Hull New Theatre – until 12th May 2022
Reviewed by Catherine McWilliams
Michael Flatley’s Lord Of The Dance is celebrating its 25th year, with a young cast many of whom will have been toddlers or not even born when it was first staged in Dublin. Lord Of The Dance is Michael Flatley’s “brainchild”, his celebration of Irish dance and culture with music composed by Gerard Fahy. It is a tale of good versus evil, dreamed by Little Spirit (Cassidy Ludwig), in which the Lord of the Dance (Matt Smith) must fight against the Dark Lord (Zoltan Papp), and of course the Lord of the Dance triumphs.
Matt Smith was the classic hero as the Lord of the Dance. He is an extremely skilful dancer and was a delight to watch, at times his feet moved so fast across the floor that they blurred! The entire cast is full of the most tremendous dancers, an incredibly talented group and it was the ensemble pieces that were the stand out dances in the performance. The sound of the shoes on the stage is mesmeric and this was particularly the case when the men danced alone with no music, a simply stunning performance.
Two fiddle players Gida Costenaro and Aisling Sage added to the joy of the piece with their fast and furious playing of traditional Irish music. It was wonderful to see the dancers on stage dancing to this live music. Celyn Cartwright was Erin the Goddess giving voice to the sentiments expressed in the dance. She has a beautiful singing voice with wonderful tones.
Michael Flatley was also present in the theatre in the form of backdrop videos of performances and him talking about Irish dance and his career. However, I found the backdrop videos playing in the final number to be a distraction from the wonderful dancing that was taking place on stage.
In its 25th year I do feel that Lord Of The Dance may be showing its age, times have moved on. I was very disappointed that the female dancers, who are clearly immensely talented are not given a proper showcase, they appeared to be on stage to look pretty and very much played second fiddle to the men. I also question why it was necessary for them to strip off their dresses on stage and then dance in skimpy halter necks and short shorts, this added nothing to the storyline or merit of the performance. I should also add that the backing music used was at times excessively loud and my ears are still ringing today.
What Lord Of The Dance does best is traditional Irish music and dance and this was a total delight to watch, the audience gave the performers a standing ovation at the end of the show. If you love Irish music and dance then there is no doubt you will love Lord Of The Dance.