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'Dancing With the Stars' recap: Broadway Bound

October 24, 2011 | 10:37 pm


All jazz hands on deck: It’s Broadway week on “Dancing With the Stars,” which means the remaining seven couples get to twirl to beloved songs from the Great White Way. This week also introduced the group dance, so the stars had to hoof it side by side in addition to doing their individual routines. Now that we’re past the halfway point on Season 13 of “Dancing With the Stars,” however, the gloves have also come off. No more putting up appearances. As a result we saw -- as host Tom Bergeron described -- a night of hot dances, heated words “and a lot of texting from the Kardashians.”

But first the cast of the Broadway production of “Sister Act” gave a “raise the roof” performance featuring nuns in sequined robes with their hands up in the air and making like the Rockettes in a kick line. Later, actress and vocal powerhouse Kristin Chenoweth slunk onstage to sing a medley of “Maybe This Time” and “I Could Have Danced All Night” flanked by members of the Troupe and Our Pros, ending with a really really high note that set off car alarms for miles and miles and earned a 10 paddle from Bruno.

But let's not forget, this is a dancing competition! And Season 13’s race is shaping up to be a battle between two strong quickstepping upstarts.

Of course, I mean Ricki Lake and Derek Hough and J.R. Martinez and Karina Smirnoff. Both couples established themselves a well-placed kick and flick above the rest of the competition. And ooh, look, a “Guys and Dolls” number! I love “Guys and Dolls”! Ricki Lake and Derek Hough had the good fortune to dance to the seminal musical’s “Luck Be a Lady” and turned out a pretty impressive performance. Ricki wore a long gold dress, and Derek was dapper in spats (but also sported less-than-savory upper lip scruff). I could see this type of dance may not get a lot of votes from viewers because so much of it is so contained and happens below the surface. Which is too bad, because this routine was pretty freaking terrific. “You don’t need luck if you’ve got talent,” said Len. “You proved your talent.” “Impeccable style. Outstanding choreography,” said Bruno. “Fit like a glove to the score of one of America’s greatest musicals. Your interpretation of the music was beyond belief.” “It’s beautiful to see such poetry in motion,” said Carrie Ann. “Can anyone say Tony award?” Total: 29.

By evening's end, Carrie Ann also wanted to give Tony to J.R. Martinez and Karina Smirnoff for their quickstep, which tied for first place with a score of 29. J.R. had the pimp spot, performing his quickstep last. And Karina pulled out all the stops with this “Chicago”-themed piece, saying it was “probably the most ambitious routine” she’s attempted on the show. It sure played terrifically. Karina was chic in a Catherine Zeta-Jones bob and made a great silhouette. And not to say it was any better than Ricki and Derek’s quickstep, but the jauntiness of the music, Karina’s bobbing fringe and wig, and the levity and flash and dash she and J.R. brought to the routine seemed to give this one a slight edge. I also love their partnership. Len likened the routine to the “Mask”-themed quickstep danced by racecar driver Helio Castroneves and Julianne Hough back in Season 5 (Helio, as you recall, went on to win the season). “You’ve created a rip-roaring, audience-rising, 11 o’clock number that makes the show a hit!” crowed Bruno. “Bob Fosse would have been proud,” said Carrie Ann.

Nancy Grace had to dance a foxtrot from the musical “Spamalot,” but she was not looking on the bright side of life during rehearsals. The TV personality wanted to up the choreography, but then accused partner Tristan MacManus of putting so many turns in the routine so she would screw up. Good for Tristan, then, for a) being so good looking, and b) for not backing down (and being so good looking while doing it). As a result, the Monty Python-esque routine that ensued was all sorts of difficult and delightful: fleet of foot and possessing a lovely whimsy. And though I’d love if Nancy had a bit more spring in her step, Tristan more than made up for it with his adorably sunny-side up performance. “I want to play chess now. I don’t know why,” said Tom after seeing Tristan’s knight outfit. “Nancy Dance-a-Lot with Sir Dance-a-Lot,” said Bruno. “Loved the Pythonesque twist you put in.” “I would call that a show stopper!” said Carrie Ann, who awarded them a 9. Len liked the personality but said there was much to be desired when they were in hold. “The posture wasn’t there, the footwork wasn’t there,” he cranked. Total: 24.

David Arquette’s got so much energy that he doesn’t know what to do with it! How to channel it into a well-contained quickstep? With jazz hands, of course! David loves jazz hands. “It’s like giving life that extra pow,” he said. No doubt his daughter Coco is a big advocate of jazz hands, given her unbridled enthusiasm toward her father. David and Kym Johnson’s quickstep took a page from “We Go Together” from “Grease.” Kym was a dead ringer for Sandy. And that energy could not be contained in their live performance. But although it looked like David was having a ball (with confetti at the end!), the routine itself was a bit all over the place. Carrie Ann said that though the performance lived up to the iconic Broadway classic, “you guys were out of sync today … just got a little ahead of yourself.” Len said “it was what it was: a bit rough around the edges” but “high energy” and “full on.” Bruno called David a “live wire,” saying his “exuberance was like a frisky teenager on spring break.” Afterward, Arquette did his best John Travolta/Danny Zuko impression up in the sky box: “The energy was right up there.… You got everybody going,” he said coolly. Tell me about it, stud. Total: 23.

Rob Kardashian was trying to “Walk Like a Man” in his cha cha this week. And manliness was a big part of the young Kardashian’s routine this week. Mom Kris Jenner came into rehearsals to announce how proud she was of her boy. “You’ve kind of gone from a boy to a man,” she said emotionally. “You’ve really changed.” Although he was armed with that pep talk and “strict orders to vibrate and kick butt,” Rob hasn’t earned his man card just yet. His cha cha, which had a “Jersey Boys” theme, looked less manly and more puppy dog, with Rob looking like he was taking his cues from Cheryl Burke. Audience attendees Lamar Odom and Kris Humphries seemed to like it, though. Len called it “clean” and “precise,” but “there was no rhythm.… It was all too stiff and starchy.” Bruno told Rob to take his routine “full on.” “It was adequate, but it didn’t have the impact and power that it should at this stage,” he said. Carrie Ann said she didn’t think the routine was as great as last week’s, then gave a dissertation on the stages of manhood, ultimately calling Rob a college grad who’s not yet ready for his master's. Lecture notes will be available at the student center after class. Total: 22.

I don’t know about you, but this partnership between Hope Solo and Maksim Chmerkovskiy may be causing more grief than it's worth. First there were tears. Hope seemed on the verge of quitting. This week she’s back and positively reenergized, but the frustrations didn’t end there. There were still harsh words exchanged. First, between Hope and Maks, after Maks’ attempt to show Hope the sexy and bring in the Troupes (“smash his face with your hair!”) disappeared like a badly applied spray tan. And then there were the words exchanged between Maks and the judges after their rickety rumba by way of 1980s East Village bohemia, set to “Seasons of Love” from “Rent.” Carrie Ann saw the effort and saw her “relaxing and trusting your natural sexiness,” but thought she forced the move too much out of hold. Bruno thought “it didn’t gel as much as you could have.” Len called it “your worst dance of the whole season.” “With all due respect, this is my show. I helped make it what it is. I love every aspect of it,” responded Maks in the sky box. “I’m a little tired that we’re being judged some on effort, and some being picked on heel-leads.” Total: 20.

Chaz Bono was trying to build on the high scores of the last two weeks, but it came crashing down in his tango with Lacey Schwimmer like a chandelier in the middle of an opera house. Was it … the Phantom of the Opera? Perhaps. Or maybe it’s because we’re past the halfway point and the dancing wasn’t up to snuff for a Week 6 performance. Truth be told, their tango was a bit wobbly. “My darling, it was a different phantom, wasn’t it?” Bruno said a bit condescendingly. “It was like a cute little penguin trying to be a menacing bird of prey.… To me, this character didn’t fit you.” Carrie Ann said it was the most aggressive she’d ever seen Chaz, but “it’s week 6. I want to see a little more content.” Len said “it was a tough dance for you; didn’t suit your personality.” Total: 19. “There’s not much to say, is there?” said Chaz.

Not really. On to the Broadway group dance! It was nice to see all the contestants being chummy. Yay, Chaz hands! Though perhaps its greatest gift was bringing back the just-eliminated Carson Kressley as a “creative director” to add more spirit fingers and razzle dazzle. As he so aptly said, “Those who can’t dance, teach,” and it was a treat to see him back among the crew, delivering his bon mots, holding Maks whenever he could, and reminding everyone to do jazz hands when in a panic (“It’s worked for me. Oh, no it didn’t.…”). Their Broadway-themed routine was a medley to “Hey, Big Spender” from “Sweet Charity” that had the guys in hats and the ladies draped over the grand staircase and that ended with “Money” from “Cabaret.” Oh, and Derek and Ricki performed a huge lift that sort of resembled Ricki scaling a mountain and coming back down again. It was all some good glitzy fun, and didn’t David Arquette look like he was having the greatest time out there? The judges abstained from scoring this routine, and got to sit back and enjoy the spectacle just like us. Yay, Broadway! 

What do you think, ballroom fans? Will Chaz be the next star to be released from this Mirrorball galaxy, or is goodwill fading for Hope? Do you agree with Maks’ argument about the wishy-washy judging, or was he out of bounds for calling Len out? Jazz-handing it over to you....


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-- Allyssa Lee

Photo: Tristan MacManus and Nancy Grace. Credit: Greg Zabilski / ABC