Those crazy kids at the Ice Capades have been watching too many late-night movies.
This year's edition, running through Monday at Capital Centre, looks more like a tour of Universal Studios than an ice show. You get a California beach number, a Carmen Miranda extravaganza, a haunted house creep show and a Big Band musical.
You get spectacle. You get sequins. You get slapstick. You even get the Simpsons and Barbie. What you don't get -- well, not enough of it -- is skating. Given the growing popularity of figure skating exhibitions, it's odd to sit through a two-hour ice show where the costumes get more applause than the skaters.
For example, there's "Barbie at the Beach," complete with surfing and a volleyball game on skates played by the Capettes in swimsuits. Lots of bouncing; not much skating.
Barbie herself, back in the show after a smash debut in last year's 50th anniversary production, glides onto the ice in the middle of the party. The living doll, portrayed by 22-year-old Shannon Sowers, has white-blond curls and, yes, legs up to her shoulders -- just like the doll with teensy-weensy skates on sale in the lobby for $25.
That's just the beginning. The "Haunted House on Ice Mountain" scares up ghosts, dry ice on ice and dancing tombstones. "Tropical Heat Wave" features an elaborate Brazilian motif, skaters suspended over the ice in neon tropical bird costumes and soloist Bobby Beauchamp dressed as an Amazon prince -- no shirt, gold lame' tights and a flaming rod.
Dr. Freud, call your office.
The theme of the 1991 show is "On the Top of the World." But there's no North Pole, no Mount Everest, no Eiffel Tower. And no real thought behind the program, which seems tossed together solely for set production pieces -- in which costume designer Jef Billings takes star billing.
Despite an impressive lineup of talent, the skating itself is buried under a sea of special effects. It's a pity. When Kelly Johnson and Jonathan Thomas, 1987 World Professional Ice Dance champions, get a few moments alone on the ice, their waltz is simple and charming.
Instead of charm, the show goes for Big Yuks during costume changes.
Steve Taylor (who bears an uncanny resemblance to Woody, the bartender on "Cheers") plays a sort of Nordic Evel Knievel who jumps through a flaming rotating circle and over a Plymouth Mini-Van. The Scarecrows, featuring veteran performer Colin Beatty and his two sons, are audience favorites with a slapstick routine that consists primarily of throwing water on each other.
Then there's Don Otto, who wears red underwear and bounces from a diving board to a trampoline and back onto the diving board. He never puts on a pair of skates (hard on the trampoline, I suppose) although he does walk barefoot on the ice. But his presence on the program finally answered a nagging question: What are the career opportunities for a former member of the U.S. World Trampoline Team?
Even the Simpsons don't land on the ice until late in the show. The family spends most of the night wandering through the stands trying to score five free seats. When they finally crash yet another Big Production Number, Bart leads a spirited rendition of "Do the Bartman" rap while the family twirls and careens on skates. The audience Wednesday night perked up and responded with enthusiastic barking, the under-21 version of the standing ovation.
The show ends with a swing back to the big band era. Nothing against Benny Goodman, but the whole show needs less "Sing, Sing, Sing" and more skate, skate, skate, if you ask me.