Skating Away

Last night Julie and I had one of our rarer-than-I’d-like nights out, and went to dinner and a show.

Due to time constraints dinner was just burgers at Fuddruckers — we’d planned to do something classier, but things at the Bureau ran late and the show started at 7:00, so we made do.

The show was at the Verizon Center, and was “Kaleidoscope: Skating, Song, and Survivorship,” a cancer benefit put together by Scott Hamilton and friends. At least in theory it’s going to be a TV event, shown on Fox on Thanksgiving Day after the football game, though I didn’t see it on the schedule here. The main sponsor was Sanofi-Aventis, and there were ten cancer support organizations involved, but we mostly went because hey, it was a good show.

Our seats were nine rows back, near the stage end of the ice. Very good view.

They featured three famous cancer survivors: Hamilton, Dorothy Hamill, and Olivia Newton-John. This was Hamilton’s first skating performance in six years, but he was still good, and still did his trademark flips.

Really, everyone was good.

Newton-John only sang one song, and that was backed up with a children’s chorus (flown in from Santa Barbara), but it was nice. The other two singers on the program were Katherine McPhee and David Archuleta, who both have new albums coming out that they want to publicize, but Archuleta’s is a Christmas album, so his three songs were all traditional stuff, not his own compositions.

Archuleta has an absolutely beautiful voice; I hadn’t realized, watching him on TV, just how beautiful, as our TV’s speakers aren’t good enough to do it justice. He also looked genuinely happy to be there, and connected with the crowd more than McPhee or Newton-John; he’s very endearing in person.

As for the skating, Hamill doesn’t do a lot of jumping or other really difficult stuff these days, since she hasn’t competed in years, but she’s still performing, and still very good at it. She looked like she was having fun.

Nancy Kerrigan did a couple of performances, and while she hasn’t competed in years either, she did include difficult jumps — one of which she missed, but after the show they did a re-take for TV, so you won’t get to see her fall; the audience was invited to hang around to provide background, which we did.

Ashley Wagner and Rachael Flatt represented the younger generation of skaters, and gave splendid performances.

Ice dancers Charlie White and Meryl Davis were beautiful. Davis is a tiny little thing, and beautiful quite aside from her skating, but on the ice they’re stunning.

Johnny Weir was supposed to skate, but cancelled at the last minute, we don’t know why, and was replaced by Viktor Petrenko, who did two numbers, both of which were very slick and lots of fun — a cowboy number and a mambo. The guy’s a great showman.

I’m probably forgetting someone; it was quite a show.

Oh, David Foster (fifteen-time Grammy winner — as a producer, if you’re wondering why you don’t know the name) was the host, and played piano for a couple of the songs.

Because it was being done as a TV show there were several delays while technical stuff got squared away, and some of the introductions got repeated — in one case a skater was introduced, did her stuff, and then got announced again when they realized the first take wasn’t good. She did not skate again, though. The audience was also asked for random applause every so often, to be plugged in after pre-recorded stuff we didn’t see, and we obliged — the crowd was very enthusiastic. Not as big as we expected, actually, but loud.

All in all, we were there from 7:00 until 10:30 for a show that I believe will be ninety minutes on TV. (I don’t think the actual skating began until 8:00, but stuff was going on before that.)

It was fun.

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