Chrysler Stars on Ice Review - Toronto and Hamilton, ON - April 20 and 21, 2001
written by Tina
Just got back from Toronto, and boy am I wiped out. I'm going to
write just a combined review, b/c I can't remember in some places what
I saw on which night. Besides, the show was the same, right? =)
First of all - crowd in Hamilton is SO much better than the crowd
in Toronto. I can see why they moved the taping... Toronto was
enthusiastic, especially in comparison to some American crowds (much
quicker to get on their feet, lots of cheering, esp. for Shae and Vic,
Kurt, and surprisingly (for me) Alexei). But Hamilton...Hamilton was
out of this world... before the show even started people were starting
waves up in the stands and cheering... and they were *very*
enthusiastic about retakes as well - less people left before they
ended than last year in Toronto, that I could see at least (people
might have been leaving behind me and I didn't realize it ;)).
Correspondingly, the Hamilton show was really on! There were some
mistakes (thankfully - I know it sounds bad, but I wanted to see
retakes =) ) but for the most part the energy of the skaters was high
and they were right on. With the exception of the triple axel in
Hamilton (which I wasn't sure he was going to attempt - was a double
in Toronto), Kurt had an amazing night.
Second...I was on-ice in Hamilton and I have to say... it totally
blurs my sense of objectivity. I love virtually everything about the
show when I see it that close... I think I probably look really stupid
since I'm sitting there with a huge grin on my face half the show =).
Third... Alexei has quite the sense of humor! He was hilarious in
retakes (apparently he reversed his pattern - which I noticed, since
he did his roll on the ice on the opposite side as Toronto) and I
think he fits in quite well, even if this program was a bit too
dramatic-movie-music eligible-style for SOI. On the other hand, Maria
has the most dour look on her face half the time, and doesn't know how
to connect with the crowd. Of the two of them, Alexei picked up group
choreography better - Maria always looked a bit off, esp. in New Moon.
Fourth - I'm not sure why, but Kurt's stuff is really overbalanced
to the second half... in the first half he shows up for the opening
number and then disappears until the very last program - Bring Him
Home - and then quickly comes back out for Tunnel Vision. But in the
second half, he's out on the ice 5 times - Chairmen to open, two
programs, then Don't Fence Me In, Let 'er Rip, and Sin Wagon... three
programs, and then he's back out for Nyah... Scott..and then the
closing number. He must be changing frantically backstage, skates on
and off! I guess if they wanted to close with Nyah there wasn't any
other way to do it, but wow...
OK, launching into the review:
Opening Number - I really didn't get into it in Oakland when I saw
it for the first time, but I'm in love with it now... the skaters
really seem into it and the choreography fits the music quite well.
There are many parts where I just don't know where to look because
there are so many things going on, but it's just so neats...all the
unusual combinations and lifts, etc... btw for those of you who were
wondering how they'd deal with having so few women, considering the
choreography... in the beginning, when they're skating down the ice
with hands joined, there are two guys at each end who are just skating
on their own ... and the girls have to work double-time when they're
all frozen at the end near the tunnel and the girls twirl their way
between the guys... oh and at one point, Kurt's got two girls at the
middle of the ice (Josee and Maria)...overall, very very fun...not as
energetic as Strobe's Nanafushi, but we'd complain if they did the
same style every year ;).
Scott - I Feel Good - he's really sparkling out there... maybe it
was b/c I was so close, but it seemed that he was totally feeding off
the energy in the arena in Hamilton, just simply beaming. Unlike the
States (if I remember correctly), he didn't get a standing ovation for
just appearing on the ice but he certainly did get an instant one at
the end of the program... in Toronto he mainly doubled everything, but
in Hamilton I think he landed a triple lutz... and a triple toe??
Star of Tomorrow - Dean (Sandra Bezic's son) both nights- simply
adorable...that is one absolutely cute kid. did a bunch of three
turns (I think?) and maybe mohwaks, bunny hop, and a lunge at the
end... had a bit of a fall in Hamilton, but was very cute...
New Moon in Old Moon's Arms... I like this number more every time I
see it. Nothing flashy, nothing spectacular, just simple clean edges
and a great deal of control... a lot of repeated moves but combined in
different ways each time (first Maria doing a...left outside? (right
inside? i forget) edge and switching to the other foot...then three
turn... then they bring out three of them and they do the edges in the
same direction.. then they bring out Alexei and they do the same
pattern in different directions). from my on-ice seats in Hamilton, I
realized that what they were doing that looked so simple, I haven't
been able to accomplish all year in lessons - just the simple control
of an edge from a light push... As for them using Maria and Alexei
instead of Tara and Kurt - for some reason I just didn't get the
simple joy in skating from Maria that I got from Tara (and I tend to
think Tara's smiles look a tad bit fake)... her unison was a bit off
as well. Alexei fit in quite well, though in Toronto I thought he and
Gorsha were going to collide (they came within 1/2 a foot of each
other) on that first edge they do towards each other.
Steven - Higher - when you sit close up, you just get drawn in by
that grin... he's definitely really comfortable in the choreography
now... I still don't think this is the best choreography there could
have been to this music, but Steven definitely gets into it. And I do
believe he landed some beautiful triples, including a lutz and a toe
loop, in Hamilton. And I just like the music... it's a great way to
start off the individual number part of the show...
Josee - Can't Fight the Moonlight (LeAnn Rimes) - she's got a
pretty teal? aqua? colored top and skirt on for this one... I didn't
think much of the music, to be honest, but Josee's just so pretty,
charming and..sparkling that she really carries it off. Had a few
mistakes in Hamilton, so she had to retake them, but overall it was a
Scott - Double Bogey Blues - the one disconcerting thing about
seeing this for the fourth and fifth time is that I've realized that
Scott's "spontaneous" reaction to all the cheering at the end of the
program is the same every time, so it starts looking scripted (the
jumping up in the air and clicking the feet together thing, etc). But
it's just a fun, cute Scott number, and he gets a ton of laughs for
it... no standing ovation though...I don't think for either night...
Renee and Gorsha - Everything Must Change - I've said this in every
single review (and wow, there have been a lot of those this year, eh?)
but this is just such an exceptional number... these two put such
passion and feeling into their skating, and have such ...cool... lifts
and holds ... I've never seen a mistake in this program that I can
remember... just beautiful, beautiful skating...
Brian - Against All Odds - you know, I like this song, but somehow
this instrumental version sounded too Kenny-Gish and bland to make for
an interesting skating program. Brian did his usual good job to it,
skating really well but it just didn't perk my interest. Maybe it
suffered from coming after Renee and Gorsha's program =).
Shae and Vic - Big Spender - boy do you Canadians love these two! Huge
applause when the audience realized who they were, big standing ovation
afterwards (I think)... this is just fast, frenetic, furious
skating..lots of footwork, some cute changes in mood..what is up with
his hair?? I normally don't comment on things like this, but it's long
and greased down and just makes him look...geeky... I liked it better
the way it was before. But I desist.. this was a really fun number, and
Shae really knows how to project sex appeal to the crowd.
Kurt - Bring Him Home - time for true confessions. When I first
saw Kurt's exhibition to this from 10 years ago, I really didn't like
it. I love Les Miz (seen it 4 times, have copies of 5 of the
soundtracks) and I think I just have a very specific picture in my
mind of what it should look like, and Kurt miming hopscotch to "he is
young, he is only a boy" was definitely not it... but this
version... seen live... just...wow... it was just purely beautiful,
pure skating... I'm under the personal opinion that Kurt does best
with the jumps when they're not the point, but just flow from the
choreography... Don't Fence Me In doesn't have that flowy feel - I
like it, but it's different. For Bring Him Home, the point was the
beautiful music, the line, the flow, the choreography, and those jumps
(triple sal, triple toe, ...I don't know what a loop looks like so I
don't know if he did one... double axels) just came out of nowhere,
up, tight rotations, down... and not a problem on them. This program
was just gorgeous. I think I should stop b/c I'm just raving now =).
Tunnel Vision - ok, the fifth time around some of the jokes finally
didn't make me laugh out loud, but I still just love this. The peeks
into their personalities (whether scripted or not) are just so much
fun... and you've got to love Steven Cousins - "just look at that little
bugger run!" and nothing beats watching Scott and Denis do their Shaft
and Mini-Me bit =). Nothing new in the frozen bits... unless.. maybe
Scott didn't do the "kung fu fighting" bit in the US? Introductions to the
Vic is the tour genius, speaks 6 (?) languages, can explain the theory
of relativity, but has trouble with the choreographer's count of eight.
[Scott] Hey Vic - 5, 6, 7...
[Scott] yeah! you got it!
Shae is gorgeous, sexy, and will kick your butt on the soccer field.
Jenni and Todd..so in love..so devoted...and then watch out! notice the
Steven - Chuffy (he seems to be the only one left with a nickname in
this tour), budding movie star, morale officer, etc
Renee - Renee Rocacabana (Gorsha does a little hands spinning around
each other- wow this is hard to explain, I can picture it =) ). no one
knows what she's up to b/c she doesn't tell anyone.
Gorsha - everyone knows what he's up to b/c he's the ladies
man... (Gorsha is preening and posing, running his hand through his
hair, and then reaches one arm out over Josee who shies away while Scott
puts Gorsha's arm back where it belongs).
Josee - aw..Josee... (he's turning back and forth to look at her, and
then the crowd)... I just lose it around her..gotta get myself back
together..but look at her, she's so cute! (in Toronto he said, she's
married! must resist!).
Brian is Daddy b/c he's been on the tour for almost as long as I
Maria - is always on the phone...
[Maria] Are you talking to me?
[Scott, mimicking her heavy Russian accent] No, I'm not talking to you.
I'm talking to them, I'm telling them about us...speaking of which,
(Kurt skates out from the tunnel while he's doing this - I think he's
supposed to sneak out but both nights, he was spotted too early and
everyone started cheering - in Hamilton he does a shhh motion, like,
shhh I'm sneaking up on him)
[Kurt] Sorry I'm late! I just..I just couldn't get here on time
(I think in Toronto he was more contrite, in Hamilton he was just
like... hee hee I snuck out late)
[Scott] That's ok, I was just telling them about our dysfunctional
family (Kurt's walking past Scott, waving at the other skaters... turns
towards Scott and grabs him by the shoulders)
[Kurt] Dysfunctional! Oh no, you shouldn't have said that! I have to
clear my karma! (and does an elaborate karma-clearing dance - very
hysterical, where he clears it from his entire body, legs and arms
included, before he bundles it up and drop kicks it from the arena)
I think Vic says this..."what's he doing?"
Clearing his karma
[Vic] Why's he doing that?
[Renee] Supposed to be for luck, sending the bad luck away (or something
[Vic] Where's it go? (everyone looks around and under the chairs)
[Renee] (in Toronto) I dunno... Ottawa?
(in Hamilton) I dunno... Buffalo?
(Kurt finishes clearing his karma, goes over to his chair, sits down in
a position of meditation - eyes closed, hands out with his index finger
and thumb together)
Yikes, this is getting long..summing up...
throughout the rest of this, Kurt keeps doing his karma clearing
thing... in Toronto he goes nuts with the Brickhouse thing, and when he
goes over to Scott, he goes "sorry! I saw Wendy!" (I think Wendy Kane,
tour director for CSOI).
When Gorsha starts his skate down the side and eyeing the women in the
audience, he winked at me as he went by =). I think the big grin on my
ummm...drawing a blank now and it's late... moving on...
Chairmen - so so cool. need I say more? =) I think Denis fits in
really well but I'm not sure b/c I spent most of my time watching Kurt.
Got a nice close look at Kurt's Besti squat/spread eagle thing/change
edge on the chair, and that was really neat.
Maria - Dance With Me - not sure why Tara, Maria, and Surya all skated
to this song this year... I happened to catch Surya on COI when I
flipped by and decided that this music only lends itself to one type of
choreography, so they all look kind of similar. Of these, though, I
definitely like Tara's best... Maria's got a sexier look going, but she
looks so somber, except for the occasional smile, and she just doesn't
get into it like Tara does... couple falls and bobbles here, had to do
retakes in Hamilton.
Alexei - Gladiator - this is one dramatic program! the lighting
was really cool, especially in the beginning, and the choreography is
very ... well, dramatic! he does this really really well, and of
course, those jumps are just fast, tight, and high... really cool to
see. I think I like this program, though it just didn't give me the
right feel for an SOI program.. I know that the point of SOI is
entertainment and they do it in many different ways so there really
can't be one set style, but somehow it didn't feel entertaining enough
for a regular program, and didn't feel different enough (like Rockit
or Nyah or Desert Rose) either... a bit too much like a really well
done eligible program. Somehow in Toronto he did this program in one
direction (does his roll on the ice facing the left side of the ice
(left if you're facing the tunnel) but in Hamilton he did it the other
way... don't think he even realized he did it because he was confused
when Sandra pointed it out during retakes. I'm not sure how they're
going to edit it together because when he did the retakes he did it in
the same direction as in Toronto, but didn't reshoot everything.
Kurt - Don't Fence Me In - the song has been cut! The four double
axels at the end are completely missing. I understand this, since
he's doing so much in the show and landing three double axels in one
segment of Bring Him Home alone... but it's really weird to have him
suddenly rope someone in ...the music edit is done really well, I
never notice the cut until it suddenly is at the end, but..weird.
Anyway, Josee comes out on the ice with him for this one and stands at
the end of the ice... Kurt puts the hat on her and skates to her
several times (once smack in front of me - he does the whole one-armed
pushup thing directed towards her). In Toronto he did a beautifully
high double axel - in Hamilton he went for the triple and landed it
first try in retakes! (he did a double the first time in retakes and
then went for the triple and landed it). also did a triple-double in
Hamilton but then went and did a triple-triple during retakes after
they cut the music - hopefully they can edit that in as well.
Kurt and Josee - Let 'er Rip - this is really really cute... Josee
goes into the curtains at the end of DFMI and Kurt does the whole
putting on the bandana and going into the tunnel and pulling her out
tied at the end of the rope... but instead of letting go of the rope,
they keep it and the whole program is them skating while wrapping each
other up in the rope or pulling each other at the end... there's a
really cool part where Josee's got the rope around her waist and
Kurt's got both ends and he's basically pulling her around in a spread
eagle really fast.... she pulls him along a few times too... towards
the end they're each holding on to one end of the rope and first she
turns in and jumps rope (they're swinging it around) and then he turns
in and jumps rope and then while they're still turning it, they both
turn in and jump it together.. I don't know how they do it, but it's
really cool. This was just a really fun, upbeat cute number..those
two have a great dynamic together!
Sin Wagon - no different than the States, just a fun,
country-dancing continuation of the cowboy theme... still think those
costumes are garishly colored though! Josee fits right in with them
in her little red cowgirl outfit...
Jenni and Todd - I Can't Make You Love Me - still the worst
transition in the show, but they managed to almost make me forget it
by the middle... beautifully skated, just a pretty pretty program.
Brian Orser - Sir Duke - fun, upbeat, a bit more laid back than
Kurt and Josee's number, of course, but still very entertaining...
Shae and Vic - L'Histoire D'Amour - it's a slower song but they
were still doing fast footwork to it... kind of odd...but it
worked... I think I liked Big Spender better but this was entertaining
Kurt - Nyah - Wow. In Toronto, it was already amazing. In
Hamilton... crisp, precise, utterly controlled, utterly intense... you
guys have heard me rave about this program enough. Suffice it to
say... it was incredible... I'm totally in awe of this one. (I
probably looked really stupid in Hamilton - I was leaning forward in
my seat with my chin on my hand watching this =))
Scott- My Way - I can't believe this is (possibly) the last time
I'll see Scott skate.. from what he's said I might get a chance in the
future, but you never know... he was totally into it in Hamilton (and
Toronto, but especially Hamilton) and the crowd was totally into
him... just a fun, appropriate ending number for Scott.
Finale - the If It's Magic part is now done by the ice dancers -
first Shae and Renee and then they're joined by Vic and Gorsha... it's
really beautiful... and they take some time skating with Scott at the
beginning of Always (love this song) before the next group of people
come out... instead of everyone coming in a group for this first part,
they do a few at a time, so Brian comes out before Kurt... I think
this gives Kurt more time to change =). Then the rest of it is pretty
much the same as the States... I really really like this song and the
choreography, I hope they show it when they air it on CBC (looked at
the case of one of the guys walking by and it said CBC on it...no
cameras in Toronto, btw, except two small ones which were probably for
Handshakes in Hamilton - Gorsha came to our section and I was sort
of watching him, sort of watching Kurt down at the end... when Gorsha
got to me, he winked at me again =)... I'm feeling special b/c I was
watching him and I know he didn't wink at anyone else ;).
Retakes - there were a few... Kurt started out with the mic and
said something about how in previous years the taping was in Toronto
but the crowd is better in Hamilton than anywhere in the whole tour,
so they pushed and finally got the taping moved there... Scott goes
"he says that in every city! just kidding"... then Kurt starts
telling people to go change when he suddenly realizes he also has to
... so he asks scott to take over mic duties, reminding him who to
thank, so Scott goes out in the middle of the ice and goes something
like "Ladies and gentlemen, I strongly encourage each of you to go out
and buy a Chrysler. Log onto AOL Canada and find yourself a new car"
and goes on, dropping a few other sponsor names in as well. After
Scott leaves the ice for the first retake, there's no more
introduction by anyone with the mic (he says he's not retaking
anything, despite one double lutz where he wanted a triple b/c it's
such a special night, he doesn't want to change a thing). however,
Alexei was very funny, body language, etc.. at one point menacing the
audience with his knives. he also loves milking the applause... and
when Kurt went to do his retakes, they had to change the tape so he
was goofing off for quite a while...the crowd was eating it up. Kurt
doesn't need a mic, he can be heard quite well in the lower part of
the arena, at least =).
And that was it for Hamilton! Great shows, both nights... I hope
they do the taping again in Hamilton, b/c the crowd was simply