OK.....here's MY review of the Discover Card's Stars On Ice presented by Smuckers performance January 23 at Reunion Arena in Dallas. I was asked if there would be a site for this, so here it is! This is a modified version from the one I had published in The Garland (Texas) News LOCAL section of its January 31 edition.
I got to Reunion Arena around 5:30 p.m. after spending five hours just taking in the sites around downtown Dallas. Having read about the show from reading the self-titled book, I was looking forward to this first-ever attendance (my fifth-ever attendance of an ice show).....AND I WASN'T DISAPPOINTED!
After paying for parking, I saw a sign on the door that said NO SIGN ALLOWED or something to that effect....so I smuggled mine inside the arena under my Denver Broncos jacket I received as a Christmas present from my parents. Wound up staying outside for at least 30-40 minutes before the front doors were unlocked.....by then there was a big crowd outside looking forward to the show.
After securing down a program and a couple of merchandise items from the vendors (and a bottle of water in case I got thirsty), found my way to the locale of my viewing......front row of the upper deck with a CLEAR VIEW of the ice rink below. Chatted for a while with a few other people there and mentioned about one skater I was really there to see......ROZ!
Before the actual start of the show, a hat was placed in the middle of the rink....and Steven Cousins, dressed as a maintenance worker, came out to "clean up the place." He noticed the hat, and everytime he lifted it off the ice, the disclaimer man would start talking.....reminding people about NO flash photography allowed at all (and a few used flash photography during the show!!!!!) and also thanked the audience for attending this performance.
From the opening number "Rock This Town" (music by Brian Setzer Orchestra), Reunion Arena started rocking.....I MEAN REALLY ROCKING!!!!! As the music was playing, the skaters were introduced: Cousins, Renee Roca and Gorsha Sur, Jenni Meno and Todd Sand, Lu (Lulu) Chen, Elena Bechke and Denis Petrov, Ilia Kulik (missing from the opening number), Katia Gordeeva (who drew the most applause up to this point), and Rosalynn Sumners, MY FAVORITE, NO DOUBT!
Near the end of the number, out came Kristi Yamaguchi (my first time seeing her perform live) and Scott Hamilton (impressive with his backflips!!!!). After welcoming the crowd to the show, he proceeded to introduce Kulik....who came out and did his opening set to "Jumpin' Jack" and showed flashes of brillance!!! Just a lot of energy that the crowd fed off it rather easily.
After a short program by Kristi and Scott to "Sleepwalking," Kristi told Scott someone else was MISSING.......and IT WAS TARA!!!! And out she came to "Jump, Jive An' Wail" with a lot of moves and a lot of energy. She was really perky in doing her number....and the audience loved it!
Cousins came out to "clean up" the place again, but was pushed aside in a muse by Roz and Lulu....and their synch skating went off without a hitch.
What came off with a hitch early was Katia's "Fragile," wonderfully choreographed, but Katia mistimed her double Axel and fell to the ice. But she bounced back up as if nothing happened....and skated a clean program the rest of the way. I had questioned about her decision of being a solo act rahter than finding another partner, but she and Sergei Grincov had a special relationship....so I stopped questioning this scenerio entirely!
As if being nerdy was cool, Scott did show it from his glasses to the flat-looking outfit while skating to Barenaked Ladies' "One Week" and hit his jumps WITH AUTHORITY, WITHOUT ANY AUTHORITY, BY THE AUTHORITY INVESTED IN ME,.....er, uh, you know what I mean!!!! Toss in a backflip and he was at his finest with showmanship and class rolled up into one.
Tara thinks she's all grown up.....but not quite yet. Her routine to "My Fair Lady" was clean until she tried a difficult move she had success with in the 1998 Winter Olympics. This time she fell.....but got up and continued with no extra problems. Her dress, glittering along the way, was OK, but is she growing up TOO fast?
Cousins, minding his own business, attempted to clean up the area again.....and was halted in the process by B&P.....allowing enough time for Kristi to slip into her red dress and skate to "Violin Concerto." Along the way, she showed me why she won gold in the '92 Winter Games.....power and finese in the package. This number was clean all the way, and she has indeed matured in this sport as a solo skater.
Ilia returned with a footwork-paced routine to "Seisouso" and showed both the powerful moves and rapport with the crowd. Not much else I can add to this, except that with maturity Ilia will be in the same group of great male skaters with Scott, Paul Wylie and Dick Button, to name a few.
Put together by two-time medalists Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean, "Nosing Around" was set to four jazz tunes and surrounded a group of clowns with Tara a clown wannabe. During this routine, she and Scott did a mime/mirrow image reminescent of what Lucille Ball and Harpo Marx did in an "I Love Lucy" episode back in the 1950s. WHAT FUN THAT WAS!!!! Two ther funny parts to this routine: Roz teasing with Cousins and actually pulling off his pants (revealing Valentine-designed boxer shorts!!!!!!) and.....COUSIN'S REVENGE: chasing all the skaters off the ice with a "Zamaguchi" machine...ending the routine and ACT I.
Following a 20-minute breather by all involved, ACT II began with a muse by the following skaters: Katia, Kristi, Tara, Ilia, Lulu, and R&S wearing white outfits that glowed purple in the special lighting. All moved as if they were in synch....and made it look easy when it really wasn't.
Cousins came back out, this time as a solo number to "Invisible"...and he showed why he turned pro after a successful amateur career. He kept the audience from going to sleep with his own brand of moves.....and was, need I dare say, EN FUGUE! DAN PATRICK, EAT YOUR HEART OUT!
That was followed by an emotional performance from Roz. In this her 13th (and final) year with Stars On Ice, she gave her own tribute to the tour with "[Here We Are] After All These Years"....and I was absolutely spellbound by her presentation. Roz' expressiveness in this routine was all that was needed AND SHE WAS GIVEN A STANDING OVATION BY THE AUDIENCE, INCLUDING YOURS TRULY! I will miss her after this year's tour is over.
I really didn't take good notes on the next presentation, "Eva" by B&P, but it was just as good a presentation as was Roz'. Found out later that B&P is also on their final go-around with the tour...and they will also be missed.
R&S, Lulu (in a hot, sexy outfit) and M&S floowed with individual performances set to the music of Carlos Santana. Each had energy and passion with the presentation....and Lulu's "Black Magic Woman" made me think that she can do the sexy number just as well as Roz has "after all these years." (No pun intended!)
Cousins tried again to do "clean-up duty" and managed to succeed before Katia, Ilia and B&P came out to the Four Corners setting for "Tell Me Everything". This segment showed me that Katia had as much fun skating with Ilia as she is doing it solo.....but I wouldn't read anything into this. Trust me that she is happy as a solo skater, period!
Another short muse by Cousins allowed Kristi time to get herself together for this self-expressive performance to a Japanese poem from "The Ink Dark Moon." Just like Roz, Kristi skated another clean pro performance and also showed her physical power with her jumps.
Ilia's "Noise" was just as noisy to do....and the crowd went along with hearing his skates on the ice. He did excellent, which isn't bad when you have Scott Hamitlon along in the cast as a mentor to strive for the best each night. And Ilia delivered this particular evening.
Tara followed Ilia with a different program and a slightly different outfit --- dark purple with sequins -- and she did better than her "My Fair Lady" routine. Much cleaner and much stronger throughout.
In his silver vested costume, Scott came back out with the final solo of the night and did his best to "Keepin' The Customers Satisfied." Another classy performance, complete with clowning around with a fan in the front row....and another backflip to boot!!!! In a way, the co-creater of SOI satisfied this customer!
In the finale, the entire cast came back out in a group number to "Face The Face," complete in wedding white costumes....and the finale was precise as possible. It was smooth as the other side of the pillow....Stuart Scott, eat YOUR heart out!
All in all, this 2 1/2-hour performance was well worth the time and money to attend. The show was as sharp as possible and while the cast may change for next year, the show will be back in Big D.
And after viewing the show (and getting to meet Roz in a special way), all I have to say is MY NIGHT WAS MADE FROM START TO FINISH!
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So how did I meet Rosalynn Sumners after the SOI show in Dallas?
A Salute To Rosalynn Sumners - Includes how I met her after the Dallas show
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