Lord of The Dance – 25th Anniversary Review

New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham – until 19th June 2022

Reviewed by Emma Millward 


‘Lord of The Dance’ and Michael Flatley are celebrating their 25th anniversary in style with a newly choreographed show. It’s been seen by over 60 million people in 60 different countries and remains one of the most successful dance shows ever. It has broken box office records all over the world and continues to keep drawing crowds in. Although Flatley doesn’t appear in person, he appears throughout on the big screen backdrop. He starts the show off by telling the audience of how ‘Lord of the Dance’ came about after a dream he had and what drove him to create the show. 

The show begins quietly with hooded dancers gradually appearing one by one on stage holding brightly glowing orbs and we are introduced to ‘The Little Spirit’ (played by the brilliant Cassidy Ludwig) who quickly became myself and my daughter’s favourite. She is a petite and cheeky character who definitely grabs your attention. She plays the first of many appearances of the ‘Lord of the Dance’ tune on her magic flute which awakens the dancers on stage and we are pulled into a magical world helped greatly by the beautiful landscapes that appear on the big screen backdrop.

The story is a classic ‘good versus evil’ one, The Lord of The Dance (played in this performance by Cathal Keaney) must fight against the evil Dark Lord (Alasdair Spencer) and his army of Warriors, who were very much like a biker gang all clad in leather. Morrighan the Temptress (Andrea Papp Kren) tries to steal the Lord of the Dance away from his true love Saoirse (Niamh Shevlin) and ultimately takes his belt to give to the Dark Lord. Although the Dark Lord and his Warriors dancing was of course, amazing, they drew boos and hisses from the audience, which began to feel a little bit ‘Pantomime’ at times! But the dance: fighting set pieces were still exciting to watch and the music (composed by Gerard Fahy) really added to the atmospheric and threatening feel of these moments. Cathal Keaney definitely wowed the audience and drew lots of applause and cheers. 

The whole ensemble works really well together and the synchronicity in the routines really highlights this. Special mention should be given to Aisling Sage and Megan McGinley, who performed live Violin/Fiddle duets throughout the show, also Celyn Cartwright as Erin the Goddess, whose songs appeared throughout and added to the storytelling. The outfits during the show were beautiful, often intricate and extremely sparkly. The skimpier outfits drew wolf whistles and cheers from the crowd, especially when the male dancers removed their vests. The Lord of the Dance’s glittery ‘wrestling style’ belt was definitely a sight to behold when the stage lights bounced off it!

The backdrop reminded us throughout that it has been ‘25 years of Standing Ovations’ and this was definitely the case at this performance with the crowd getting straight to their feet for the final dances. The final moments were dedicated to the main man himself, Michael Flatley was projected onto the big screen again, actually three versions of him to be precise, all trying to ‘out-dance’ each other. This was a slightly extravagant and very fitting end to a show that kept the audience mesmerised from start to finish. Whether you are huge fan of Irish dancing or a complete newcomer to it, there was something for everyone and there will definitely be another 25 years of standing ovations to come.