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Posted on Fri 17 Jun
Michael Flatley’s Lord Of The Dance is a quarter-century old and still going strong. The two-hour spectacle is an explosion of noise - added to which, at the end, is the sound of hands enthusiastically clapping together, as the show receives yet another standing ovation.
If you’ve not yet seen this high-kicking extravaganza, Lord Of The Dance’s current run in Birmingham provides the perfect opportunity to get with the programme and check out what 25 years of fuss has been about - assuming you can get a ticket, of course.
The evening of entertainment begins with a film of Flatley explaining how he created Lord Of The Dance after leaving Riverdance in 1995. The 63-year-old Irish American’s choreography is legendary, and it’s easy to see why. The dancing throughout the show is elegant, enchanting and exciting. Contemporary dancing, at times almost balletic in style, complements the Irish tap dancing perfectly.
The story of Lord Of The Dance emerges from the dreams of the little spirit, blending Irish folklore and biblical references to tell a classic tale of good triumphing over evil. The title of the show, as well as the central musical theme, is taken from a contemporary Christian hymn. New choreography, staging and costumes celebrate traditional Irish heritage. As you would expect, the dancers are incredible: young, beautiful, lithe, athletic, precise in their movement, perfect in their timing. Their seemingly boundless energy is utterly breathtaking.
There are beautiful vocals and fiddle playing, too - often a relief from the loud, pre-recorded soundtrack. I would also prefer it if the tin whistle played by the little spirit sounded more authentic, rather than being mimed to the aforementioned pre-recording.
Female and male roles are stereotypical and somewhat outdated for 2022. The women’s femininity is emphasised by soft-shoe dancing, the men’s masculinity by loud and heavy tapping (and fighting).
The women in particular are somewhat scantily clad at times, a fact which could potentially make the production a little raunchy for younger children. But even bearing this in mind, I would still recommend Lord Of The Dance as a good family show.
The production might also increase its appeal to a wider audience if cultural and ethnic diversity were represented by the dancers themselves.
At the end of the performance there’s a hologram-like presentation of Michael Flatley dancing. He may have handed over the live-on-stage reins to a new generation, but his presence remains much in evidence throughout the show.
Lord Of The Dance runs at Birmingham’s The Alexandra until Sunday (19 June). Its diehard fans will no doubt be looking forward to another 25 years of high-kicking, high-energy and highly entertaining traditional Irish dancing.
Reviewed by Sue Hull at The Alexandra Theatre on Thursday 16 June where the production continues to show until Sun 19 June.
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