Oh, what a long, strange trip it's been — 37 cities, 250 costumes and more than 200,000 rhinestones. But finally, Sunday at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, it was time for the Dancing with the Stars tour to come to an end. "It's bittersweet but I'm happy to go home," Cheryl Burke said after she joined the cast and a few crew members for their final pre-performance cheer. "I'm going to miss everyone," added Edyta Sliwinska. "I'm just really excited to sleep in my own bed."
But first there was a show to do. And what's a final show without a few surprises? The first non-scripted moment of the evening came when the entire crew joined the dancers on stage to dance the twist. Derek Hough was mid-move when he caught a glimpse of the crew, all dressed in black, doing the moves behind him and pointed out the impromptu dance party to his partner, who quickly burst into a smile. It was the first of the night's many happy moments.
After Joey Lawrence (a Philly native with family in the audience) and Sliwinska performed a cha-cha, the night's special guests, Season 5 champs Helio Castroneves and Julianne Hough, hit the floor for their first performance. Though Castroneves was bouncing as he took the stage, less than an hour beforehand he told TV Guide, "I'm freaking out! There are 8,000 people out there. At the live show there are only 300. I mean, there are millions watching, but they're not right there. It's incredible, but it is nerve-racking."
And it's even more nerve-racking when you're the hitting the floor as the reigning champs. "[The tour] is a way to say thank you to everyone who supported me and Julianne on the show," Helio said. "I want to do well for the people who voted for us and because we won. I don't want to look like, ‘Who's this guy? What the heck?'" But as Castroneves and Hough glided around the stage in their fiery red costumes, it was clear to see why the duo took home top honors. When they finished, the crowd went wild and Castroneves took it all in. "This is probably the last time I'm going to be dancing — or at least in this kind of competition," he said. "It definitely has been an incredible experience for me."
After a quick intermission it was Marie Osmond's turn to get in on the fun. As the star worked the room before performing her second song of the night, Patsy Cline's "Crazy," all the male dancers snuck up behind her. When Osmond realized what was going on, she laughed and said, "This is the last show, which means I have no idea what's going to happen!" But the joke was on the guys. Instead of picking a man from the audience to duet with her (as Osmond normally does during this part of the show), she had each of the guys sing some of the song. (Well, everyone except for the show's choreographer, Louis van Amstel, who sprinted backstage when Osmond said she was calling upon their pipes.)
Still, the biggest surprise of the night was yet to come. With just three numbers to go, the entire cast and crew emerged from backstage again — but this time not for a dance number. Instead, tour manager Angie took the mic and turned to Wayne Newton. "This is our third tour, and for the first time our entire cast and crew got together and decided we wanted to give an award," she said. "So we want to give you, Wayne Newton, the ‘Simply the Best' award because you are simply the best." Taking the trophy, Newton got a little choked up, saying, "I want to thank you all for a part of your life."
Appropriately, Newton's final performance of the night was "Danke Schoen." As he made his way around the front rows of the audience, shaking hands with everyone and even getting what he called a "French kiss" from an elderly lady who needed help making her way to the stage, the female dancers snuck up behind him. The girls, including Burke, his professional partner from the season, wrapped him in red-feather boas. Newton couldn't have been happier. From the look on his face, you would have no idea how disappointed Newton truly was about the tour coming to a close.
"I'm a little down because we're leaving some people that we've truly become friends with," he said. "It's a bummer and we're going to miss them." On the bright side, the end of the tour doesn't mean the end of Newton's dancing career. "My wife is going to make sure [I keep dancing]," he said. "Cheryl has promised that she'll come up to Las Vegas and teach us both." And that is certainly a reason to smile, end of the tour or not.
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