LORD OF THE DANCE: DANGEROUS GAMES – LONDON REVIEW
LORD OF THE DANCE: DANGEROUS GAMES
‘Awesome, Great, Expert Dancers’ Thats for those who never took their Gaelic Lessons or those that are not aware of the original language of the Irish.
For most i think we wouldn’t be aware of the language, but we all know about irish dancing, and had you been born and raised through school in Ireland or born to Irish Parents, you will have been been made to do Irish Dancing, like it or not at some point. After seeing Lord of the dance – its hard not to like it.
This isnt the shortest review you will ever read and is lengthy but i wanted to try and give this show what it deserves, so grab a cuppa, sit down and coninue reading.
We have all heard of the show, its broken records everywhere, reviews have been written already, superlatives made. I am just adding to to these as a footnote in history.
Lord of the Dance is celebrating its 20th Anniversary with this 2nd version of the show Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games. This reboot of the show debuted at the historic palladium theatre in London’s west end back in September 2014. After residencies at a few theatres the show toured, taking in Europe, South Africa and the U.S. Michael Flatley himself entertained the masses until his final performance in 1996 at Caesars Palace Las Vegas. Now on a world tour it is visiting every part of the globe, making history at every stop with new lead dancers having taken the lead from Mr Flatley himself.
This show comes to The Sage on March 20-23rd, but we couldn’t wait until the Gateshead Performance so we were lucky enough to gain press tickets to the opening night of the London show at the New Wimbledon Theatre, so we could tell you all about it and let you know what we thought in anticipation.
So upon taking my seat which was dead centre stage on the bottom row of the stalls, 12 rows back approximately, I was suitably impressed by the non obstructed view i had to take in the dancing i was about to see. I looked around, myself being 34 years old felt that i was one of the younger people in the theatre as about 60% were aged 40+, which taking into consideration the show launched 20 years ago meant many had already seen this and were coming back because they loved it or were intrigued to see this new version.
The lights dimmed, curtains to the seating area drawn. This was it, the audience was ready, the dancers behind the curtain were ready, Showtime!
The stage wasn’t the biggest we will ever see and so a large electronic screen was placed in the background to deliver the scenery. A vision of a large brass clock greeted us, tick-tock, tick-tock it went. This kept us in silence and intrigue, what was going to happen, who was going to appear, when were the dancers going to appear? Then making his cameo appearance is a smartly dressed Michael St James Flatley in his white suit. Looking up at the clock, jumping, trying to reach the moving hands. Then the father, the man himself Michael Flatley appearing on screen. Looking at his son wondering what he was doing. After which he holds little Michael up. Upon a stretched out arm little Michael changes the hands. Prompting them to strike 12.
This brought us into a short voice over from Michael Flatley reminding us that this is the ‘biggest selling dance show of all time’, just how long this show had been going, where its been, what its achieved. To this the audience raised a clap.
The screen illuminated with stars,a voice sang out. ‘Dance , Dance wherever you may be’…the voice rang out introducing only what i would describe as a group, a cult even. Singing there own repetitive cult like song. We were definitely seeing the dark side of this story at the beginning.
Its a story of Good vs Evil, The Lord of Dance and his chieftains vs The Dark Lord and his army of disciples. True Loves being kept apart.
We are guided along the way by the by the Little Spirit playing tunes on her flute. Taking us through varied landscapes and scenes of forest and fire.
About 10 minutes in and the appearance of The Lord of the Dance happens, this particular night being played by Matt Smith, who goes on to brilliantly not only display his excellent dance technique but his command of his fellow dancers, and the end of his opening routine the Audience! Everyone clapped, but Matt wanted more, urging us to shout louder, clap louder, interact more. This we did whether it was by choice or his command. Matt showed a confident arrogance. He has clearly played this role out many a time. Sharing the lead role since being given his opportunity at only 18 years old, this Great Britain Championship, All Ireland, British National and multiple regional title holder was charisma personified. What an introduction we had to him as he led us into the next scene and later thorugh the scenes. However much this is a show about dancing, lets never forget the singing that appear in the show and by god has Sophie Evans ‘Erin the Goddess‘ in the show got a voice – putting into song the words that dances convey. We were transfixed not just on her beauty but the voice, the song. Next up on stage is Saoirse,the true love of our Lord after which the Dark Lord appeared with his crew of semi cyborg clad followers.
By now we have had our intro into the main characters and had multiple scenes of excellent toe tapping irish dancing. What exactly was the story line? I wasn’t entirely sure. This was the only disappointing aspect for me as well as the the flute and tapping which was dubbed to enhance the sound of their feet against the floor. (99% in synce with the dancers) and no doubt to let the efforts of our flutist to concentrate on her amazing gymnastic moves. The 1st half seemed to be a display of excellent song and dance amongst a backdrop of different scenery but no obvious links between the storyline other than it went from the good parts to the bad parts of this world and vice versa. We had seen 14 different scenes by the end of the 1st half which was approx an hour long. All fascinating to watch, Irish music listened to as we tapped our feet along. Surprised a few times even – by the show of sexiness, female dancers appearing in leather trousers and a bra, to the male dancers showing us their finally honed topless bodies. This show aimed to please and both male and female it did, occasionally hearing a cheer from the women when the make dancers took their top off. But did the lack of apparent linking or story matter? No. After every scene the audience clapped in appreciation of what these dancers were giving. We had also been treated to a few more beautiful songs, and to this point sadly i have neglected to mention Giada Cunningham and Nicole Lonergan who in their shiny dresses had the light bouncing off them playing on the fiddles. The stage was fixed on these two, as we watched upon every stroke.
*Possible spolier alert included* The second half improved with story line, i could understand what was happening. With a few dance offs between the good and the evil, Our hero Matt was in the process of saving the spirit from the Dark Lord, of which he did only to get himself caught in the process. The Dark Lord taking his belt, his power. Upon attempting to kill the Lord of the dance our Matt to our horror dies. But does he? With even more toe tapping, moving again from scene to scene, more scantily clad men and women, more singing from our goddess with the title song ‘Dangerous Games’ i felt like i understood the second half more and wouldn’t come out thinking what had happened or saying ‘I didn’t get that‘. Had good triumphed over evil? Had our lord survived and had the opportunity to be with his tue love? This you will have to see for yourself.
Overhearing people say ‘the story wasn’t as good as the original show’,’it wasn’t like that when we saw it before’, or ‘i cant believe they were half naked’, tells me this as i described at the start of this article that this was an older audience from a different generation, this a show brought to modern day relevance, bringing it to a younger crowd (although not tonights audience). Yes a bit of flesh was on show, but despite the odd comment these dancers got a cheer for showing it.
By the end of the show i was in awe of the cast, these seasoned dancers, no doubt cursed by injury and war wounds on the feet, but beautiful, sexy and a joy to watch. The story may have flagged a little but is that what we really want? Its not a film, we know this is a display of technique and skill. We came to see the dance and that masterclass is what we saw.
At the end. A standing ovation. What more is to be said. What more could we want?…..
….Well we on the giant screen we are then treated to a recorded Michael Flatley in 3 different guises of himself dancing side by side, all together then solo – reminding us that this is a genius. He may have to sit behind the scenes and create, direct and produce but that this guy could still do it. Michael is the guy that set a world record of 28 taps a second? How is that even possible??
Its a shame we don’t get to be graced with his presence or presence in the show itself but what a master he was, he is of irish dancing. For those that got to see him a living legend, for those who didn’t we can only look upon this recording and wish we had.
I mentioned Matt Smith – our hero, Our Fiddlers Giada & Nicole, Sophie Evans ‘The Voice‘ but as much as he wowed us, we have to shout out to the other cast and thank them for making the show it it truely is. Spectacular – every single one of the dancers in every form.
This was a review by Aaron Whittington of Nightoutinnnewcastle.co.uk
We have also launched a fantastic competition to win 2 tickets to the show!