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A different Barry thrills AT&T Park

Manilow teams with Brian Boitano for skating spectacular

The cast of "AFLAC Presents Brian Boitano Skating Spectacular Starring Musical Guest Barry Manilow".
The cast of "AFLAC Presents Brian Boitano Skating Spectacular Starring Musical Guest Barry Manilow". (Becky Regan/MLB.com)

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By Becky Regan / MLB.com
(12/06/2007) - SAN FRANCISCO - The familiar chant of "Barry" rang through the Giants' ballpark on Friday night, but the Barry who took the field was belting out timeless hits instead of towering home runs.

Barry Manilow's smooth melodies set the tone in AT&T Park for the "AFLAC Presents Brian Boitano Skating Spectacular," which also featured fellow Olympic gold medalists Dorothy Hamill, David Pelletier and Viktor Petrenko. The gold medalist were joined by Olympians and professional skaters Steven Cousins, Yuka Sato, Jason Dungjen, Elana Elanova, Andrei Khvalko and ice acrobats Vladamir Besedin and Oleksiy Polishuk.

Giants fans had the cheer down and the skaters reciprocated with a little Giants style on the ice. Boitano, Dungjen, Pelletier and Cousin burst on the ice in the second act, wearing Giants uniforms and swinging baseball bats. They skated an imaginary infield diamond into the ice and pantomimed a game to the song "I Want You To Want Me."

They were, of course, skating over the real infield diamond, hidden beneath a rink that looked magical under the starry night and colored lighting. Manilow stood above it all singing some of his greatest songs like "Could It Be Magic" and "Ready To Take A Chance Again," as well as '70s classics like the Bee Gees' "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart."

Boitano and Hamill really got the show going with a stunning pairs routine while Manilow accompanied them with "The Way We Were." Judging by their graceful routine, the two skaters are still pretty close to the form they had when they were Olympic competitors.

Boitano's precision on the ice made it look like he captured the gold just yesterday. His first solo performance was set to John Lennon's "Imagine," and Boitano didn't miss a beat. Wearing an ice-blue outfit, Boitano caught the feeling of the song while the audience seemed to catch its breath.

Before his second performance of the evening, set to Manilow's "I Write the Songs," Boitano explained this was the only song his father ever requested he skate to.

"Well, Dad, I bet you never imagined I'd be skating to it while Barry sang it. This one's for you," Boitano said in a video before the routine.

Hamill captivated the audience with her solo styling, too. Her graceful skating, soothing music selection and flowing costumes put the audience under a subdued awe.

Besedin and Polishuk brought down the house. First, they thrilled the audience with their "Rock Me Amadeus" routine, set to a modern mix of Mozart's music. The gravity-defying tricks took sheer muscle and incredible balance.

Their second performance was more of a comical routine, where the muscled and hairy men came out in white tutus and tights while attempting to gracefully flounce around the rink. As funny as the routine was, the acrobats still hit extremely technical tricks and lifts that left the audience gasping in between laughter.

The show came to an end with all the skaters taking the ice in red holiday costumes for a grand finale that was set to Manilow's "Could It Be Magic." The evening certainly was.

"I want to thank you for all the support. I love you San Francisco," Boitano said as the evening came to a close.

If you didn't get a chance to see the performance in person, the show will air on Dec. 22 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on NBC and then again on Dec. 23 and 28 on the Style Network.

Becky Regan is an associate reporter at MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.