‘Riverdance’ transfixes as a visual stunner!
|Moya Doherty i/a/w Broadway in Chicago presents|
Review by Katy Walsh
I’ve always celebrated St. Patrick’s Day. I’m Irish but who isn’t in March? Chicago knows how to celebrate our Irish roots. We dye the river green. We throw *two* parades. And every bar turns Irish pub for March 17th and/or the Saturday before/after. Even as my friends get older, we still love to get out in that revelry! But as we age, it’s not about waiting in line for the best bash, it’s about selecting a place where we can sit and watch some Irish dancing.
Broadway in Chicago presents Riverdance for a limited and finale performance. After 15 years of production, 10,000 performances, 14,000 dance shoes, Riverdance will close forever on June 12, 2012. Chicago is one of the final stops on its three year farewell tour. Having only seen glimpses of it on television, I was excited to finally experience the phenomena before its reign ended. Riverdance transfixes as a visual stunner! The riversinging, riverfiddling, rivertheatrics… not so much.
At it’s very best, Riverdance has one, two, eight or twenty-four dancers kicking it up on the stage. Their primary movements are a cross between ballet and tap… with the tap more of a clomp. The synchronized stiff body action looks effortless and amazing. Watching a soloist break out and glide across the floor is mesmerizing. The dancer looks to be gracefully running but instead of kicking legs backwards, he is kicking legs frontward. The illusion is spectacularly grand! But unfortunately, the dancing is only about 1/3 of the show.
Riverdance splits performance time like a television variety show. The dancing showcases extraordinary feats of physicality. And then it halts. Choral-like singing or fiddling take the spotlight with equal timeslots. These segments are perfectly good in their performances but I came for “RiverDANCING.” These intermittent moments kill my dance buzz. They also feel a little dated and contrived. It doesn’t help that a voiceover narration regularly interjects a description of nature. The audio is accompanied by dry ice smoke and a visual backdrop. The dramatics are less new-age-wondrous and more theatrical-silly. Bring back the dancers!
Riverdance has been seen live by 22 million people plus one! I’m glad I had the opportunity to see these legendary dancers. The experience was unforgettable. I just wasn’t so keen on the other show counterparts. But I guess it’s like St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago – I might have to wait in a line or put up with drunk buffoonery to see Irish dancers. And the dancers will always be the most memorable part of the celebration.
Riverdance continues through March 18th at Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph (map). Tickets are $30-$85, and are available by phone (800-775-2000) or online at TicketMaster.com (check for half-price tickets at Goldstar.com). More information at Riverdance.com (Running time: 2 hours, includes an intermission)
Photos by Jack Hartin
Caterina Coyne, Alana Mallon, Chloey Turner, James Greenan, Padraic Moyles, Jason O’Neill (principal dancers); Maeve Croke (dance captain); Jessica Baffa, Patrick Barnett, Stephen Brennan, Shane Cummins, Maggie Darlington, Nicola Dempsey, Aisling Drennan, Maeve Fearon, John Grimes, Billy Kanaly, James Keating, Fiona McCabe, Nicole McKeever, Niamh O’Connor, Andrew O’Reilly, Brian Shinners, Lauren Smyth, Kincaid Stringer (Irish dance troupe); Marita Martinez-Rey (flamenco); Michael E. Wood (freedom soloist); Michael E. Wood, Jason E. Bernard (tappers)
behind the scenes
Bill Whelan (composer); Moya Doherty (producer); John McColgan (director); Julian Erskine (senior executive producer); Robert Ballagh (set design); Joan Bergin (costumes); Michael O’Gorman (sound designer); Benjamin Pearcy (lighting); Jack Hartin (photos)
3words: From the same Waterford County clan, my cousin Jenny describes it with ‘loved the dancing.’