Lord of the Dance at the Sage Gateshead
Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games review
~a guest blog by Cycles with Wolves.
Flashback to 2000, I’m seven years old sat waiting to have a movie night with my family. My parents decide on something entertaining and educational, something that will fascinate the dancer in me for years to come. I’ve just started tap and ballet classes and am thoroughly enjoying the tap (ballet not so much). The shoes never left my feet, a fact that drove my mother mad as I danced outside on the patio whilst she tried to do chores.
On flickers the VHS and the show begins. Loud strong irish music begins pumping out and a bedazzled man flies across the stage, his feet clicking away at speed. I watched that whole show spell-bound by all the bright colours, the synchronisation of a team of twenty dancers moving their feet in unison. I must have watched Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance half a dozen times over the years, I bet the VHS is still in the cupboard somewhere.
So flash forward a few years and I’m told that I am going to be reviewing the opening night of Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games at the Sage Gateshead, I’m instantly hit with Irish pride.
Upon arriving at the Sage, we headed round to the stage door for the first exciting part of our evening- interviewing the dancers themselves! We were taken onto the stage where the leads were arranging everyone for a rehearsal.
We spoke to Mary Mirasola, who performs the part of Morrighan the Temptress and to James Keegan who will be dancing the role of the Lord of the Dance tonight. After a chatty interview we leave them to carry on with their rehearsal.
8pm arrives and we take our seats, perfectly positioned at the end of the row so I can get a clean look at the entire stage and for some photos. The stage darkens and a huge ticking clock appears and an impatient little boy waits for the clock to tick around. A good minute goes by of just ticking, creating tension and excitement for the show ahead. The little boy is actually Michael Flatley’s son, and soon Flatley himself appears and hoists his son up to make the clock strike 12. A voiceover appears letting us know that we are about to watch the most successful dance show of all time and you can hear the excited chatter as city after city flashes up on the large screen.
A story of good vs evil, the opening scene is like something from a cult. Dancers appear in long robes whilst chanting along to a lone voice singing out ‘Lord of the Dance’. It’s quite an ominous start to a story about lovers being kept apart by evil.
But the scene is perked up by the arrival of The Little Spirit, wearing the shiniest holographic bodysuit I’ve ever seen. Playing her little flute, she flips and dances her way across the stage.
A few moments later, James Keegan flies onto the stage as the Lord of the Dance. A spotlight lights him up as he shows off his skill as the Lord, jeering on the crowd for more cheers. Around his waist a shining belt that reads ‘Lord of the Dance’- the source of his magical dancing abilities. In a crisp white shirt he stands out from the backing dancers in this forest scene. James performs solo after solo throughout the night, demonstrating his skill and 13 years of experience within the company.
A dark stage flickers on to a terrifying closeup of Don Dorcha as he laughs at The Little Spirit. The bad guy of the show, he has the crazy maniac thing down with this freaky video that lights up the entire back screen. He decides to steal the magical belt from the Lord of the Dance and soon begins to build an army to help him.
Soon after we are introduced to Morrighan the Temptress. She appears on stage in a red bodysuit and to the loudest cheering of the night. The dancer, Mary Mirasola, is an American dancer now living here in Newcastle and around 100 of her family and friends are in the audience to see her dance this lead role for the first time. Everytime she appeared on the stage they cheered and hollered for her throughout her time on the stage! You could see her smile from rows and rows back, it was clear she was loving performing in her hometown.
Morrighan has the clear role of the sexy lead with her dances performed to fiery backgrounds and incredible guitar rifts but the entire show has a certain sex appeal.
Michael Flatley made Irish dancing sexy and this was definitely a tradition carried on in ‘Dangerous Games’. Having a look around at the audience throughout the show it was clear that there was an older average age for this show and every time something sexy happened on stage you could hear slight gasps and hollering and clapping!
The first shocking scene are when all the female dancers are wearing traditional irish dress and with a snap the music switches up and they strip to reveal sparkling black bras and leggings. Not to be missed out, a military style scene follows with the male dancers ripping off their own shirts. This show is definitely sexy and not for the prudes!
But the sexiness is not confined to just the dancers, live singers and violinists appear throughout the show in beautiful, bedazzled dressers. I was quite impressed with the violinists who danced their way across the stage in heels whilst playing!
A beautiful songstress appears too and wows us with her incredible vocal range. Playing the part of the goddess, her voice is definitely stunning. Taking the stage solo throughout the acts, it is very clear she can hold the audience’s interest on her own.
As for storyline, it was sometimes a little hard to follow but did it matter? Nope! It was easy to tell the good scenes from the bad scenes and you know you are there to witness the skill of these dancers more so than the story.
By the end of the show, you will have seen the Lord of the Dance fight for his true love and win. I was so impressed with the dancing, I can’t quite describe the pride I felt watching and listening to this show. Seeing the unison within the troupe was something I was in awe of.
The show ends with the infamous line dance, around 20 dancers moving as one. It’s incredible to watch and if you have the chance you must see it for yourself.
With a bang, the show ends.
Or does it?
A video appears of Michael Flatley, and he splits into 3. This man set the world record for 28 taps a second, (is that humanly possible?) and he proves that he doesn’t need any backing dancers. Flatley did it first Beyonce! An incredible ending that had the entire audience silent and staring, it was such a showcase of skill it would only have been better if it had have been the man himself (but at 58, I think the man deserves a rest!).
I was so grateful to be at the opening night here in Newcastle and it made a dream come true for me!
~a guest blog by Cycles with Wolves.
Before the opening night of Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games at the Sage Gateshead, Nights Out in Newcastle headed backstage to interview the Lord of the Dance himself and Morrighan the Temptress.
Check out our interview in ‘The Quick 10‘.
The Quick 10
NOIN: Hello there! So tell us a little about yourselves and how you got into dancing
JK: I’m James Keegan and I’m dancing the role of Lord of the Dance tonight. I’ve been with the company about 13 years which makes me one of the longest serving dancers in the company. I started dancing when I was four years old.
MM: Hi I’m Mary Mirasola and I’m dancing the role of Morrighan the Temptress. I only joined the troupe six months ago but I’ve been dancing since I was about three. I started because my parents were interested in having a kid that did Irish dancing so they threw me into it and here I am! I’m a long way from home, I’m originally from America so being away from home can be a bit tough not seeing your family everyday but we’re all pretty close in the troupe so we’ve got like our own little family.
NOIN: So why Irish dancing?
JK: I was born in Manchester and both my parents are Irish and so it was just a part of keeping up family tradition and to our roots. Within the cast, if you’re not from Ireland you tend to have an Irish connection somewhere that got you into it. It was really important to keep the culture going within the family. We did Irish music and dance and then when Riverdance appeared; it was something for us to aim for professionally.
NOIN: Irish dancing is quite a focused style; do you dance other styles of dance?
JK: For most of us it’s mostly just Irish dancing because it is so technical and strenuous that you only really have time to focus on that. Like with Mary’s parents wanting her to do it, we have seen a huge rise in popularity for Irish dancing. It’s become so popular now and people just want to get involved whether they’ve got a connection or not.
MM: I started gymnastics at around the same time as I started Irish dancing and did it for about 10 years.
NOIN: So what has been the highlight of your careers so far?
MM: Tonight for me will definitely be one of them. I’m performing for all my family and friends right here in Newcastle! About 100 of them or so are coming to see it tonight.
JK: I have loads; I mean I’ve been dancing it for 13 years! When the show was revamped to Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games in 2014, we opened in London’s West end, which was just amazing. Then we had a run on Broadway in New York which was like something from a dream. We’ve toured all over the world with it and that’s a highlight of the job itself.
NOIN: So James, what was it like being told you’re going to be dancing the part of Lord of the Dance?
JK: Oh it’s such an honour. It’s a massive role and big shoes to fill so you do feel a lot of pressure. But I am really proud of it, I watched it as a kid and never thought I’d be in the show let alone be the Lord himself. You do have to pinch yourself sometimes but you also have to remember to enjoy it! It’s a great feeling coming out to supportive crowds every night. It’s such a good buzz!
NOIN: And for you Mary, performing in your hometown! Is it more pressure than a normal night?
MM: No, I’m not letting the pressure get to me, I’m really excited! I think I’ll perform a bit better in front of people that I know and people that have seen me throughout the years working hard to get up there on that stage. A lot of my family have seen me perform before, but they’ve never seen me perform lead so tonight is a really big night for me!
NOIN: So tell us a bit more about life on tour!
JK: Well this is a four-month tour and we perform six days a week. It’s pretty tiring but fun. We travel as a troup and we’re all friends so it’s not so bad being on the road together. Today was a travel day, so we were on the bus for three hours, grabbed lunch and now we’re marking up for this new stage here in the Sage. As we’re here for the next few days we’ll have some time to ourselves to go out in the city.
NOIN: So tell us a little bit about the lifestyle of a dancer, what’s your diet and training regime like?
JK: We travel a lot so it’s mostly common sense. We’re often in cities so we’ll stop for food at chains like Nando’s or Wagamama’s where we can get something fairly healthy to eat. As for training, it’s quite hard on the body. We have to do a lot of stretching, ice baths. We call them ‘Ice Beasts’ – just a massive ice bucket that we stand in up to our waist for about ten minutes, theyre horrible but we need to do them to take the inflammation down. They’re such a big help!
MM: Yeah, you can really feel the difference the next day once you’ve taken one of the ‘Ice Beasts’. The hardest part is definitely just making sure to take care of yourself all the time.
NOIN: Okay, so you’re professional dancers, surely you’re going out on the Toon and putting others to shame whilst you’re here?
JK: The girls might but I’m definitely not going to! I’m actually useless at dancing any other type! I’m really not a mover on the dance floor, I’m the exact opposite! Bit like a robot!
MM: It depends if people ask! I think us girls will let loose and enjoy it a bit more than the boys will!
NOIN: So you’re here in Newcastle for the next few days… what are your plans?
JK: Over to Mary she’s the local!
MM: We’re going to go down to Grey Street and do a bit of shopping! Take a little walk down the Quayside. I wish I could take them to the Quayside market on Sunday but sadly we’ll be gone by then! My favourite places to go for a night out in Newcastle is Lady Grey’s, it has great beer and a lovely atmosphere!
And with that we let them get back to their rehearsal whilst we collected our tickets ahead of the show!
A huge thank you to James Keegan and Mary Mirasola for taking the time out of their rehearsal for this interview!
You can find our more about Lord of The Dance: Dangerous Games on their website here.