Stars on Ice
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Burt Bacharach Tribute on Ice 2003 Review

HP Pavilion at San Jose, San Jose, CA, Sep. 20, 2003

written by Tina

Just got back from the Burt Bacharach Tribute on Ice show, and it was a lot of fun! Burt Bacharach is quite a funny guy (he definitely seems to think so, or he was really tired and giddy, but he couldn't stop laughing at himself half the time when he was talking) and the audience was very enthusiastic. Show was well put-together as well, with lots of group numbers, smooth transitions between numbers, medleys, and great skaters. I rather enjoyed the live band as well - I didn't really watch them, so it didn't distract from the skating, and the sound was great. Burt made for an entertaining emcee between songs as well, giving us some background on some of the songs, and easing the transitions between sections of the show.

My one complaint - I had 3rd row center ice seats. Sounds good, right? Turns out we were right by the camera, which blocked a good 1/3 of the ice much of the time, which was extremely frustrating. I think I missed a lot of jumps, interesting choreography, and death drops over there. In the second act, we moved up to 6th row seats, which allowed us to see over the camera - much, much better. Have the urge to complain about them selling us obstructed view seating at full price.

An observation on the audience - the lower bowl was pretty much filled up, and a lot of the upper bowl was also sold out. The impression I got rather strongly, though, was that the majority of the audience were Bacharach fans rather than skating fans, and were there primarily to see him perform, hear his songs, and maybe to watch a little skating while they were at it. Lots of "We love you Burt!" "we love you Michael!" (to Michael McDonald), and screams for "Dionne!" when Burt revealed that Dionne Warwick was in the audience. When they thought they were wrapping up the retakes, the audience was screaming stuff like "encore!" and "Dionne!" Lots of singing along, and quite a few rather funny audience members who were happily clapping along and waving at the stage and the performers all night long. Which is not to say they didn't appreciate the skating. In a way, the crowd seemed even more enthusiastic than a knowledgeable crowd would be, very easily impressed by the jumps, lifts, spins, and dismounts (I heard a bigger reaction to M&S's dismount where he swings her around upside down than I have in a very long time - gasps and cheers), cheering loudly and often. At the end, M&S were having some trouble with their throw jump retake, and the audience built up a tremendous amount of cheering to support her through her attempts.

I enjoyed the skating a lot, but I couldn't help but notice that a lot of the skaters - M&S and R&S in particular - seemed to be reusing a lot of moves and even whole segments of choreography from their programs last year, set to new music. I probably noticed this the most b/c I just rewatched some SOI last night. But the opening to one of M&S's programs was almost exactly that of "I'm Your Man" and R&S had a lot of "The Prayer"'s moves in there. That was a bit disconcerting, but don't take it as a criticism of the programs themselves - the choreography integrated very well into the music and if you'd never seen the other programs, you couldn't tell that it wasn't fresh choreography.

I was jotting down notes all through the program - just music notes, nothing else - so if I can decipher my handwriting, here's what I was able to tell of the music listings (the song titles may not be right, most of the time I was just grabbing distinctive pieces of lyrics).

The show opened with "Do You Know the Way to San Jose" (of course). The skaters came out about four at a time - first Boitano, Renee, and Gorsha came sauntering out on stage, stepped off, and skated around, to be joined by Orser (both Brian's were there, hence the use of the last names) standing at the other end of the ice. As they skated back, they picked up another four (I *think* Ilia, Caryn, Yuka and Jason) and then eventually picked up the rest of the cast (M&S, Nicole - these last two groups may be mixed up). Ilia was frequently paired with Caryn in group numbers, while Nicole tended to be paired (as I recall) with Brian O. Brian B. was definitely the headliner, though, and tended to get spotlighted individual roles in the larger group numbers.

When the song closed, Burt took the mike and asked us, of course"Do you know the way..." and waited for the audience to fill in "San Jose!" Some introductions, etc...Roz came out and did a little introduction - we never saw her again through the night but periodically her voice did make itself known (announcing intermission, for instance).

Then came a nice medley of Bacharach songs, with each skater skating to their own song, and eventually having more and more skaters come out so that there was a nice little group thing going on. The songs and skaters, from what I could tell of them (I could be so wrong on these song titles, I know some Bacharach music but hardly all):
Yuka Sato - Don't Make Me Over
Caryn Cadavy - Walk on By
Ilia - This Guy's in Love With You
Sato & Dungjen - Say a Little Prayer for You
Yuka & Caryn - Wishing and Hoping
Ilia, Jason, Yuka, Caryn - Always Something There to Remind Me

Then Nicole skated to Close to You. I think the costume she wore may have been the one from Imagine - I'll have to take a closer look at the photos to be sure. This was a pretty program, skated with a great deal of assurance. Nicole landed her jumps solidly and confidently, did her Biellman spin (didn't get the leg quite as high as she used to), and the low edgy move she does where she's in a kind of shoot-the-duck/hydroblading position, holding on to one extended skate, and going around in tight circles on the ice.

Burt then went on to talk about motion pictures, doing the scores for motion pictures, even appearing in some (like Austin Powers - as he said, there's nothing more fun than being on set with Mike Myers). The next segment was therefore to a short sampling of his songs written for motion pictures. These went by a bit faster so I didn't have time to write them down (I was also taking as many photos as I could - it's not easy juggling a notepad and a camera). The skaters in this section were Meno & Sand and Brian Orser, though.

Burt introduced the band at this point.

Then Roca & Sur skated to That's What Friends are For. I believe this is the program that felt a great deal like a mishmash of elements from previous programs, particularly last year's"The Prayer." They did the move where Gorsha stands at the end, Renee comes running up and he catches her around the thighs as she reaches up to the ceiling, the lift where her foot is between her thighs and she arches backwards, a lot of lifts where she hangs on his back in various positions, and that spin/lift which never fails to catch the audience's breath where she's draped over one of his arms, and he holds her out as he spins around. The program was nicely done (except for one slightly messy set of lifts which I think they were going to retake but didn't), beautifully executed and nice to watch.

Burt talked about writing a bunch of new songs for Elvis Costello about 3-4 years ago, and introduced the next song as the first the two of them ever wrote together - "God Give Me Strength." This was skated to by Caryn, Yuka, and Jenni, doing a lot of identical moves, side by side moving down the ice, like double axels, spins, etc. The opening was actually kind of neat - each girl came out one by one, started to do a different spin, and then wound up the spin just as the next girl started her spin. The double axels were actually done two in a row, up and down the ice. Lots of pretty glidy moves. They were eventually joined by Brian Boitano, interacting, then standing at the side and watching him skate. Brian's skate was, as I recall, full of long sweeping edges and fairly dramatic skating.

Then Burt introduced James Ingram, who said that the song he was going to sing was best performed by Luther Vandross. It ended up being "A House is Not a Home", skated to by Ilia. This was a great, dramatic program for Ilia, filled with interesting choreography, nice spins, good footwork, and great execution. Ilia moves *a lot* while he's skating, never stopping, constantly turning, and getting great ice coverage, which is wonderful from a skating perspective but unfortunately took him behind the TV camera all too often for me (also made it hard to get good photos of him). From the audience oohs and ahhs, Ilia landed several beautiful jumps solidly, including *possibly* a 3-axel (I didn't see it but the set-up, the reaction, and my friend's impression of his head over the top of the camera and how long he spent in the air suggest a triple). He also landed a nice death drop, either in this program or in the intro medley (don't quite remember which). Very cleanly done, great program. It was nice to see Ilia again and I can't wait to see this one on TV so I can see what I missed!


The second act opened with a brief version of "What the World Needs Now" by the band.

Burt then introduced the next song as one he wrote with Hal David. He said they were going to just play an instrumental version of it because the lyrics were not at all PC (earned a big laugh from the audience for this). The song was "Wives & Lovers," and was skated to by Meno & Sand. This number was quite cute, varying in mood from time to time, starting off relatively introspective, and later speeding up and becoming more humorous. At one transition, Burt broke into an upbeat piano riff, which Todd mimed on the ice. This was the program that opened with a series of moves that were a great deal like "I'm Your Man", and in some ways there were similar themes running through at times of Todd trying to win over Jenni. This was mixed with more loving poses, hands coming together and apart, him holding her as they spun or skated or after a lift. This mix of themes I'm pretty sure had to do with the wives vs the lovers =). A nice program from M&S all around.

Then came Caryn Kadavy skating to "Anyone Who Had a Heart". Caryn's a very pretty skater, and she captured the feel of the music quite nicely in her choreography and execution. I seem to remember her doing one of those bent hip spreadeagles, the spin that Oksana Baiul used to do where she pulls her foot towards her head, keeping her body perpendicular to the ice (bad description, I know), nice layback spins, and several nice jumps (except one that she bobbled and landed forward, which she retook later).

Then Burt introduced the next song as one of the first he songs he ever wrote, a song that we might find hard to believe he wrote b/c it doesn't sound like something he'd do. He even finds it hard to believe he wrote it. The song turned out to be "The Blob", a funny, quirky, fast song that Brian Orser skated to in dorky glasses, a dorky sweater, and hilarious body language. Brian first came stepping out on the stage, walking in a dorky, cautious manner, before stepping off the stage into some funny flailing and generally funny, dorky behavior. A very cute number that had Burt in stitches at the end. Also a very very short program - maybe 30 seconds in length.

It was at this point that Burt made us aware that Dionne Warwick was in the audience, earning her a huge cheer and either a standing ovation or tons of people standing up and craning to see her. Couldn't tell which =). The next batch of songs they were performing were ones that Dionne had originally sung.

Nicole Bobek skated to "No one cries"(?? - this isn't right, but I can't remember what the song sounds like anymore)
R&S skated to You'll Never Get to Heaven (If You Break My Heart) (I think)
all three then skated to I'll Never Fall In Love Again.
Then Brian O came out to skate with Nicole (didn't get the song but this was cute), and eventually Nicole left and Brian skated alone (again, didn't get the song, sorry). Nicole and Brian's interplay was very cute, a little of him chasing after her, a little of her playing with him, the two of them at one point taking turns holding on to the other's waist while slightly bent over, and pulling the other back, taking their turn in the lead, only to be displaced again (bad description - it was cute). Lots of cute personality on display in their duet, and the two of them seemed to have a great time.

Then Michael McDonald was introduced. He ended up singing two songs, transitioning from one to the other, with the first, "Make It Easy On Yourself" skated to by Sato & Dungjen, and the second "On My Own" skated to by Meno & Sand. Sato & Dungjen are beautiful skating together - Jason seems to match Yuka's soft edges and whisper-soft blades quite well, and the two of them have a nice subdued chemistry on the ice. This may have been the program where they went into a lift but she never seemed to get solidly up there, causing some kind of scary bobbles and an incomplete finish to the lift - they didn't retake it though, so I'm guessing there will be a cut to the band in the TV broadcast at this point. Their costumes may have been the ones from "Ribbon in the Sky" - at least in coloring. Meno & Sand wore black costumes that could have been from either a SOI group number or their Santana number a few years back (did they have black costumes for that one?).

The next song Burt said had the best lyrics Hal David ever wrote, possibly among the best lyrics ever - "Alfie", which Brian B. skated to. He said that he was honored to be performing it for "the man" (gesturing to Brian). My favorite part of this program was this nice series of spreadeagles that Brian did down the ice - curving around on an edge, but then straightening out to a flat spread eagle down the boards, then curving around, back onto flats across the ice, then curving again to end up on flats down the opposite boards, and then maybe? swooping around to a nice edgy spread eagle. He also later did one of his really long spread eagles that went around and around. The guy has amazing edge control and just beautiful spread eagles. The program was a nice, dramatic, poignant one and a great way to close the show.

The show was closed with"What the World Needs Now" and the entire cast, once again coming out in groups (I think Ilia, Brian O, Caryn, and..Nicole?? in the first group) and closing by standing in an outward facing circle with closely interlocking arms.

The retakes were pretty fun, mainly b/c of Burt, who never seemed quite aware of how many more needed to be done, and kept trying to play a song for the audience to sing along with to close things. The director or his assistant, or whoever that was had to keep running out to interrupt him and let him know they needed to shoot more. Burt also insisted on a retake of the band for one of the songs. The first retake was for Yuka to skate Don't Make Me Over - she nailed her jump retake (forget what it was) on the first try.

Then as they were setting up, Burt insisted on retaking the second act opener"What the world needs now", and after retaking it once, wanted to do it again...the lady ran out to let him know they didn't need it, but after the audience went "awww", Burt insisted on playing it again anyway.

Burt talked to the audience some more, cracking himself completely up, unable to talk at some points because he can't stop laughing. At one point, as he's practically collapsed across the piano laughing, he says"It's been a long day!" Then he talked about what a thrill it was to watch the skaters out there skating to his music, how he didn't get the sense of how it'd be in rehearsal ("no one really tried in rehearsal but they let it all out there tonight!") but how great it was tonight.

Then he had to do a retake of the band introductions because he messed up the other one. Burt doesn't seem to realize that they need to do more retakes (possibly b/c he asked for the director's microphone to be taken off their monitor b/c it was messing up the band) and starts to try to arrange another song, and is interrupted as he stars the piano intro by that lady again. Burt was like "you messed up my intro!!" and then teased that she wanted to sing but they weren't going to let her because she couldn't sing. Turns out they had to do a whole crop of retakes. Caryn had to do one for "All anyone ever needs is a heart." Then Meno & Sand came out for "Wives and Lovers" and ended up having to retry the throw jump 3 times in a row. After the 2nd time, Burt said something to the effect that they (the band) are ok, they'll play all night until they get it right. The crowd got very supportive, cheering tremendously for Jenni everytime they tried the jump, and letting out a huge cheer when she landed it successfully. After their bows, Todd very cutely patted Jenni on the head, who looked abashed and cuddled up to him =).

There is a lot of confusion at this point. Roca & Sur come out on the ice, but then duck back in again as Burt says that he needs to redo the intro for James Ingram - apparently there was a stagehand there the first time around who was "trying to steal James' spotlight." He does the intro, James comes walking out, shakes hands with Burt, steps behind the microphone...then he and Burt look at each other, shrug, and then James comes back around to the audience's laughter and proceeds to do a little dance before strolling back offstage. Burt says he's pretty sure there's nothing left to do, they're done, so he leads the crowd in a rousing rendition of"Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head", and then basically says thank you, that he loves San Jose (something about the crowds being great, he was up here watching a Sharks game with his son and he'd never heard so much noise in his life),and good night. Burt walks off the stage, the lights come up...and I'm left wondering, why the heck did Roca & Sur come out? Did they have more retakes to do and just gave up on them after a while b/c Burt kept insisting they were done? (not in a demanding way, like he honestly thought they were) Oh well. It's a show with a live band, any mistakes they failed to retake can probably be covered by cuts to the band.

I think what I really liked about this show was the prevalence of group numbers, or tied together numbers. I think Burt Bacharach was the musical coordinator and he did a nice job of seamlessly blending and transitioning the music so that the programs flowed from one to another. The choreography was also wonderful in how it seamlessly added one skater, then another, to the action on the ice, then transitioned skaters out without ever breaking the flow.

Overall, the show came in under 2 hours, so it *seems* like they should be able to fit it all in the TV broadcast (Dec. 20, 2003 on NBC from 1-3PM PST/4-6PM EST) with no problem. I really enjoyed it. Lea Ann Miller & David Liu did a great job with the choreography and Burt Bacharach and his band/singers were very entertaining. Great show!

I'm going to try to get the photos from this show up in the next couple days. Sorry that the retake part of the review was longer than the show review, but I figure you all will see the show on TV in December, whereas retakes were only seen by the people who were there live.