LORD OF THE DANCE: DANGEROUS GAMES
Palace Theatre, Manchester
Until Saturday 15th April, 2017
Having first shot to fame almost overnight with his lead performance in the original Riverdance production, first staged during the strict seven-minute interval of the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest in Dublin (a show he also devised and choreographed), the now world-renowned Michael Flatley left the show just one year later citing conflicts over creative control, setting to work on his dream of constructing a dance show capable of playing arenas and larger venues instead of traditional theatres.
Over two decades later, and having sold-out arenas and stadiums across the globe in its various incarnations – including a record-setting 21 consecutive sell-out shows at Wembley Arena back in 1998 – the world’s most successful dance production, Lord of the Dance, now returns to the UK with its 20th Anniversary production, Dangerous Games, which premiered at the vast London Palladium back in 2014.
Emerging from the dreams of the Little Spirit, Dangerous Games is the familiar tale of good versus evil, with The Lord of the Dance himself pitted against the villainous Dark Lord and his army of Mad Max-style Dark Disciples, with Morrighan the Seductress and various Goddesses further complicating the mix.
A transcendent piece, heavily stepped in Celtic tradition, Dangerous Games feels like something of a Greatest Hits show, combining the strongest aspects of Flatley’s various productions with a fresh new staging, featuring new music, design and choreography, adding more of a contemporary flair to the piece.
One of the problems Flatley has always faced is in expanding what is effectively a half-time entertainment show into a full scale stage spectacular, and although the variety show style works very well, the choreography can become a little repetitive on occasion. The complexity and technical requirements of the show of course speak for themselves and the near 40-strong ensemble tackle the various demands with apparent ease, though microphone issues do sadly affect vocalist Sophie Evans, who is often lost in the volume of the music.
A worthy successor to Flatley himself – a man who almost single-handedly put Irish dancing on the map – Manchester-born James Keegan is exceptional in the central role of The Lord, a supremely gifted dancer, closely channeling Flatley’s signature style with a flawless display of confidence, charisma and artistry.
Standout performances from Zoltan Papp as the Dark Lord, Jess Judge as the Little Spirit and virtuoso fiddlers Giada Costenaro Cunningham and Nicole Lonergan, amongst many, many others render Dangerous Games a hugely impressive feat of skill, allure and a mastery of the craft.
A bare stage, accompanied only by immersive video designs and atmospheric lighting, is all that Dangerous Games requires, putting the superlative dancing and Gerard Fahy’s celebrated compositions very much at the fore.
Running Time: 2 hours and 10-minutes (approx.) (including one 20-minute interval)
Final Performance at the Palace Theatre, Manchester: Saturday 15th April, 2017
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