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Season Reviews: COLD AS ICE

May 25, 2007
Entertainment in the Hamptons

Review: Cold As Ice


This season at the Gateway Playhouse will be quite a change from their usual compilation of old and new established Broadway musicals. This year's program includes an evening of tribute to Frank Sinatra and a show called Cirque Dreams that will feature acrobats, contortionists and aerialists. There are, of course, some tried and tested shows such as Dreamgirls, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Urban Cowboy in this season's repertoire, but perhaps the most thought provoking is Cold As Ice, the show that opened the season at the Gateway Playhouse.

It is always a risk when a producer decides to move away from established procedures and formats. If you are old enough, you will remember the debate about the propriety of the ballet sequence in Oklahoma. Then came West Side Story, the first musical where dancing was just as important as singing. So to be the first theater in the U.S. to stage Cold as Ice, a show incorporating ice skaters as an integral and almost dominant part of the show, is an act of faith by producer Paul Allan.

Cold As Ice is a story of six skaters from the U.S., Canada and Russia, with very different backgrounds striving to win medals, first at the national level and then at the Winter Olympics. The stage in the theater in Bellport has been transformed into a skating rink, the orchestra banished off stage and anyone not on skates has to walk very carefully!

Heading the cast is the legendary Olympic Gold Medalist and figure skater Oksana Baiul, who displays the charisma and grace that endeared her to fans around the world back in 1994 at the Lillehammer Games. As the star of the show, she by no means monopolizes the ice or the other skaters who perform with great skill, especially considering the way they have had to adjust their techniques to fit the available space. Derrick Delmore, Philip Deyesso, Erica Starkman, Stephanie Rosenthal, Lance Vipono and Shannon Lenihan all have outstanding resumes as skaters and Keith Andrews, the director and choreographer, has done a great job in seamlessly intertwining their movements with those of the non-skating cast members. Even though the cast doesn't skate at speeds used in a full-size rink, they are still fast enough to produce nasty accidents if a skater or actor is not correctly positioned at all times. Sitting near the front of the theater makes for additional excitement, as skaters zoom past, jump and stop, very close to the edge of the stage. Andrews also made an interesting interaction of television screens and overhead projection as part of the fast moving show, that provide action near many parts of the stage at the same time.

To help tell the story each skater has an alter ego played by an actor who delivers most of the dialogue and sings the musical numbers. All of the actors worked hard to back up their "other half," although some voices were somewhat uneven and a little nervous, but this will improve during the run of the show. The music and lyrics are by Frank D'Agostino and are pleasant and melodious, which is more than can be said about some of the current crop of Broadway productions.

Each skater has a story to tell about their skating and personal lives and we begin to understand, in some detail, the differing ways parents react to the significant personal stresses and costs involved in developing the talents of their skating star child. As the mothers join together in "The Skatin' Mama Lament," it brings out that difficult balance between the natural desire to see a child do well and the way that, unfortunately, some parents live vicariously though their children's achievements and end up pushing them too far.

At the end of a very pleasant and entertaining evening, at which the opening night audience gave the cast a prolonged standing ovation, the question is whether this work is destined for Broadway, as the producers and backers hope. Well, Starlight Express relied on roller skaters, so there is some precedent. With a cast including Oksana Baiul, some work on the music and lyrics and maybe a star singer to add balance - why not? In the meantime, this is a different and lively show for the entire family - something you can't say very often. Full marks to Paul Allan and his colleagues at Gateway for taking the risk.

Cold As Ice Opens At Gateway Theater In Bellport


Gateway producer Paul Allan has once again outdone himself in bringing “Cold As Ice,” an ice-skating musical to the Gateway Theater in Bellport.

The show, which will run at the Gateway Theater from May 23rd to June 17th, 2007, is clearly Broadway-bound.

The show was incredible and breathtaking.  The show is non-stop action.  Of course, action was a good thing, since the temperatures in the Gateway Theater last Friday night were in the low 50s to accommodate the ice-skating rink.

“Cold As Ice” centers around the lives, challenges, difficulties, accomplishments and pressures of six national skaters, including Oksana Baiul (Maya), the 1994 Olympic gold medalist from the Ukraine.

The story in many ways mirrors the real lives and struggles of ice skaters and professional athletes in general.

I felt that even though the stage ice was small, cast members made the best use of the space and put on an incredible performance.  At times, it felt like the skaters would come right out into the audience, but of course that never happened.

The show and performers put on an Olympic quality production, similar to those that helped Ms. Baiul win her medal in the 1994 Olympic games.

“Cold As Ice” was the most exciting performance I have ever seen at the Gateway Theater.  I would urge you to bring your friends, family, and most importantly, children to attend the show.  Bring a jacket.

All seats in the Gateway are excellent.  Tickets can be purchased online at or by calling (631) 286-1133.

Additional shows for 2007 will include: My Way, Dreamgirls, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Cirque Dreams and Urban Cowboy.