You are at the THEx and it is hot, steamy, hot, muggy and just plain too hot – you need some cool relief. Well the THEx’s secret and surprising delight was they had an Ice Show at Ricoh Coliseum with over 3000 seats cooled to around 20 degrees Celsius – and it was all free. Here is where you would be sitting and cooling off:
The Ricoh Show Place
Now the good folks at THEx would supply entertainment – an Ice Capades-like Salute to Broadway. I had heard word that the show was quite good so on a hot Friday afternoon I was more then ready to try out the cool Salute.
So I made my way to the Ricoh Coliseum which is where the Toronto Marlies play sandwiched between the Horse Palace and the International Centre. Sure enough cool and shadow was the word. Ricoh was about half full by the time I got there but the good news is that there is not a bad seat in the house. And the good news about the show must have gotten out because the Coliseum was near full to the brim when the show got started.
Phantom of the Opera
And what a start! The lights came up blue and revealing a circle of skaters with torches revolving while the aria of Phantom of the Opera was sung live by a skating Phantom. Talk about a dramatic opening number! I must admit I had expected canned music and I was delighted to hear not just a live voice but a great rendition. And the singing performance seemed to inspire the skaters who were sharp and crisp throughout. And they have distractions – flash cameras are not allowed but the big spotlights were flashing on and off while changing hues and masks, that has to be a challenge to the skaters who are going non-stop in a series of numbers and acrobatic performances.
Cats followed with an upbeat tempo and skaters pirouetting and preening themselves all over the ice. Here the music and two pairs skaters blended well together with the lyrics and song. Add the skating choreography and lighting – the results were quite enthralling. You could hear members of the audience having their breath taken away – especially with the pairs lifts and dramatic death spirals.
Having seen two top notch productions with great voices and innovative ice choreography, I was preparing for a letdown. Wrong! The dramatic lighting and overture came up for Lion King and again I and the audience were treated to a mini-masterpiece of staging and sound. First, masked lighting changed hues in a throbbing style matched to the music’s swings. Second, two young skaters frolic like lion cubs on the ice matching each others jumps and spirals in an exuberant display – a romp straight from the movie. The show adds some high trapeze stylings and then switches again to a moving full ensemble finale.
When the lights and All That Jazz came up on Chicago there was a round of applause – wow what staging.! The under fourteens in the audience were treated to some steamy numbers that raised the temperature a few degrees. Salute to Broadway was doing it again with outstanding singing matched by wonderfully creative ice choreography. And Chicago like Cats used pairs of skaters well mixed with the music and song. Very entertaining.
Cage Aux Folles
I didn’t think that the Lion King was going to be matched for sheer color and styling – wrong again. The troupe did quite a staging number with Cages Aux Folles. Again the lights and masks were sumptuous as were the costume while the skating was nothing short of acrobatic with dramatic jumps and spins. In fact the acrobatic exuberance pumped up the lyrics and song. It was remarkable to see such great singing while skating. Now I started to wonder what would Salute to Broadway serve up next.
Well I should know by now. And yes, the producers used the haunting songs of Evita with red ribbon acrobatics to stunning effect along with a very inventive slow change of colour, masks, and strobe lights. It also helps to have a beautiful rendition of Don’t Cry for Me Argentina. But the styling of the skating changed as well, a slower pace more spins and spirals timed to the tempo of the singing and music.
What a better Broadway show to do the final number with than Grease. The rock and roll beat allows for all sort of jumps, spins, spirals, and general hotdog skating- one could easily see Canada’s Elvis Stoyko having fun in this number. But even without Elvis the exuberance of the singing and dancing … oops, skating was absolutely infectious. It was a toe tapping and hand clapping good time and a super end to the show.
So consider that I had just happened to overhear the people at the CNE Info booth praising the show(no sign of this show in the newspapers; but I did not do a thorough search either), found the going hot and muggy – and so I decided to take an afternoon cooler break at Ricoh. And what did I get ? A Very Cool Salute to Broadway show with great singing, skating and super staging. It was like getting the price of the CNE ticket refunded and then some. The only thing missing -well rammaa dammaa ding-dang I am too busy humming sweet nothings on my wayout to figure that out.