Stars on Ice
Kurt in SOI
Creative Team

Stars on Ice Review - Lake Placid, NY - Nov. 24, 2001

written by Tina

First of all, the show's lighting was kickass....I don't know if it'll be like that for the rest of the tour, but I hear they have a new lighting designer, and what I saw looked really neat. More lights on the audience than normal, lots of overhead colorful wavy lights, not so many of those obnoxious bright lights on the side of the rink that blind you and prevent you from taking good pics ;).

Before the show started, Scott Hamilton came out and started talking to the office...asked how many people were there for the first time, and then said "Me too!!" He said something about it being the first time in 15 years of this show that he's going to get a chance to actually watch Stars on Ice. I forget everything he said, but eventually he goes and sits on the side of the ice to watch his first Stars on Ice show =).

The opening was very different and quite cool - first just a plethora of light changes around the extra rink, and then dark...you can sort of see someone skate out...and then a single spot turns on over Lucinda doing this cool sideways layback spin (not sure if that's what it's called but it looked neat)....light goes out, she skates away and back, light goes on, and she's spinning in a different position... Lucinda's spinning really is incredible - the speed, the positions...and she was wearing a really pretty dress as well =). The music was something like "I fell in love with you during the second act"...that music repeated a few more times during the beginning of the show. Anyway, that music ends, the lights go down and Lucinda skates away, and the opening number to Black Betty starts...

There wasn't that much unique about this year's opening. It's very upbeat, and it's kind of neat b/c the skaters pair off and they're all dancing together... Steven with Katarina, Kurt with Tara, K&O, M&S, Kristi and Denis, and Ilia and Lucinda...after a while we had a hypothesis that the skaters were paired off by height, to a certain extent. Katarina, Lucinda, and Angelika were all about 5'6" or taller, so none of them could be paired with Kurt... Jenni already had Todd, and Kristi and Denis do a number together, so that leaves Tara with Kurt. I'm trying to remember - I think it was early in this part, the girls all have boas or big feather puffs on, and they start shedding parts of it, one step at a time, just throwing them up in the air with the guys running around trying to catch all of the feathers (they actually do get all of them). The girls are then left with bright pink (orange?) gloves for the rest of the number. Anyway, the number was fun but not particularly outstanding.

Towards the end of the opening, the girls end up in the middle by themselves with the guys around them on one bended knee...each girl goes to the guy that she is paired with and dances around him, starting off on his knee, etc... they all move towards the tunnel, and finally end up with the girl pushing the guy with one hand on his chest... the guys all go down back on one hand and the girls break away and converge in the middle... I think the guys sneak away out the curtain after this and Lady Marmalade starts....

Considering the music, Lady Marmalade is just about what you would expect. In case you've forgotten, the song is the one that goes "voulez-vous coucher avec moi, ce soir"... the girls essentially vamp to the music... the choreography isn't half bad here, and all the flirting is pretty appropriate for the music. At one point, the girls all step off of the ice in front of the on-ice seats...if your seats are on ice, on the side to the left of the tunnel, towards the other end of the ice, your husbands will probably be pretty happy ;).

If I remember correctly, the girls break away and a vanity table is pushed out...Katarina puts on a robe and sits down at the vanity table and starts musing about her life on stage... remembering what it was like to win, musing about the sacrifices she's made, etc...(if this was supposed to be metaphorical it was a really obvious metaphor). Then I think she was talking about falling in love or not being able to, and in the meantime, Angelika, Oleg, Jenni, and Todd come out and set up in poses, followed by Steven who is standing alone...the opening bars of a tango start up, and each couple, as well as Steven, start into a tango... then Katarina joins in with Steven. I don't remember that much more about that number, but I did enjoy it.

After the tango comes Kurt, skating to the song that Ed Robertson of BNL wrote for him. Same costume as Gotta Dance (you guys get to see that on Sunday =)). It was neat being able to see the program live, whole, the way it's supposed to be when Ed isn't there...it's an entirely different feel. Even though a lot of the choreography is the same, it no longer feels like he's making it up on the spot. Instead, it feels like a finished, solid program. Some highlights of the program - the footwork towards the beginning...Kurt does these little slides of footwork where his feet kind of go ahead of him...it's hard to explain. The body slide... at one point the music hurries up and Kurt takes off running down the ice, and then goes down into a slide and up again. I still think the program is no Antares, and to be honest, I would rather he did "Am I the Only One" for SOI, but the more I see this program (without Ed), the more I like it. And dude, Ed wrote it for him so I really can't complain, eh? Kurt was really on with the jumps as well for this program...that I remember, I saw some beautiful 2-axels, 3-toe, and possibly a combo? I think he may have done a 3-sal as well, but I don't really remember.

Tara's program opened with her voice talking about roses...nothing about St. Theresa here (from what I understand, she talked about St. Theresa at the World Ice Challenge for this program). This program was really pretty. The costume, the music, the choreography, all flowed together really well. Towards the middle of the program, she goes over to the side of the ice and picks up a rose and skates with that for the rest of the program. The program was just lovely and I really liked it (a bit surprising for me, I haven't really enjoyed many of Tara's programs in the past).

Kurt must have done a wicked fast costume change, b/c he was back out once again for the next number. What happened first, though, was that Kristi and Katarina joined Tara out on the ice, each with their own vanity table. They start "dishing" about guys - "did you see that guy in section blah row blah seat blah?" "oh yeah he was good looking" "oh he's not my type" etc... then they start talking about what their type is while Kurt, Steven, and Denis are out on the ice kind of posing (if you saw my pictures you have an idea of what's going on) in these nice white flowy shirts and black pants... someone who's handsome and talented (Kristi: a hockey player?), funny, balding..(all three of the guys whip around at this point, but Kurt was first I think ;))... "Scott Hamilton!" "Ooh let's go call him"...the girls then run off the ice and each guy goes to a vanity table and collapses across it like they're all stricken with unrequited love, etc... Kind of like this was what the object of their admiration touched, and so they're treasuring it. I don't remember all the moves they did with the vanity tables in this number, but I was quite impressed b/c the tables were actually quite large and yet they were manipulating them quite deftly - you'd think they'd totally lose control of them. They took off skating and rode the tables... they skated in circles with them, they leapt through them (the picture where it looks like Kurt's crawling through the table is actually him jumping through the opening), they started tossing them to each other, they held on to them in a star shape and went around really fast and they finally ended by kind of sliding through them head first and ending up with their faces on the ice and their feet up on the table. If I stopped to think about it, it did seem like more props too soon, but if you ignore last year, this was a pretty nifty number and I enjoyed it. It was also an entirely different feel from Chairmen. On the other hand, if they do another prop next year, I don't think I'll enjoy it too much - time for Christopher Dean to find a different trick in his bag of tricks, I think.

Ilia's number to Rendezvous came next. I don't quite recall this number that well except that it, and the other two programs Ilia did, had very similar feels to them. They were good - some cool moves, more demonstration of how strong he is and how good he is at getting into weird positions, good footwork, and some really high jumps...but except for the fact that Pick Up the Pieces was more upbeat, all three programs felt very much the same. But this was the first I saw and I enjoyed it.

Angelika and Oleg's Last of the Mohicans program followed. When the light came up, I was quite surprised to see Angelika basically balanced on a stick with Oleg holding her up... they did a lot with that stick during this number, whether it was Angelika essentially hanging from it, them skating with both holding on to it, her up on top of the stick, etc. I had never seen the two of them skate before and was very pleasantly surprised. I really enjoyed their skating - very fluid, fast, and lots of interesting positions and changes, and their music interpretation was quite good. I still miss Renee and Gorsha, but K&O definitely fit in quite well into the cast.

Steven skated to a Tom Jones medley that I think fit him quite well. Very energetic and upbeat, very fun. I remember at one point he does a split or something like that, acts like he hurts himself, and goes right into the tunnel, before reemerging to continue the program. He is obviously having a great deal of fun skating to this program, and it was really fun to watch.

A big change of pace next for Kristi's Gold program. A bright light shines out of the tunnel down the ice, and Kristi comes gliding out with the light behind her... very smooth, beautiful opening. She's dressed in a really beautiful gold dress, and the program is just classic Kristi... beautiful line, choreography, etc... the only down point was that she seemed to be struggling with her jumps, turning out of some, doubling others... otherwise it was a lovely program.

One of my favorite bits (surprisingly) came next - Jenni and Todd skating to tango music.... Todd starts off towards the side of the ice wearing black coveralls with the word "CREW" on the back in red. Jenni is dressed in one of those robes that the girls put on all night at their vanity tables, sitting on a chair in the middle of the ice. Throughout the whole program, Jenni doesn't get out of the chair. Instead, Todd skates around her, spins her around (even once in a death spiral (is that what it's called?) where she's laying back in the chair but still holding onto it), even lifts her at some points but she's always in that chair. I really liked this program b/c it was neat how they used the chair, and b/c I think Todd finally got a chance to show a bit of his playful personality... it was more up to him to make it work rather than just showcasing Jenni, and I think he really rose to it. Lots of fun =).

Out comes Ilia again to faster paced music (and lots of cheers), skating to Pick Up the Pieces. This number was a lot faster and more furious, with more footwork and sort of dancing, so it felt more different than the rest of his programs that evening. Good stuff.

After Ilia finishes, Katarina, Kristi and Tara come out on the ice with mikes, and Ilia gets one as well. They trade little compliments or something and then Ilia says something like "are you kidding? I get to stand out here with three Olympic gold medalists!" Kristi says "actually, counting you, that's four Olympic gold medalists" and then Katarina says "well, actually, there's a total of five gold medals out here" (referring to her two Olympic golds)... I forget what Ilia says at this point but the girls skate away and pick up chairs from the end and sit on them. They start reminiscing about their medals, talking about wondering where the 2002 Olympic gold medalist is now- she's probably training and working hard, etc...it's going to be the greatest day of her life but she'll learn that it's only just the beginning... they talk about being nervous and Katarina says she remembers how in Calgary she was so nervous she just kept applying more and more makeup...there's a bit more of stuff along this lines, but then to my utter shock, they actually start rapping. something about "g to the o to the l to the d"...at this point in time, I started laughing uncontrollably and even though I was trying to suppress it, I really couldn't stop. Everytime I went to stop, I'd look back on the ice and listen to them rap (they actually did basically a whole song's worth) and it'd set me off again. It was both utterly hilarious and really really cheesy/sad... those three girls can not rap. They shouldn't even have tried...

Anyway, as this number draws to a close, I *think* the other three girls join them and they skate around for a while...and then suddenly, four guys (I believe Kurt, Todd, Steven, and Denis) burst out onto the ice in showgirl costumes and feather boas..and as you all know at this point I left the arena to turn in my advance order form and didn't see the rest. From what I understand, though, it was quite funny =).

The second act opened with Lucinda... she starts off in this really big robe, skating slowly down the ice...it's dark, but occasionally a spot lights up in front of her and she skates through it - I don't recall if she spins or moves or something in the spot before she moves on and the light goes out...she finally reaches the end of the arena, drops the robe, and starts skating. It's true that the most impressive thing about her skating is her spinning, but she's a beautiful skater in between as well. Oh and btw, she's blond now - apparently she spent hours in the salon that very day changing her hair color. I really liked her program, it was really pretty, and those spins just take your breath away.

Unfortunately, after this came probably the second (or tied for first) cheesiest parts of the whole show, and it actually had our very own Kurt Browning in it...Tara and Kurt doing Rainy Days. Note that I didn't skate skated to, b/c there was very little skating going on in this number. Tara starts off sitting at her vanity, musing how rainy days always get her down, make her frown, etc (I think she was basically reciting the words to the song)....Kurt comes over to her and basically starts pleading with her to come to him whenever she's feeling down and let him be the one to cheer her up... he kneels in front of her table, she turns away, he skates around to her other side, she turns away again, saying it's no good..at one point, she says rainy days always brings her down while gesturing downwards with her hand at him and he immediately drops to his knees like a dog... the whole thing is him basically acting really goofy and little kiddish going "let me be the one" over and over while going around her... the cutest part was when she goes "are you listening to me?" and he goes "nope!" while doing a little bit of footwork and before breaking into asking her to let him be the one... he also says at another point "i don't think i've ever mentioned this before but..let me be the one!" finally they end up sitting on either side of the "mirror" on the table and she says something like still, it's nice to have him around and know that someone loves her...and then, I swear I heard a smooch =P. And then it ends.

From what I hear, that bit makes more sense if you've seen Moulin Rouge, but as a whole, I found it quite weak and vaguely sickening. It's really too bad that one of my least favorite parts of the show, Kurt's in.

Anyway, moving on... Jenni and Todd's "second" (the tango program was really short) program to Roberta Flack was next. It was really pretty as well, and their teal costumes were a great deal prettier than the pink things they had on last year... It kind of seemed in line with their previous "we're so in love with each other numbers" but at the same time, it was still a really pretty program and I think they're becoming better and better at show skating and really putting themselves out to the audience.

When I read that Kristi was skating to Janet Jackson, I was dreading it, but this program was actually really good. She skated to Trust a Try in a black outfit and long, teased ponytail, and proved to me again (I had started to forget in the last couple years) that when she really wants to, Kristi can bust a move =). Gone was the elegant, flowy Kristi, and in was the dancing, rocking Kristi, and she did it well. I quite enjoyed it...I think this year was the first year in a while that I've really enjoyed both of Kristi's numbers.

The next program I doubt you will see on TV, b/c it's really hard to shoot and b/c they had a technical problem but didn't reshoot. Dark arena, Angelika, Oleg, Denis, and Lucinda in black, each with a powerful flashlight in their hands, skating around the rink. They created some really cool effects, alternating the lights, turning them on and off, doing some other random moves. the coolest part had to be when Lucinda went into the middle and started to spin with her light in her hand....you really got a sense then for just how fast she goes when she's spinning...very very cool. unfortunately, one of their flashlights burned out, so the effect was somewhat lessened by that. The music was "Oh yeah" by yello, a song that I'm sure everyone will recognize when they hear it.

Ilia's Rubberman program reminded me very much of his Rockit/Drive/Driven programs... lots of flexibility, very cool getting down onto the ice and getting off of it again moves... he gets incredible height when he jumps as well. Beyond that, though, I dont' remember it that well.

Katarina's only program of the evening was to "The Case Continues", a program that I believe she's done before... very effective, dramatic, and I think she did a great job to it... I've started being bothered by how Katarina holds her hands when she skates, but in this program it wasn't that noticeable.

Kristi and Denis' pairs number was simply beautiful. The song was "One Day I'll Fly Away" from Moulin Rouge - the song sung by Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor (though I swear I didn't hear his voice once during the song). Absolutely lovely program - no throw jumps but a lot of different lifts, I *think* a side by side jump, pairs spins, at one point Kristi is draped across Denis' back (her arms are wrapped around his, her leg around his) while he does a spiral. The two of them skate together really well and this was definitely one of the highlights of the evening.

After Kristi and Denis leave the ice, the lights go up and start doing funky things while this electronica-sounding music comes on...there's a recognizable "whoo-hoo" from the opening Elevation in there but there's also some singing that doesn't sound very U2-ish..turns out that the version of the song Kurt uses is a remix. I'm not sure if it's the one off the Tomb Raider soundtrack or not, since I've never heard it, but it's not the version that U2 normally performs, and I thank God for that. I love U2 but I really don't like Elevation. The remix is ok though. The opening of this number is really cool though... spotlight at the opening of the tunnel and Kurt suddenly leaps into it, does kind of a pivot/spin around one toepick (with bended leg and the other straight out - he's done it before and you'd recognize it when you saw it) and then a really cool line of footwork down the ice. This program was easier to take pictures of than a lot of Kurt's other programs b/c he does a lot of footwork and dancing in place. On the whole, though, I really liked it - very high energy, lots of very cool footwork, great jumps... and a much better version of the song =). I definitely want to see it again, but it was a very cool program. Oh btw Kurt wears real leather pants during this number that he says weigh 5 lbs.

The last program of the evening is Tara skating to her American Tribute medley... I had issues with her costume. It's supposed to be a policeman's costume, I think - buttoned up blue jacket like thing - but I really feel that she should have been wearing pants under it... it was very disconcerting to constantly see her black panty things under them b/c the short skirt kept flipping up, when she was supposed to be skating a tribute to the American heroes. There are all sorts of cuts of music in here, from Shenandoah to "I'm Proud to be an American"... that last bit was, I'll admit, rather stirring, but at the same time I hope she doesn't do it in the future...seems a bit much for her to be skating to that in April...makes sense now, since it's only been 2 months since 9/11, but in April? The coolest bit wasn't her skating, though, it was the lighting - at the close of her program they put a pattern on the ice that looked like the American flag (you can see it in one of my pics) and dropped a big flag down at the end of the rink as well.

The finale this year was a return to the medley type finales of the past. This year it's to the Carpenters. The thing is, they totally jazzed up and remixed the songs so they sound absolutely nothing like the originals. The only song they left intact was Solitaire, which Kurt skated to in a simple black costume. That was really beautiful...very clean, flowy, and soft... the rest of it, though...I'm not a Carpenters' fan, so it didn't bother me, but other people who were were not at all pleased with what they had done to their music. I think how much you enjoy the finale is going to depend on how much you like the Carpenters. If you do, you're probably going to be very disappointed. If you don't, then you may enjoy it, b/c you won't realize how they've butchered the music. This finale didn't make much of an impression on me, I have to admit, b/c I can't seem to remember anything to write about besides Kurt's Solitaire.

They did some retakes after the show this year - they handed the mike to Steven but he said that he was totally useless at this and handed it to Scott...Scott was like "this isn't my job anymore!" I don't remember there being that much interesting during retakes...oh yeah, when Todd and Jenni came out, they had to change tapes in all eight cameras...while they were just skating around, suddenly Kurt comes out from the tunnel and does a really fast, tight set of crossovers right back into the tunnel and set the arena laughing. They decided to take advantage of that and hand him a mike..the break was so long he started running out of things to say..he was like..uh...does anyone want to hear about steven cousins' last date? then he was like no, i couldn't do that to him..if you hadn't noticed, steven is a lot larger than me... etc etc... when they finally told him the tape was ready,he was like phew! and promptly ran back in the tunnel. I think I did get my proof that they don't necessarily see all the on ice people during the show b/c Kurt didn't seem to have any idea where Scott was sitting. Kurt did some retakes to Elevation, goofing off as normal - he had to retake them several times, acted all tired skating back to teh tunnel... finally was flapping his hands to get himself all the way to the tunnel and then bumped face first into the curtain,...I don't honestly remember what else happened.

Well..there's my review....hope you guys enjoyed it =). Overall I liked this year's show quite a lot, which surprised me. After reading about the theme and the cast, I really wasn't sure I would, but SOI hasn't failed me yet. I do know that a lot of other people were disappointed in it (and some of them weren't hesitant at all to tell Kurt so - his response? "yeah I know, the show gets worse every year. Can you imagine what it was like 20 years ago? How good it must have been if it's like this now?") but I rather liked it. I think you shouldn't go in with your expectations too high, but I do think you will enjoy it. As it turns out, Lucinda, Katarina, and K&O were quite good additions to the cast. I still miss the people who weren't there... but you know what? I didn't miss Scott Hamilton any more than I missed any other skater. I think SOI will do quite well without him. So, check out this year's show. Who knows. you might like it. =)