Stars on Ice
Kurt in SOI
Creative Team

Stars On Ice Review - Providence, RI - March 11, 2000

written by Tina

All righty... time for me to plunge into my annual long review of the Providence SOI show, before I forget it all! =) BTW as usual, this is really long! Oh and if you don't want to know all the Kurt details before you see the show, you might not want to read this!

First of all, I have to say that I LOVE this year's show and that I had an absolute blast. Also, to end the suspense, Kurt landed a beautiful (not perfect, but gorgeously high) triple axel in Play That Funky Music RIGHT IN FRONT OF US!!! To backtrack, we were sitting in Section 123, Row C which was basically just off center ice, 8th or 9th row. Kurt was really on tonight! His jumps were right on, his spins looked good, footwork...goes without saying, and he was hamming it up and right out there with the audience... he looked really really good.

Actually, the entire show was a pretty "on" night for all skaters - only one major jump mishap, by Tara... otherwise everyone landed everything solidly.

For once, Wendy and I didn't really have any transportation mishaps on the way to the arena - we decided to take the bus, and that went smoothly. Amusingly enough, the bus driver didn't know how to get back to Boston on the way back though... but we made it =).

We got to the arena an hour early, and it was already packed with people. Headed for the program right away - I like the program a lot this year. The cover (back, front, and inside of front) is the entire cast from the finale, with Kurt, Kristi, Scott, Tara, Ilia, and Katia on the front of it. Along with the usual huge pictures of each skater, there are three smaller ones on and off the ice for each skater. There's also a huge cast picture in the middle and two composite pages of lots of pictures. There's some cute ones of Kurt off the ice. The program insert is printed on nice paper in color for once... looks good. Program goes for $12. (BTW this is the merchandise section for those who are interested. =) )

There is a heck of a lot of stuff being sold at SOI this year. There's the Best of SOI video, which I'm wondering if it's different than the original, b/c we happened to walk by when they were showing the Kurt segment on the TVs and during Scott's intro, they showed different segments of various others of his programs, instead of Scott just sitting there introducing Antares. Does anyone know? There were also both SOI calendars, Kristi, Tara, and Scott's books... the Stars on Ice book... mugs, gloves, mousepads, ornaments, keychains, pins, magnets, lots of different design shirts including individual shirts for Kristi, Scott, Tara and...Ilia? The skater's photographs were $6 each and the autographed ones were $20. BTW there was only one Kurt photo, from Raggy, which is landscape instead of portrait oriented, and he's not that large in it... but it's cute. There were like three Ilia, three Katia, three Scott.. etc photos to choose from. The one cast picture is okay, but... I dunno it doesn't look professionally shot for some reason.

Leaving behind the merchandise booths, we made our way to our seats... where as the geek that I am, I took out my new (borrowed) laptop to take notes during the show. Needless to say, that failed miserably since I was also trying to take pictures, clap, and generally enjoy the show =). BTW when the show starts, it's not entirely obvious so keep your eye on the ice. The lights don't go down all the way, but Kurt comes out all of the sudden, sliding like he doesn't really know how to skate...though I'm not surprised, since most people can't skate with skate guards on! =) then the infamous satchel is pushed out on the ice behind him... he turns around and sees it, and then skates really awkwardly back to the satchel... when he opens it, weird music comes on over the sound system - when he closes it it stops... you can just picture the types of expressions he's doing here. =) Finally he gets a hold of the satchel and skates back into the tunnel.,.and the opening number begins.

I really love this opening number. The music, the lights, the costumes, combine to make a really driving rhythm that keeps the whole thing going. I also felt that the choreography this year in the ensemble numbers fit the music very very well. In the beginning the skaters all come out in the near darkness and the announcer says their names, but it's not really correlated in that you can't see the skaters they're announcing (unlike previous spotlighting of the announced skaters). It's a much more cohesive group number than before...and of course, Kurt looked wonderful in it! He really looked into it.

Then all the skaters leave the ice one by one as the announcer says their names again (I think)...until only Tara is left, and she starts to skate to Bailamos by Enrique Iglesias. I like this music, and the number was enjoyable... It seemed that they were trying to emphasize the whole What a Wonderful World theme by using music from various nationalities. Lu Chen came out and skated to a song by Leon Now, who I've never heard of but it had the distinctive sound of Chinese pop. She had a fan during the number which she used very effectively to accentuate the beats and music transitions, and also just to look good. =) Then Kristi and Katia skated to a French song. Finally most of the rest of the cast came out and skated to a very upbeat Swingtown.

When the opening ended, Scott still was on the ice when Kurt came out for Raggy. Kurt's holding his satchel and generally acting goofy, but when he skates by Scott, Scott grabs ahold of the other handle and stops him short, taking the bag from him. Kurt goofs around while Scott looks in the satchel, and takes out Kurt's nose. He puts it on Kurt and Kurt skates off to the side of the ice to start his program...while the spotlight is in the middle of the ice. Scott yells "Four!" and points out Kurt's mistake to him.. Kurt looks sheepish and skates over to the spotlight, accidentally bypassing it... finally he's in the spotlight and ready to start. It was a bit weird watching Raggy live finally since most of the beginning and during the places where he's facing the audience doing something, he was facing the other side of the arena, so we saw a lot of his back and not as much of his facial expressions. The number was really fun though, and people around us were giggling like mad at what he was doing. Kurt was completely on, and nailed all his jumps without a problem. He put an extra spin (no pun intended) on his goofy camel where he finally straightens himself out and does the thumbs up - he actually sends himself into a very wild flailing spin before straightening out, unlike the more subtle stuff he does in competition. It's really impressive, actually, how he manages to keep his balance and control it. =) I was watching a lot of this program through a viewfinder, and I realize that I missed some stuff. It was really awesome live though! So glad I got to see it...of coures I was kind of upset b/c I ran out of film halfway through this program! Had to wait for it to rewind and reload while Kurt was still skating.

OK one other odd thing - there was this girl sitting on-ice in section 122, right by us, and she was very active throughout the show. She stood up at the end of this one with a clown nose on and Kurt came over to her and touched noses... it actually looked really planned. She also stood up and clapped the longest and loudest for everyone, and was acknowledged quite frequently by the skaters, particularly Kurt... I'm not sure if it was b/c she was a particularly vocal active fan or b/c they knew her, but I really wish I knew who she was...

After Kurt came Roca & Sur - I really love their skating and this program (Ghost) was beautiful. The colors and costumes complemented each other really well and their choreography fit the music wonderfully. Their closing pose is exceptional as well...love these guys ever since Time to Say Goodbye... Also I loved that instead of being a pair where the guy was there to show off the girl, both Renee and Gorsha held their own in presence and ability.

Katia's ribbon program came next and it was just gorgeous. Her use of the ribbon has really gotten better, and the way she uses it in her spins and jumps, as well as spirals and various other moves is wonderful. Only one small mishap with the ribbon here, when it got wound around her ankle and she had to reach down and extricate it before continuing.

Ilia followed with his Blues for Narada program, which I really loved. The music is great, and Ilia's choreography is better live than on TV (on TV I thought he flailed his arms around too much)... he really gets into the intense mood of the music (though I wish he'd try something light hearted for once, just so I can see him smiling and happy while skating). He did this huge double axel that was obviously intended to be a triple, and quite a few other gorgeous triples. He seems to have kept his technical ability up, and Stars On Ice is really honing his performance skills... loved it.

Then came Meno & Sand with Baby Did a Bad, Bad Thing... I usually find them incredibly boring and don't understand why they're in SOI, but this program was very suitable for them. I actually enjoyed it...and was very impressed with some of the lifts and moves and dismounts that they did. The audience seemed to really get a kick out of it too, although the audience was very into the whole show.

Genie in the Bottle was the last program before the Simon & Garfunkel ensemble. I loved the segway into this - Kurt comes out with a flashlight, looking for his satchel, and shines it onto the feet of all these people sitting on ice. He starts passing this one woman and suddenly turns around, rushes in, and next thing we know, he's snatched her purse and is skating away! He then gets a good look at it, realizes it's not his satchel, and throws it back at her. =) He continues to skate around (the ice is very dim at this point - Tara, Gorsha, and Denis have already taken their positions with Tara on their shoulders on one end of the ice) and suddenly lets out this big shriek/squawk, when he runs across his satchel. He picks it up happily, starts to skate forward and lets out an even bigger squawk of surprise (you can clearly hear Kurt throughout the show, whether he's squawking or happy or whatever =)) when he suddenly discovers the presence of the others on the ice. He skates after them, opens his satchel and all this smoke comes out... they skate past him, he's waving, goofing off, etc... they drop tara off, come at him, and he start skating nervously away from them before they pick him up and carry him off the ice with him in a reclined position, waving to Tara. =)

I like Genie in the Bottle a lot better in person than I did on TV. She seems to have grown into the dancing more, and she's a bit more believable and enjoyable. I think this was the program where she fell on a jump, but otherwise she landed most everything.

And now time for the Old Friends number.. Scott comes out skating to Call Me Al, and it's really obvious that the audience absolutely adores him. He gets the most cheers and applause, and a lot of appreciative laughter as he goofed around. One thing I came out of this show realizing - Scott spins really fast! He also does a very neat single axel, and his jumps are for the most part still really solid and nice.

Then Kurt & Steven as well as Katia skate out ...Katia goes to stand on the side and Kurt and Steven goof around before they assume their poses with Steven kind of leaning on his knee, and Kurt leaning over him (giving him bunny ears =) ). This number was lots of fun, though I was definitely looking through the viewfinder too much - at one point I had my camera trained on Kurt and Steven and the audience started laughing hysterically and I couldn't figure out why until I put down the camera and saw Scott skating hurriedly away from the same lady who Kurt swiped the purse from before, and she was laughing her head off. I have no idea what I missed at this point. =( It was so much fun - it was more obivous that Scott was trying to join in and was getting ignored by Steven and Kurt, and their interactions were just perfect. This segment was, in my opinion, way too short.

Then came Cecilia - I love the different styles that Katia is trying out, and this one really went well. Katia's skating around, kind of flirting with and rejecting Scott, while Scott skates after her, affecting indifference when she looks at him (checking his nails, etc) and running after her enthusiastically when she faces away. It's a really cute number and really fun - when she rejects him at the end, he sniffs his armpit like, what? why don't you like me? do i smell?

He then skates around a bit for Sounds of Silence, and then the three pairs (or rather two pairs and one dance) come out... this number was beautiful, though with so many skaters on the ice all doing beautiful lifts and holds, I didn't know who to look at! Gorgeous though...

My favorite part of this ensemble has got to be Kristi's Bridge over Troubled Water though - she is so absolutely beautiful in this program. I love the music, which definitely contributes to it, but the overall mood and feel of this program are lovely... it's actually very hard to describe the feeling I get from it, but it's an exquisite program.

Finally came Old Friends - the unison between these five skaters is a marvel to watch, and I really loved it... my only problem is with the music which gets oddly discordant in the middle, which I interpreted as trouble with the old friends, but they seemed to ignore the mood change altogether in the choreography. This was a really nice conclusion to the ensemble though...

then came intermission...

At the end of intermission, while the lights are still up (and annoying people are still standing and remain standing until the lights go down and someone asks them to sit even though they know there is stuff going on on the ice...but I digress), two tech guys push the zebra couch out onto the ice, and Kurt's sprawled on it sleeping. Not wearing skates, but these huge goofy shoes. =) He keeps sleeping on it for the next few minutes, changing position often, first just flipping over, then scrunching up to the end of the sofa, turning sideways, rolling over the sides of the sofa, upside down, up onto the middle thing, before falling onto the other side of the sofa from where we were... it was really cute =). There he stays while Lu Chen and Steven Cousins come strolling out and sit on the sofa where he was originally lying, kind of flirting and talking with each other. While they're sitting there, Kurt "wakes up", sits up, sees them, and suddenly ducks down behind the sofa again... he then spends the next few minutes, sneaking around the sofa, kind of mocking them behind their backs, making faces at them, spying on them, etc... As the other skaters come out and join Steven and Lulu, Kurt goofs around on the ice - he tries to high five Ilia (I think) after Ilia high-fives Steven, but Ilia ignores him so he looks all sad. Then he starts bopping around and gyrating like mad on the ice, before he realizes no one on the couch is paying attention to him and he leaves...

Then comes the start of the Club AC group number... I'm not sure why people have such problems with this program. Sure, Tara's young, but this is so obviously just them playing around. The four guys - Ilia, Denis, Gorsha, and Steven - skate together after Tara, each get their turn with her and spend the rest of the time bopping around together. They're all in these hooded long sleeved Ts which look like they're trying to look cool but not exactly succeeding =). Maybe just b/c it was upbeat, but this number was really fun to me.

Steven Cousins really does have a smile that projects to the rafters, and he uses it fully in his number... I think it's the only number he does in the whole show, but it was a really fun, upbeat number, and he was solid with his jumps on the most part...

Then came Lu Chen, who vamps a lot better than people give her credit for. But this program wasn't really vamping, it was more dancing, and she did it really well. I actually think she dances to modern beat music better than Kristi, who's too graceful and almost slow in her motions to do modern beat music. There are parts of the program where she interacts with Steven, basically rejecting him, and he acts like Scott, looking bewildered, sniffing his armpit, etc =).

The Kristi-Lu Chen - Steven number was kind of gratuitous I thought... well I thought it was silly to have Kristi "teach" Lulu how to vamp and flirt, b/c Lulu was better at it... it was still kind of fun though... and integrated well

Then comes Kurt on a scooter down our side of the ice, waving at people, and stuff. He finally gets to that girl I mentioned before, stops and gets off the scooter and hands it to her. He then takes off one skate guard and steps onto the ice, only to start skating and windmilling wildly, spinning out of control b/c of the one skate guard that is still on. He gingerly makes his way back to the side of the ice and takes off the other guard.

Throughout the whole first part of the Kurt/Tara duet, the part not shown on TV (with a great rendition of Billy Joel's She Got a Way, reworked to "He's Got a Way" by Bernadette Peters), Kurt's goofing around on the ice, essentially stealing the spotlight from Tara (who I didn't watch at all). He pulls off his red nose (with a loud "ow!!") and starts to "juggle it" - simulates juggling motions while occasionally tossing the nose around - before tossing it into his mouth and eating it.. btw the concoction of fruit roll-ups and rice krispies that they say this nose is made of sounds disgusting to me - I don't know how he does it every night. He then starts goofing off with the pockets of his pants and suddenly pulls the pants right off (he has purple pants underneath)...he converts the pants to a coat and puts it on.. throughout this whole time Tara keeps skating up to him and he somehow completely doesn't notice her even she's right in front of his face. He skates to this wire that was lowered to the ice, and hangs his coat on it (it goes up out of sight), and then goes back to center ice and squats down.... then it's to the part where we saw on the A&E broadcast. This Tara/Kurt duet is really cute, and Kurt really plays the little boy who's overjoyed to be with this girl very well. The part where he lifts her up, only to discover he somehow ended up with her feet by his face is precious - his expression - from "huh?" to "oops!" before sheepishly setting her down - is great. The missed kiss was kind of blech b/c from our angle we couldn't even tell that they missed. On the other hand his reaction made more sense - he looked puzzled instead of escatic. Overall I really liked the duet.

After this came Bechke and Petrov skating to a Russian folk song that really really grabbed the audience. They have the most amazing collection of lifts and spins and tricks... they had the audience gasping most of the time. The energy level in the arena was so high during their number, and I think they got the biggest applause after Scott's Don Quixote. Considering they're not nearly as well known as Scott or Kristi or Tara, that's pretty amazing.

Then Meno and Sand and Roca and Sur came out for the setup to (that's how I look at it anyway) Katia and Ilia's duet. This part was really nicely done, and I liked the costumes... then Katia came out and skated by herself for a while, before Ilia joined her. I think Ilia has really become comfortable with this number, and they complemented each other really well. Their lifts, and side by side jumps were beautiful, and this number was just wonderful to watch.

Then... Play that Funky Music!!! The music starts while the lights are still low, and Kurt starts the program before the lights even come up, so you can see him do his smooth starting moves, and then when the beat picks up, the lights suddenly catch him, and he's off... this program really grabbed the audience, who were clapping along, whistling, and cheering throughout it... Kurt's connection with the audience during this number is fantastic - he completely draws the audience onto the ice with him... And then there came the setup to the triple axel, his first jump..Kate was on one side of me frantically tugging on my arm b/c she knew it was coming up, and when we both realized that he was about to do the triple axel, and then when he went up so beautifully and landed almost perfectly, we both let out this huge scream..as did Wendy. What's funny is NONE of us scream like that on our own but when we heard each other we just completely set each other off I think. I think the people next to us thought we were complete freaks for being so excited about this one jump, esp. if they didn't realize it was a 3-axel and that Kurt hadn't been landing them during the competitive season. But we were so excited - I was in this state of giddy euphoria for part of the rest of the program. Kurt's dancing and jumps and spins and everything were just on... it was so exceptional, and I love that dance part in the middle with the new section of music. This was just an amazing program, and I wanted to stand up at the end but I couldn't without dumping off my laptop.

Then came Kristi with Smooth, which is another program I like better live, probably b/c I can't see her fist pumping as clearly from a distance. The music is great and overall the choreography is decent, though this is definitely not one of my favorite Kristi programs.

Ilia came out next with the Baseball Cap routine, which he had down perfect tonight. Not a single slipup with that cap, and he was right on with the jumps and spins and footwork. I really like this program, and Ilia completely carried it off tonight.

American Woman is probably my least favorite program of the show, but it was also much better in person. I think Tara's grown into the dancing more so the movements look less stilted and more integrated into the music. As Kate pointed out, she can't salute (she had her right hand like on the left side of her head), but I enjoy the music, and it was a decent program.

Then...Scott with Don Quixote. I never got past the costume on tape so this was the first time I had to see it live, and Scott's ability to parody serious skating (and ballet in this case) is amazing. The audience was laughing their heads off (as was I), and it was just perfect. And of course, you can't see the codpiece as well from a distance, which made it all the more better =).

Before the finale started, Kurt appeared on top of the tunnel, sitting next to his satchel... he goofs around, waving to people, and playing around, before standing up, and preparing to introduce the next number. He spreads his arms out as if to present something, only to have "What a Wonderful World" spoken in another language...he looks irritated and confused, tries again, and once again it's a different language. He tries for a third time, and finally it's in English - he does a little hip wiggle to celebrate it and then heads down to ice level.

This finale is great- the lights are very non-conducive to taking pictures, but the music and the choreography is excellently done. One part that didn't make it to the TV broadcast - about haflway through, Kurt and Katia pair off, and he ends up carrying her on his shoulder almost 3/4 of the way around the ice... the other pairs are also doing lifts, but I was watching them. In the beginning, Kurt looked not entirely happy, but at the end he was laughing and looked to be having the time of his life =). The finale is wonderfully done, and I didn't want it to end. Unfortunately, though, it came to an end, the skaters all bowed...and then left the ice...I thought they used to do a circuit where they shook hands?

After the show, we took some time to settle ourselves - we had seen people with backstage passes so we figured there woudl be some time before the skaters came out. Finally the civic center people basically kicked us out and we went out back to wait for the skaters. It was raining and disgusting, so we waited closer to the doors than we normally would have. We saw the big purple luxury bus waiting outside, and a guy who looked just like Ilia Kulik sitting in the front seat, playing with a chihuahua. Imagine our surprise when about 10 minutes later, the doors to the arena opened and Ilia and Katia walk out together... Ilia instantly took off running to get the car, leaving Katia to fend off us autograph seekers (all 5 of us). She didn't look like she wanted to interact - kind of tired and avoiding eye contact, so I didn't really want to approach her, but one of us did, and she was kind enough to sign her program so the rest of us approached her. Before she got to me, though, Ilia pulled up with the car, and she signed one last autograph and headed for the car... he didn't look like he wanted to interact at all - he was completely avoiding eye contact. We understood that they were tired and we didn't want to disturb them so we didn't pursue them - just said thank you - they kind of smiled and then pulled away. You know, that's the second time I got within 10 feet of them and didn't get an autograph? =)

We then waited a while longer, when the garage door opened, and a bus pulled out - we looked in the windows, and sure enough, all the skaters were on it. Scott was standing up with a baseball cap on backwards, eating something - he saw us and waved and smiled, and then kind of apologetically shrugged and waved his food like, sorry I'm busy eating! The other skaters didn't really look outside... we didn't see Kurt at first so one of us went to ask this guy who was on and off the bus, and he said that Kurt was on the bus. So they ran to the other side of the bus to see him - apparently he was facing our direction though, so he didn't look out of the window behind him. I didn't see him until I backed up, and only recognized him by ..um the top of his balding head =). But he never stood up or looked outside, so we didn't really get to wave at him... Saw Tara and a few other skaters walking around the bus, before they shut off the lights and pulled off.. At that point it was pointless to remain so we headed home. I have to say, Providence SOI is NOT a place where you can meet the skaters. And I really wonder who that Ilia Kulik look alike was in that bus...

But I digress. I had a wonderful time at this show...had fun meeting Brenda (hi Brenda! =) ) and seeing Kate again. highly looking forward to seeing the Canadian incarnation in April =). I was on such an euphoric high for the longest time after...Stars on Ice is incredible, and I'm SO glad that Kurt is back!