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Theatre review: Robin Cousins’ ICE

Robin Cousins' new show Ice arrives at Milton Keynes Theatre

Robin Cousins' new show Ice arrives at Milton Keynes Theatre

If you fancy a night watching axels, salcos and toe loops, then get yourself over to Milton Keynes Theatre where Robin Cousins’ latest production, ICE, is set to run until this Saturday, writes Alan Wooding.

Last night’s opening performance was certainly one of real magic, for ICE is a magnificent spectacle with a soundtrack and lighting to match. There are 14 – well 13 actually as Jenna Smith was missing – of the world’s finest skating stars who create a seamless change of atmosphere and mood in a 90 minute production that left most of Tuesday night’s audience calling for more.

The sound of skates biting into the freezing surface and seeing slivers of ice rise as the skaters perform a series of complicated routines and clever stunts, it’s simply testament to the ingenuity of Mr Cousins and his team and it also demonstrates just how far ice skating has come in the past few years.

Robin Cousins is unquestionably still Britain’s most famous figure skater, despite it being 34 years since he won gold at Lake Placid at the 1980 Winter Olympics in New York State.

But thanks to the popularity of television’s Dancing on Ice – on which he is head judge – the Bristol-born 56-year-old has created a spectacular stage event that certainly wowed the MK audience and is sure to do the same at The Lowry in Salford, Wolverhampton’s Grand and Bristol’s Hippodrome in the next few weeks before the current tour ends in early May.

I well remember Cousins winning the BBC’s Sports Personality of The Year award in his golden year – he relegated Sebastian Coe and Daley Thompson (my choice!) to the lesser places – while it was four years later when I took my two daughters to Wembley to see him skate in an ice show at the Empire Pool, now renamed the Wembley Arena.

With seven male and seven females in the ICE line-up, all hand picked from among the world’s best ice dancers, it’s almost inconceivable that they can race around a specially-constructed – but significantly smaller than usual – ice rink on the Milton Keynes stage at breakneck speed without mishap.

It’s an evening of incredible complicated routines, back flips and somersaults with the likes of American Michael Solonoski singing superbly while continuing to flash around the rink at a rate of knots before gymnast Kate Endriulaitis hangs suspended from a hoop high above the ice while performing a series of complicated gyrations … it made me quite giddy!

However my personal favourites were cheeky former Canadian Olympian Vaughn Chipeur and Californian beauty Brandee Malto. The former somehow managed to stay within the confines of the rink while performing back somersaults at speed while the latter had a mesmerising style and poise that meant that you simply couldn’t take your eyes off her.

As ICE’s creator and choreographer, Robin Cousins has certainly put together a dazzling show although it’s really a mishmash of musical numbers to showcase the skaters’ art..

ICE runs until Saturday, April 12, with tickets at £11.90 to £37.90 from Milton Keynes Theatre box office on 08448 717652 (booking fees apply) or on-line at www.atgtickets.com/miltonkeynes

 

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