katarina and the other skaters coming out to join him on the ice as he stood there. Everyone was dressed up in bright 50's-era costumes, with huge poofy skirts on the girls, and the guys dressed up in era costumes. It actually felt a little bit like that closing number to the 1996-97 SOI show with everyone dressed up for the school dance, only with less distinct character. But it kind of felt like a 50's sock-hop. Very very upbeat sequence of songs, and some really really fun moments. Aside from the skaters getting periodically paired off to dance together (Kurt with Katarina, I believe Elvis with Shae, Brian and Jen) or trading partners, we had Kurt surrounded by the girls at one point and dancing with each of them as the guys looked on, or Elvis (inevitably) coming out to Blue Suede Shoes, or Brian jumping into the arms of the guys who swung him back and forth while the girls looked on. This didn't at all feel like an ensemble that had only been rehearsed for a few days, it felt more like a slightly simpler and shorter version of an SOI act I closing ensemble number. Absolutely a joy to watch and a great way to end the first act.

Act II:

Act II opened in a far more low key way than Act I had ended. As the music for intermission wound down, I caught a glimpse of a head peering out of the doors to the tunnel, dressed in a cap and layers of clothing... wasn't sure who it was until she appeared minutes later at the other end of the ice. It was Katarina the cleaning lady, dressed up in old-fashioned looking layers of dresses and a cute little cap! Apparently, Kurt and Kat set out to showcase Katarina's comedic side at this year's show, and put together this connecting series of little bits with Katarina that did a nice job of connecting together the first few programs of the second act, providing a nice bit of comedy, and transitioning nicely into a later pairing that I'll describe later. Katarina had her rags and her broom and her mop, and was busily tidying things up. She set out two stools on the platform for Jann and Kurt and brushed those off, and then settled back to watch and await further opportunities to clean.

After a bit, Jann Arden and Kurt made their way out to that platform to banter back and forth a bit before the second act started. In all honesty, I found this part a tad bit forced with several long pauses that threw off the rhythm of the banter, and Kurt not always sounding 100% spontaneous and sincere (Jann fared slightly better but even she sounded unsure of what to say at times). But it was also a fun bit, since Jann would ask about a skating element and Kurt would demonstrate it. For instance, she asked him about stopping, and he did a slide stop in front of her with arm outstretched towards her, saying something about "this is one way to stop, look in your eyes.." and then laughing at himself and saying "that was very Brian Orser-esque, wasn't it!" Or she asked him about spinning and how they didn't get dizzy and he said the key was to close your eyes, and that some skaters found spinning to be a good place to take a break, but he finds spinning hard, having to keep your leg up (as he did a camel spin) and not get dizzy. At one point she asked him to do a "triple lutz-salchow-loop thingy" to which the audience and Kurt responded with much laughter, and Kurt saying "Anything but the lutz, she had to go for the lutz!" Jann cracked some jokes about the outfits and how they ran out of the tiny outfits so she just took an usher's suit, and that she tried on a sequined tube top but on her it was a cumberbund. Also, when Kurt asked her if this was an unusual gig for her, she talked about doing a charity thing in Sausalito where she sat in a hot tub filled with skim milk and Lucky Charms, where people would buy a box of Lucky Charms for $100 and pour it on them. Kurt said - maybe next year we can do that together! His most unusual gig was riding in Egypt on a camel with Kristi Yamaguchi...with skates on. Jann's response to this? I don't know why he drinks before these things! Oh, and during Kurt's demonstrations of skating moves to Jann, Katarina kept coming out and cleaning up after him, sweeping the ice after his top, and then mopping the ice after his spin. After staring at her in some puzzlement, Kurt finally excused himself from Jann and walked Katarina out, loudly whispering "we talked about this!" and ushering her off the ice (though she stuck her head back out the doors and hastily swept at the ice when Kurt turned around). They finally got around to introducing Jann to the audience and talking about what she was going to sing... as Kurt said, one of his favorite songs of hers, he missed his mother... and Jennifer Robinson was going to be her "guide" into the world of figure skating - he was so jealous. Jennifer came out on the ice and Kurt went back backstage.

Good Mother - Jennifer Robinson with Jann Arden singing live

This was a really lovely program. Jann's got a beautiful voice and the song was beautiful. She sang with such feeling - I think I'm a converted Jann Arden fan =). Jennifer's choreography was beautiful as well, with beautiful spirals, some footwork, a few jumps, spins, nice edges... A few times, she went down to the stage end to skate towards Jann, which was nice. I really liked this program a lot.

If You Loved Me - Yuka Sato & Jason Dungjen

I was very surprised to find out in retakes that this program had only been choreographed 2 weeks prior to this show at the request of Kurt and Lea Ann, specifically for this show, because it was simply lovely and not at all unpolished. Yuka and Jason are seriously the hardest working pair in skating right now, as Lea Ann said (they're in like 5 Disson events and choreographing programs specially for particular events?). This was definitely my favorite of the two programs that Sato & Dungjen did in the show. Smooth, lyrical, with a bit of a longing overtone. Just really beautiful.

All That Jazz - Shae-Lynn Bourne

Katarina came out again to assist Shae-Lynn, who came out in a red silky wrap. She removed the wrap and brushed Shae-Lynn off, as if getting her all prepped to start her program, while Shae-Lynn posed as if she was a starlet waiting for her assistant to finish getting her ready. When Katarina was finished, Shae skated over to the side and draped herself against the boards between two men who somehow or the other were sitting on the outside of the boards (hmm, pre-arranged). When the music started up, at first I groaned b/c I thought the music from "Chicago" had been way overdone, but then Shae started skating. I don't know of a single lady in skating who can skate as flirtatiously as Shae-Lynn or move her body in such slinky ways while still doing a lot of interesting and active choreography. She's not just standing there and posing, she's really moving, but she oozes sexuality the whole time. The girl obviously loves what she's doing and she skates with real personality and pizzazz. Also, apparently Victor really wasn't necessary for some of her most famous moves, as she does a lot of low-to-the-ice Shae-crusher type spins or the hydroblading that were among B&K's signature moves. I'm not sure Shae-Lynn can stand up straight to save her life, and I don't know how she stands having her hair in her face all the time, but what she does really works well for her. At one point in the program, she went to the end and grabbed a glittery purse, which she used to spin around her head as part of her choreography, and later came in handy when the part of the soundtrack came up where her character confronts her husband and shoots him. This was obviously all pre-arranged, but Shae skated up to a guy who had these two women hanging off of him flirtatiously, and the four of them mimed the whole scenario, with her "shooting" him as he looked all alarmed and keeled over. The audience completely got a kick out of this.

You Mustn't Be Discouraged - Kurt and Katarina

As Shae skated off the ice, Katarina came happily out with the wrap, ready to wrap Shae back up in it, but she breezed right by with her hand in the air, for all the world a snotty starlet brushing off an inferior. This left Katarina looking all despondent, as Kurt came out of the doors to see what was going on. At first, Kurt was all admonishing and shrugging like "what can you do?" as Katarina lay the wrap out on the ice and then sprawled face first on it in apparent despair and discouragement. As Kurt shrugged to the audience, Katarina picked herself up and brushed off, and then went over to Kurt, apparently pleading for something as he shook his finger at her and shook his head. However, when she turned away sadly, he seemed to relent, skating after her with arms outstretched, seemingly about to give her a hug, when she turned around and caught him off-guard. Her spirits seemed to magically pick up and then the two did a really cute number to "You Mustn't Be Discouraged" (lyrics run along the line of "when you're lying in the gutter, feeling just a bit unsure, just wait until tomorrow, you might be lying flat-faced down the sewer" or "when you think you've hit the bottom and you're feeling really low, you mustn't be discouraged, there's always one step further down to go"), with Katarina apparently "playing the Carol Burnett" role. This was a goofy, comedic number, with Katarina at times seeming to run circles around Kurt, and other times the two just seeming to comically not quite meeting on the same page. For instance, they'd stretch out their arms and skate together to meet and dance, and then skate right by and look perplexed. And at another point, they spun each other around and bonked heads, wandering off rubbing their heads. It was just a really adorable program. According to Lea Ann Miller in rehearsals later, Kurt and Kat had worked on the program together over the summer, with the intention of doing it in this show and showcasing Kat's comedic side. Did a nice job of it, I must say.

Mi Mancherai (Il Postino) - Brian Orser

In a rather large change in mood, Brian came out to skate to this beautiful, slow, more operatic (in a pop-operatic sort of way) song by Josh Groban (boy is he a popular singer to skate to). This was a beautiful program, showcasing Brian's elegant lines and beautiful edges, as well as a bit more passionate of a program than "Somewhere in Time". Unfortunately, the details of it are slipping my mind, but it was a really pretty program for Brian.

In These Shoes? - Yuka Sato

Again, a change in mood. Yuka's solo program of the evening was full of sass and personality, skating to a rather cute song where the words basically seemed to center around the sentiment "do that, in these shoes? you're nuts!" It's really nice to see how Yuka really branches out in different directions in her skating, sometimes skating beautifully lyrical programs, sometimes skating more flirtatious attitude-filled upbeat pieces like this, sometimes doing pairs, and in pairs, doing both slow and fast numbers. She's also got these effortless, neat looking jumps where she's up, spin, back down, without hardly seeming to impact the ice. I don't know how Yuka keeps track of so many programs in a year but she does a fantastic job of it. Fun program.

The Middle - Elvis Stojko

After my earlier rant, I don't really have much to say here except, more of the same. Mouthing the words/singing along while pointing at the crowd is *not* choreography. Nice jumps, though. Thank God he didn't make any mistakes so we didn't have to watch him do retakes. Crowd ate it up. Brasseur & Eisler did a much better program to this song.

Radar Love - Jamie Sale & David Pelletier

It's just a bit disconcerting to watch Jamie and David skate this number since I associate "Radar Love" rather closely with Kurt, to the point where I feel like Jamie and David should be wearing yellow/orange tight shirts and black bottoms instead of silvery shiny material =). This is a really fun program, and Jamie and David come out obviously ready to have fun. In the opening pose, Jamie was already winking at the audience, and she makes a lot of eye contact throughout the program. As usual, the two fill the program with a lot of cool athletic lifts and throws, but it's also got a lot of personality and fun choreography. Great program.

You Don't Know Me - Kurt Browning with Michael Bolton singing live

Poor Kurt. First time through this program was a bit of a mini-disaster. It started out really well, with Kurt showing yet another side to him - this one the more pensive, slow, and genuinely kind of angsty. The song's got a bit of that slow pseudo-bluesy feel to it (nice performance by Michael Bolton, btw), and Kurt captures the feel of it. The last program was character-based, this one seems more tightly introspective, with Kurt spending much of the time looking down at the ice as he does footwork, or off into the distance as he does a spread eagle or edgy move. It has a bit of a feel to it of Kurt out there alone, pensively skating in an empty rink while he mulls over his life and loves. But Kurt being Kurt, this is not just edges, but also some interesting, once again different, footwork. It's a slow program in an entirely different vein from "How Do You Keep the Music Playing", for instance. That, to me, felt in some ways like a generic male ballad anyone could do. This felt much more Kurt-like to me b/c of the character and mood elements to it. However, first time through this program, he doubled a sal, then accidentally sat down on a spread eagle-to-Besti transition as he went by Michael, got up in some embarrassment (goofily enough that people were laughing already) and then accidentally went down on his next jump, clearly thrown off by his mistake. After this, he didn't quite seem to know how to recover - he tried for a while, but then apparently decided that since he had to retake anyway and the crowd was just giggling away, to give up, ending up on his knees at center ice, shrugging apologetically to Michael while laughing embarrassedly. He ended up going to borrow the mike from Michael, saying "Yeah, ok. You'd be distracted too! I'm serious. I was like, trying to listen and trying to watch, and then I'm in the air, and then not so much... (to Michael) and we're *not* paying you by the minute, right? Me and my tushka apologize." Michael responded "Ah, I'm honored to accept that. Now you know what a high C feels like."

Since this is being taped for TV, they apparently decided to do the retake right away while Michael was already out there and the platform for him to stand on was already set up, so Kurt went off down the ice to stand in his opening position, before apparently remembering that he actually started off behind the doors, quickly dashing back there and then trying to stop the doors from flapping, setting off gales of laughter in the audience. I have to say, Kurt always makes his screw-ups really funny. The second time through, the program was perfect, even more so than it was before he started screwing up the first time. Beautiful triple sal where he had doubled it before, beautiful spread eagle into Besti, beautiful double axel, clean steps, and he was possibly sunk even more into the character and emotion the second time around. Lovely program though I'm not quite as fond of the shirt =). I definitely look forward to seeing this again on TV.

Finale - Rock This Town - Cast

For the closing number, Kurt went backstage, while Elvis, Brian, Shae, and Jennifer opened the program. It was to "Rock This Town" by the Brian Setzer Orchestra (which has been done in skating shows before, but is still a great deal of fun). This program was kind of along the lines of a closing-number version of the act I closer - upbeat, fun, with everyone in their 50's costumes and dancing with each other, but shorter and with special spotlights to different members of the cast, like S&P and S&D doing side by side Detroiters/pairs moves, the two girls going out and spinning and doing things side by side, and Elvis and Brian going out and doing things side by side. It also featured a special appearance by "The King". Not Stojko, but Kurt in a white sleeveless shirt and a huge Elvis pompadour wig. At one point in the program, the singer goes "say rock this town!" and the skaters were obviously trying to get the audience to say it too, but it didn't quite catch on, unfortunately. The skaters seemed to be having fun with it regardless. Towards the end, Kurt pulled his shiny jacket off and spun it towards the boards, where a few fans frantically grabbed at it, finally reaching over the edge to pick it up off the ice. At the very end of the program, there was a bit of silliness where the music turned to frantic drumming and instrumentals, and each skater went out for a short bit to be "spotlighted" but basically just spun frantically around waving their arms or being otherwise goofy (at least, I think that was the closing number and not the Act I medley). In a cute moment, when the skaters were taking their final bow, Brian was next to Kurt and peering oddly up at the huge pompadour on his head, before kind of noogying him.


After the final bow, Kurt stayed out with the microphone, telling the audience just how much fun he'd had and doing a mea culpa about losing his concentration during his last program. He then tried to figure out where his jacket went, saying "that thing cost me like $26". The fans gave it back and then he said something like "if I was going to give it to you, I'd do something like..." before spinning it more aggressively and sending it flying back towards them again, much to their delight. He thanked the crowd, the sponsors (says if you can, to try to get adopted into the Smuckers family like he has, b/c they've been some unbelievable sponsors, and that Tim Smucker was there - "you can't get any more Smucker than this guy!"), and then generally tried to kill time. Kurt can apparently do an Elvis impression (singer, not skater), and after pointing out his little boy on the side, said "I hope he grows up to be just like his dad" while patting his wig, before saying "enough's enough" and taking the wig off. I couldn't see Gabriel too well (across the arena and TV camera in the way) but he looks like a dark-haired little boy. Kurt still seems slightly blown away by having a show of his own, commenting on that and how he freaks out every year but he's so proud of the show. He finally seemed more than a little fed up at how long people were taking, complaining "what, are you shedding skin in there?" and then saying how it's those people with hair who take forEVER. Finally Jamie came out and said she was waiting for her partner, and she even had to change her hair (Kurt: So did I), but before David could come out, Yuka and Jason came back out ready to do their retake of their "Breathless" number. Kurt, Yuka and Jason chatted just a little bit, and during this, David came out, saw Yuka and Jason, looked puzzled, and then scrambled backstage with Jamie. Since there were people ready to do their retakes, Kurt left them to go backstage and let Lea Ann direct things from above. Before Yuka and Jason started, though, we heard Kurt's voice over the loudspeaker from backstage going "Is this thing still on? Ooh! Somebody turn this off."

After Yuka and Jason, Jamie and David came out and goofed off a little while they set up, but then were told to go over and tell the music guy where they wanted the music. (I think this may be where someone yelled something at Jamie when she was over talking to the music guy, and David went over to sit by the boards and pout) It was kind of funny, b/c Jamie and David clearly aren't used to the retake protocol - they went to do their retake, finished the move, skated a bit more, and then stopped, only to be informed that they stopped to soon for the edit point on the video and had to do it again. David yelled something like "I've never made a mistake, I don't know!" to the amusement of Lea Ann and the crowd. This time they did both retakes correctly, and on we went...

After S&P came Brian O, who knew exactly what he was doing and landed his retake perfectly. After that (my sequence might be wrong), Jamie and David had to retake their spin on their SOTR program, S&D had to retake a lift and some other stuff in the Jann program, with Jann out to sing the whole thing again (she said she needs a retake as well, her fly was undone. She also responded to Lea Ann's voice over the loudspeaker saying "is that you God? I always knew you were a woman!"), so they actually redid the entire program... Katarina did a retake to a recording of Michael Bolton as opposed to the actual live performance, though she spent some time retying her skate before starting... I don't *think* Jennifer or Elvis or Shae-Lynn did any retakes. At the end, Brian came back out to give us a final backflip, but was interrupted by Lea Ann (who recognized the wind-up) who informed us that Michael Bolton was going to come back out to sing Nessun Dorma to us in thanks for us being patient enough to wait until the end. Brian was then allowed to do his backflip, thanking the audience (where'd Kurt go?!). Finally, Michael came out and gave us a fantastic performance of Nessun Dorma. Excellent show =). Definitely can't wait to see it on TV.