Nancy Kerrigan’s Halloween on Ice made its stop in St. Catharines at the Meridian Centre this past Thursday. A fun family affair, Kerrigan’s ice show features a handful of world-class figure skaters. Collectively, the group of skaters hold three Olympic medals, eight U.S. National Championships, six World Championships, and seven other various accolades. The group includes Nancy Kerrigan, Kurt Browning, Johnny Weir, Alex Murphy, partners Caydee Denney and John Coughlin, Jozef Sabovcik, Shawn Sawyer, acrobatic and pyrotechnic pair Akop Manoukian and Aidas Reklys, Alissa Czisny, and partners Kimberly Navarro and Brent Bommentre.
Produced by StarGames, “Halloween on Ice” debuted in 1996 and has continued as one of the longest running figure skating shows, entertaining live audiences across North America. This year’s tour, hosted by two-time Olympian Nancy Kerrigan, visited 15 cities, starting in Pennsylvania and ending in Michigan, with St. Catharines being one of only two Canadian stops.
The show opened with a group performance as Kerrigan (the only identifiable skater at this point) played an old woman, who the in-house narrator told audiences was longing for her youth. We are told she has fallen asleep and we will now be joining her as she navigates through her dream, or nightmare. She awakens; transformed into a beautiful princess, as the ensemble, dressed as various monsters, try to sway her into coming over to their side.
Throughout the show, Kerrigan acted as the ‘damsel-in-distress’, wandering around the rink while the monsters performed their individual routines. Several of the performers skated the edge of rink as well, engaging with the audience members as the routines went on. At one point, while a duo of mummies were performing, one of the skaters plucked a young girl from the stands and made his way around the rink with her while she ate up all the attention she was getting from the audience.
As the story moved on and the various monsters tempted Kerrigan’s character with their ‘dark side’, a number of impressive tricks were displayed: triple axles, triple lutz’, and an astonishing number of back flips – these were easily the best tricks of the night.
Next up, audiences were finally treated to the second recognizable face of the night: Johnny Weir. He received the best reaction from the crowd as he skated out and astonished the audience with a wonderful performance. He was by far one of my favourites of the night, as he showcased why he is such a decorated figure skater. He performed in typical Johnny Weir fashion, with a great deal of attitude and enthusiasm, complete with his famously elaborate costumes and makeup, a real pleasure to see live. Naturally, his routine received the loudest applause from the audience by far.
The narrator continued to guide us through Kerrigan’s dream, as we were treated to a number of fun performances, including a mock wedding between Frankenstein and his bride. During this section of the show a number of popular songs were used, including “Shake it Off” and “Uptown Funk”, garnering a good response from the audience as they sang and clapped along.
The first act finished off with another group performance, featuring Kerrigan and Weir as the main skaters skated to the tune of “I Put a Spell on You”. After a display of impressive choreography, the routine ended as all the monsters carried Kerrigan off the ice atop a coffin, changed out of her princess dress and into a black leotard, as her character was pronounced Queen of the vampires.
The second act opened with Weir and Kerrigan as the vampire King and Queen. Both performed well together, gliding around the rink with their large capes flowing. A fun group routine followed, with the skaters dawning silly pumpkin heads. This performance was a huge crowd-pleaser, receiving laughs and applause throughout.
Multiple solo routines followed as the narrator informed the audience the King and Queen’s subjects will now be performing for them. I enjoyed this section of the show because it really showcased the skaters’ individual talents, including Akop Manoukian and Aidas Reklys’ pyrotechnic skills as they shot fire into the air from their costumes.
When Kurt Browning finally made an appearance where he was recognizable, the crowd went wild, continually clapping, whooping, and hollering as Browning performed a fun Ghostbusters inspired routine.
However, the second act was a lot less put together than the first. The routines seemed rushed and random, and the story that had been so prominent in the first act pretty much disappeared.
The second act gained a bit more traction when Browning returned for some comic relief as Igor, doting after a ghost. His skating was incredible, showcasing his deserved four World Championships, and while his skating was flawless he never once broke character, making the audience laugh as he tripped all over the ice as clumsy Igor. He even donned a Blue Jay’s hat mid-routine; the crowd went wild.
Kerrigan performed one final time in an impressive solo routine as the reborn vampire Queen, and Weir returned for his final solo of the night, once again grabbing the most applause from the audience.
After a super fun final group routine set to “Monster Mash”, where the skaters encouraged the crowd to stand up in their seats and join them, Kerrigan’s vampire Queen returned to her old self as she woke from her dream, only to be devoured by her monstrous party guests.
All in all, Halloween on Ice takes all the fun of the holiday’s traditions and puts it on the ice, creating a family-friendly production for all fans, both of Halloween and of figure skating, to enjoy.