Some say the problem with a 25th anniversary tour of a traveling show is that you expect something special, and that the show will then fail to meet expectations. Stars on Ice, on the other hand, would have been better off had they ignored the year and just had the numbers. Because their idea of celebrating an anniversary involves way too much emphasis on Scott Hamilton!
Before the show, I had been wondering why there weren’t any guest performers the way there were the past two years, to take the slot after the opening number so the regulars could all change costume. It turned out that instead, we had to sit through Kurt Browning, who usually isn’t unwelcome, having a fawning conversation with a video of Scott Hamilton. Sitting there, I needed a reminder of the skaters I was there to see that made it worth it to support a tour franchise that certainly does not deserve the money it gets from me and my mother every year. Hamilton’s sure got an ego, if he still thinks the audience would enjoy such a thing after all he’s become infamous for.
Fortunately Joannie Rochette broke out the “True Colours” early. It was my first time seeing her live, and she’s a breathtaking performer. She set the trend for the evening; you waited through the flashback montages and such in order to see performances that actually were for the most part worthy of a special anniversary tour. And performers, between Ekaterina Gordeeva still having her step, and Kurt Browning doing a very amusing number which included a voiceover monologue and a live singer! If it’s the date that got them in, well, I can live with it then. Also they took a moment to bring attention to Elena Betchke sitting in the audience, which is the kind of 25th anniversary moment I can get behind.
But the true revelation of the show might have been Tanith and Ben. They’ve now had some time to settle into professional skating, and release the inner drama without having to worry about selling it to any judges, and both their numbers had a strong mood, a feeling of story, and an execution that made you feel like you couldn’t take your eyes off them, Tanith especially; I don’t know if I just failed to notice it last year or if she’s recently developed it, but live she has a high charisma. My mom was talking afterwards about how much she liked their second one, the gothic flamenco. The show knew what it had with them: Tanith also got highlighted in the group number at the end of the first half, and they even got a short routine culminating with Ben putting his voice acting skills to good use introducing Sasha Cohen’s Caberet number(one of her better numbers, definitely).
Sasha also got a chance to show off her acting skills in a clown number, with of course Kurt, and Todd Eldredge, and her balloon-related antics might have stolen that one. It also made for one of the best transitions, as she handed the balloon to an entering Katia, who gracefully let it float upward as her own second number began. Between Eldredge, hometown boy Micheal Weiss, and John Zimmerman being there and doing spectacular twists(though no throws) with Kyoko Ina, my mother was certainly very happy(they seemed to be a last-minute addition replacing Salé & Pelletier, and only did one number, though they were in the group numbers as well). Evan Lysacek was there too, of course, highlighted and heavily applauded, but am I the only one who finds it extremely amusing he’s skating to “The Climb,” as originally sung by Miley Cyrus? Though he was using a male cover version.
We gave the show a standing ovation at the end, and the skaters definitely deserved it in spades. But unfortunately it seems they aren’t throwing strawberries anymore.