Boitano & Manilow on ice

San Francisco’s AT&T Park has seen its share of Barrys: Bonds, Zito and now…Manilow.

Yes, Barry Manilow was on hand Wednesday night for what has to be a Bay Area first: an ice “spectacular” in a ball park. The event’s official (and cumbersome) title was Aflac Presents Brian Boitano Skating Spectacular Starring Barry Manilow, but, in truth, the event was all about the taping of a TV special.

Granted, audience members paid between $55 and $152.25 to watch professional skaters — many of them former Olympians — speed around the ice while Manilow sang songs from the ’70s, all while a fleet of cameras captured the action for a Dec. 22 broadcast on NBC and Dec. 23 on the Style network.

Though entertaining, this ice show was definitely tailored to the cameras and not to the live spectators. Except for the select few who were sitting in rink-side seats, the bulk of the crowd was in the stands, far away from the skaters.

Images were broadcast on the stadium’s giant screen, but the screen was so wide it cut off skaters’ heads.

From what could be seen on screen, this show, with its flashy lights and slick, gliding camera moves, is going to look a lot better on TV than it did at the park.

Still, ice skating, even for all the theatrics, is an athletic event, and watching it live can be thrilling. Boitano, 44, is an exciting skater, and his solos — one to John Lennon’s “Imagine” and another, a tribute to his father, while Manilow sang “I Write the Songs” — were dynamic and razor sharp.

Boitano’s co-star for the evening, Dorothy Hamill is still gorgeous at 51, and skates like a dream. Graceful, poised and totally in control, Hamill stole the show with powerful her Act 1 closer set to Manilow singing “Weekend in New England.”

A younger, more athletic skater, 34-year-old Yuka Sato, impressed with her jumps and twirls (accompanied by Manilow’s “My Eyes Adored You”), but she has nowhere near Hamill’s elegance.

Pairs skaters Elena Leonova and Andrei Khvalko performed two routines: one involving bags of money and a bizarre Italian pop song, and another, a real dazzler, to Manilow performing “Even Now.” Both routines, oddly, ended with Khvalko, holding Leonova by the ankles, spinning around and bobbing his partner up and down so it looked like she might bash her head against the ice.

The actual head-bashing slapstick skating was provided by Vladamir Besedin and Oleksiy Polischuk (above), two strongman acrobats who happen to perform their act while on skates. Their first bit was a spoof of Mozart that ended with both men in muscle shirts bouncing each other around to “Rock Me Amadeus.” The second was a randy spoof of Swan Lake that will definitely baffle Middle America.

Viktor Petrenko strutted his cowboy stuff in Act 1 and then unleashed his Olympic champion in Act 2, with Manilow singing “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart.” And Steven Cousins tried hard to impress during Manilow’s “It Never Rains in California” and then with Tom Jones’ “Thunderball,” but he’s no Boitano or Petrenko.

Poor David Pelletier and Jason Dungjen didn’t have much to do except during the cheesy salute to the Giants.

Kristi Yamaguchi dropped by to say nice things about Boitano, and after the show was over, nearly all the skaters — Boitano and Hamill included — did re-takes to smooth out some jumps and landings. Manilow even resurfaced to lip synch one of the songs he had performed live earlier. It just goes to show you should never believe anything you see on TV.

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