Caveat lector: I took no notes, filmed nothing except for Jeremy Abbott's performance, and was suffering from the debilitating effects of sleep deprivation during the show.
Yasmin Siraj skated second on the night to what I think was a Beyonce song. It was my first time watching Miss Siraj and she was a very pleasant surprise. The program's choreography and concept was not earth-shatteringly original or anything of the sort, but Miss Siraj was quite expressive, musical and projected well to the audience. One of my skating-oblivious friends who was with me pronounced Miss Siraj's performance as her "favorite of the first half."
Jason Brown skated to MC Hammer's "U Can't Touch This" in a very sparkly shirt. Watching Mr. Brown live confirms that he is a skater of considerable finesse despite his age, and he even managed to drive what I assumed was the local chapter of the Jason Brown Fan Society (who, coincidentally, were sitting all around me) into a frenzy. It was a very fun number overall, and I've since decided Mr. Brown's continued lack of triple axel/quad is a good indication the various deities that are said to populate this world are most definitely a cruel and capricious bunch.
Emily Hughes skated. All I remember about the performance was that the lights during the program turned red with white spots, sort of like a mutant ladybug.
Douglas Razzano skated a rather flat performance that lacked conviction and commitment as the program unfolded.Without the big jumps it's difficult for Mr. Razzano to drum up some excitement--he is definitely one skater who needs someone to "open up his soul."
Kimmie Meissner skated a rather generic program but she has definitely become more refined and less airplane armsy since her days of competitive success. After her performance, Miss Meissner told Paul Wylie and Emily Hughes that she has been performing in shows and coaching other skaters.
Christina Gao skated to what was probably her new short program this season in a lavender dress. The program was yet another one of those virtually interchangeable ladies programs with achy, slightly mournful violin music, a pastel dress and generic graceful movements. However, Miss Gao did look less gangly and more in control of her limbs.
Ryan Bradley, as expected, performed the requisite Philippe Candeloro role of hamming it up and taking his shirt off and throwing it to the audience. The audience, as expected, ate it all up and gave Mr. Bradley the loudest ovation of the night. The girls sitting behind me were certainly beside themselves with excitement, even if they didn't know what his name was. Being the snobbish buzzkill I am, I used to have an immensely difficult time looking past Mr. Bradley's lack of speed and skating skills during his competitive days, but I have to admit that he's much more enjoyable as a show skater when such things are secondary to providing a rousing performance.
Jeremy Abbott debuted his new long program to an instrumental version of Bring Him Home from Les Mis. Mr. Abbott was clearly the most refined and smooth skater of the show--something even my skating-oblivious friends noticed. His Bring Him Home was subtle, understated and will be one of those programs that will cast a spell of stunned silence over the audience if ever skated clean (knowing Mr. Abbott, this will probably occur only at US Nationals). During the performance, however, I couldn't help but think that there were quite a few moments that resembled a retread of last year's Exogenesis long program.