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Review: 'Stars on Ice' glides into KeyArena

"Stars on Ice," celebrating its 25th year, made a Seattle stop on Friday night with Evan Lysacek, the duo Jamie Salé and David Pelletier and even Kurt Browning, showing he's still got the moves.

Source: Seattle Times
Date: February 26, 2011
Author: Misha Berson
"Stars on Ice" is celebrating its 25th anniversary as the country's premiere skating revue this year. And the current touring show, which visited KeyArena on Friday night, reflects this special birthday with clips from previous years, remarks by producer (and former champion skater) Scott Hamilton, and a feel-good vibe from a cast made up largely of "Stars on Ice" veterans.

The show itself was a pleasant, if significantly blander outing than usual, with less of the cheesy splash or the artistic reach of many a previous "Stars on Ice." The choreography (by former skater Renée Roca) was light on pizazz, and disappointingly did not take full advantage of the outstanding skills of the talent gracing the ice.

Still, those grand skaters gave it their all, and earned a warm reception from the enthusiastic crowd at the Key.

Capping the highlights were two exceptionally exciting routines by the Canadian figure skating team of Jamie Salé and David Pelletier. The pair, who married after winning Olympic gold in 2002, announced last year that they're divorcing.

Lucky for us, they're still skating in tandem, and their duets set to The Rolling Stones' "Wild Horses" and Janet and Michael Jackson's "Scream" were stylish and spellbinding, filled with creative lifts, turns and holds — including the one where an upside-down Salé hooks her skates around Pelletier's neck, and he swings around.

Evan Lysacek, the 2010 Olympic male figure-skating champ, is a superb but somewhat stiff technical skater who is starting to loosen up into more of an entertainer. Lean and long, a brilliant jumper, he's growing more expressive in his two solo numbers, a tango and a skate to David Hernandez's "The Climb" — one of the excessive store of gushy pop ballads used this year.

For sheer showmanship you can hardly beat Kurt Browning, the ever-charming and humorously self-deprecating host of the revue. In one of the cleverest routines, "Steppin' Out," Browning gracefully tripped the light fantastic on ice a la Fred Astaire, to a song that let us in on an aging skater's innermost thoughts while performing ("Knees don't fail me now!").

At 44, Browning's knees (amazingly) did not appear to fail him. He skated with his trademark wit and flair, and even popped a couple of multiple jumps. Pushing 40 himself, Todd Eldredge has cut way back on hard moves, but he's still a crowd favorite. Three-time national champ Michael Weiss, meanwhile, remains an athletic dynamo and fearless backflipper, as demonstrated in a hard-driving solo to Queen's "Somebody to Love."The ever-lovely (and newly blond) Ekaterina Gordeeva was back again too, showing off her sexy side to the spicy "Cinema Italiano" mambo from the movie "Nine."

Among the younger set, there were appealing ensemble and individual moments for Sasha Cohen (a pixie charmer in a clowning skate-skit with red balloons), pretty and lithe Canadian bronze Olympic medal winner Joannie Rochette, and glamorous ice-dancing duo Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto (who overcame illness and injury to place fourth in last year's Olympics).