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Stars fill the ice but fans don't fill the arena at `Skate for the Heart'

October 10, 2010 - Andy Gray
The audience at “Skate for the Heart” got a peak behind the curtain at some television magic.

The mix of top figure skaters and live musical performances was being recorded for broadcast on NBC at 4 p.m. on Jan. 16, 2011.

To help create that television production, the crowd did a little pre-show cheering for the camera and stayed after the “show” ended so Jeremy Abbott could nail a jump he took a fall on during one number and so Straight No Chaser and David Archuleta could redo their vocals on two songs each.

But the audience will have to wait until Jan. 16 to see the greatest television magic: how the director makes it look like the show played to a full house or even a mostly full one.

Even with a large section of the seats blocked off because of the staging, no more than half of the available seats were filled.

It’s hard to say why the show didn’t sell better. Certainly, the economy is a factor. The tickets weren’t cheap ($43-$98), but the prices were in line with ``Stars on Ice’’-type shows, and they don’t feature live music.

Straight No Chaser, Archuleta and Ruben Studdard added to the prestige of the show, but their fans may not have wanted to pay that price to hear their favorite only sing a few songs.

And while the show was filled with talented, entertaining skaters, none of them are Olympic Gold medal winners. Maybe that mattered to some potential customers.

That said, it’s unlikely that anyone who was at Sunday’s show left disappointed. The skating performances were incredible. Unburdened by need to woo judges and nail compulsories, the entertainer lurking in the athletes shined through.

Sasha Cohen, who always seems “icy” in competition, charmed on “Mein Herr” from “Cabaret” as she spun around with a black bowler hat, and slinked across the surface as Straight No Chaser sang “I Heard It Through the Grapevine.”

Johnny Weir’s theatricality was on full display vamping to Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” and the more dramatic “Heartbroken.”

Ryan Bradley may not be as well known as some of the other skaters, but his backflips made him a crowd pleaser as did a playful Willy Wonka routine

And the vocal retakes at the end of the night turned out to be a welcome repeat. This has to be a tough gig for a singer, because the audience’s attention naturally gravitates to the skater. It was nice to be able to focus fully on the intricate vocal harmonies of Straight No Chaser on its versions of Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours” and Coldplay’s “I Will Try to Fix You.” SNC definitely made some new fans Sunday.

It made for an entertaining evening. And I’m sure it will look like an even more entertaining – and better attended – television show.

 
 

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