From serene pagan ceremony to furious sci-fi action, international choreographer Michael Flatley’s latest production, ‘Lord of the Dance – Dangerous Games,’ is a sparkling Las Vegas-style multi-media musical-dance feast for the senses.
An extension of his original, ‘Lord of the Dance,’ which has been enjoyed by millions of people worldwide over the last 20-plus years, this lavish production abounds with exciting visual spectacle, mesmerizing movement, an impressive collection of costumes and a classic ‘Evil versus Good’ storyline.
Full use is made of an array of vivid images pulsating from a full-stage screen, both dazzling and diverse, including flashing pyrotechnics, rainbows, dramatic cliffs, unicorns grazing in a field, and bubbling waves of molten lava.
The production begins intriguingly with a hologram of Flatley’s young son in a white suit trying to push a giant clock-hand towards midnight. He is joined by the well-known dancer himself who tips the clock to twelve. Then comes a booming voice and a brief announcement alluding to the overwhelming success of ‘Lord of the Dance,’ including a quote from Flatley, “If you believe in yourself and you are willing to work hard, then nothing is impossible.”
The story-line of the show is a relatively simple one. A cyborg-like Dark Lord played in a suitably aggressive manner by Zoltan Papp, and his band of menacing, black-uniformed Stormtroopers, steal the prized ‘Lord of the Dance’ belt from the hero, star of the show, Fergal Keaney. But with the help of a lithe pixie, played by talented gymnast-cum-contortionist, Jess Judge, dressed in an autumnal leaf-colored lycra body stocking, it is retrieved – a metaphor, some say, for the preservation of Ireland’s innocence.
Flatley is a master of showbiz, an experienced director who has transformed the rather predictable image of Irish traditional dancers, arms tight to their sides, into an extravagant on-stage pageant, a fusion of ballet, tap-dance and street, that simply oozes sensuality. At one juncture during ‘Lord of the Dance – Dangerous Games,’ not only do nubile dancers boldly peel off their tops to reveal themselves in a most delightful manner but – to be fair to all audience members – their male counterparts do the same – to spontaneous applause from an obviously appreciative audience at the Millennium in Derry.
Extending the show’s overarching sensual nature, sexy character, Morrighan the Seductress in the guise of dark-haired beauty, Andrea Kren, tries to wrest the devotion of our fine hero from his blonde-haired sweetheart, Saoirse (Nikita Cassidy).
Full praise to the show’s costume designer who has produced innovative creations, ranging from soft, chiffon dresses to stark, threatening Darth Vader-style ensembles.
Composer Gerard Fahy has created a blend of melodies that help create the appropriate mood swings, from heavy pounding power beats for marauding cyborgs to the refined elegance of the step-dancers.
In many ways, this production is akin to a spectacular aka Cirque de Soleil variety show, with one’s full attention harnessed by the sheer vibrancy and intricacy of the choreography.
Such sequences as ‘Warlords,’ ‘Dark Lord,’ ‘Hell’s Kitchen,’ ‘Nightmare,’ and ‘The Duel’ hint at the show’s dramatic elements.
Credit goes to fiddle-playing duet, Giada Costenaro Cunningham and Nicole Lonergan. Not only are they skillful instrumentalists but they dance in high-heels while playing. No easy challenge.
A light-hearted and beguiling Gene Kelly-like finale focuses on the maestro himself, an entertaining video of Flatley in triple, each image of himself challenge-dancing the other. Some critics have called this immodest, I disagree. Flatley’s immense success including ‘Riverdance,’ ‘Feet of Flames,’ and ‘Celtic Tiger’ over several decades has undoubtedly earned him, at the very least, the right to enjoy a little self-praise and a bit of fun.