Stars on Ice
Kurt List

An Evening with Scott Hamilton and Friends Review

The Gund Arena - Saturday Nov. 6, 2004

Written by Trudi

Last night I attended Scott Hamilton's annual show to benefit the Taussig Center at the Cleveland Clinic, where he received his cancer treatment. This was my first year in attending the show, which is now held at Gund Arena, although I seem to recall it began in a tiny way at the Cleveland Skating Club. Back in those days, all the tickets cost hundreds of dollars apiece, which excluded just about everyone but the high rollers from attending any part of the event. Now, however, with tickets to the Gund show running for less and only the patron tickets, which admit you to the post-show cocktail hour and dinner dance, running higher, a whole lot more people can afford to support this cause.

I don't consider myself a high roller, but when an event like this not only gives me the opportunity to support the eradication of cancer through efforts in my hometown, but offers me the privilege of watching figure skating while doing it...and throws a Brian Orser appearance into the mix as a deal sealer...well, I'm there. ;-)

The rather bizarre thing about this particular show was that although it was Scott's benefit show, Scott himself did not perform. He claimed to have hit himself on the head recently while performing a backflip. I don't know whether this means he did a Totmianina on himself and was thus in his stay-off-the-ice observation period or what, but in any case, he appeared only in a suit and skates with a microphone, introducing the show, people meaningful to him (wife Tracie and son Aidan), the Cleveland Clinic and others (Roz Sumners' husband, Bob Kain) and making sure people knew what it meant.

The guest musical performer for the show was LeAnn Rimes, and here again some concessions apparently had to be made. Later at the dinner we heard that LeAnn had come down with laryngitis a few days before the show. This is most likely the reason that her music during the show sounded "canned," as in the instrumental part of it, despite the physical presence of a band, was obviously prerecorded (except for possibly one acoustic guitar solo and the last song) and she may well have been doing an Ashlee Simpson during the rest of the show (except again, possibly, for the last song). But at least she showed, which is the important thing.

The show got started in the best possible way in my book, with Brian Orser performing a very new number--yet another trip back to the Neil Diamond well, this time in the form of "Crunchy Granola Suite." Love it. Love it. Love it. This was quickly followed by Caryn Kadavy, traveling a ways down the lake from Erie, Pa., skating to some song about how "everything is nothing if I don't have you" or whatever--very nice. And Ilia Kulik kept the ball rolling and delighted me completely by doing something I have been waiting thirty-odd years for some skater to do...skating to Art Garfunkel's "All I Know." Beautiful. The woman sitting next to me--who, for unexplained reasons, had been in Hershey, Pa. the night before to see Kristi Yamaguchi's Disson show there--said that so far she was seeing the exact same show she'd seen the night before, so if anyone cares to see some fine numbers by fine pro skaters (what a thought!), I guess you will have to tune in Kristi's show when it airs on NBC.

My memory of the skating order and so on is pretty dim from here on in, but there was a lot of good stuff. Caryn Kadavy, Kristi Yamaguchi and Roz Sumners doing a little trio to one of LeAnn's songs. Kathryn Orcsher & Garrett Lucash skating to another one (and her going splat on both the throws, unfortunately--they just may not be used to skating on an ice-show-sized surface). Kurt Browning skating to LeAnn's "How Do I Live Without You," a number he had put together, according to Scott, in about a day's time (you wouldn't have known it). He was entertaining as always, and hit several triple toe loops during the course of the evening (although he doubled the salchow). It was terribly impressive of him to come up with that program for "How Do I Live Without You" at the last minute, but typical of good-old-ready-to-improvise Kurt...it contained a nice string of footwork, among other things, and I wouldn't have known, had Scott not said it, that he came up with it on the fly!

Silvia Fontana being stunningly sexy in black pleather hip-huggers. Jumpin' Joe Sabovcik getting as high into the air on those tuck axels as ever, and doing a quad toe loop if I'm not mistaken, to some metal-band-performing-with-orchestra tune that I didn't recognize (probably Metallica). Roz coming out in a stunning pink-and-red-beaded showgirl dress, flanked by Brian and Steven Cousins hiding her with huge red feather Sally Rand fans, before she skated her tribute to her own husband, "De-Lovely." Steven Cousins also being stunningly sexy teasing the audience along with his rock performance. Kimmie Meissner holding her own and pulling off what looked to be a correct triple lutz in her performance to boot. Brian coming back out with another new number I had at least heard about, Josh Groban's "Il Postino," and looking again like the Master of Edges and King of Double Axels. Ilia returning to do some instrumental thing I probably should have recognized, in very colorful clothes, and looking great again. Caryn Kadavy in a forest-green dress skating to "Amazing Grace." Kurt reviving his old "Don't Fence Me In" number, complete with the blue cowboy suit with the "47" pants. And Kristi Yamaguchi reviving an old number of hers, "Bridge Over Troubled Water," to great effect. (The woman on the left of me said Art Garfunkel had sung it live at the Hershey show. Yet another thing to watch for if you actually like professional skating.)

The finale of the show featured everyone in white outfits doing their stuff to LeAnn's version of the Led Zeppelin classic "Rock 'n' Roll"--appropriate enough in the rock capital.

And then there was the dinner afterward, at the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel on Public Square. Beautiful. A symphony in stargazer lilies (which perfumed the entire ballroom all night), the biggest roses I've ever seen in my life, greenery, dusty rose-colored satin and twinkling lights. Bravo. As it turned out, Caryn Kadavy's parents were sitting at my table, so I had a chance to talk to Caryn afterward. As it turns out, Silvia and John also passed by my table to get to theirs, so I had a chance to compliment her and tell him it was too bad we didn't get to see him perform. (Another woman at the table, to me: "Did you see them on 'Queer Eye'? Weren't they great??") Later, I had a chance to talk to Brian, which is always a joy. But to those skaters I didn't get a chance to talk to...thanks. And a big thanks to Scott for helping this happen every year. Your talk about "eradicating" cancer is right on the money. Better treatment is great, and that's what those who already have it need. But what everyone else needs is to JUST PLAIN NEVER GET IT. Amen.

My first time at this show was great. I hope that next year's show is even better.