Stars on Ice
Kurt in SOI
Creative Team

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 fun program.

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 skaters...
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...
[Vic] eight?
[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 red hair...
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 have.
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, where's Kurt?
(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 (checking watch).
(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 like that)
[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 face helped...
ummm...drawing a blank now and it's late... moving on...

Act II:

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 as well.

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 news).

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 amazing...