'Lord of the Dance' is a worldwide phenomenon, and one which I must admit I have never been apart of. Led by the original star of 'Riverdance', Michael Flatley, this breakaway Irish dance spectacular is the biggest grossing tour in the history of entertainment, and has been seen by 60 million people in 60 different countries on every continent. This new incarnation at the London Palladium threatens to be Flatley's final West End performance, and all the stops are pulled out to deliver an entertaining evening of undeniable talent.
It's a show that reeks with self indulgence. Flatley treats himself like a Michael Jackson-esque King, and is greeted by an appropriate reception from the crowd. From the opening sequence which hammers home his success through projections that may as well just include his most recent bank statement, to the encore hologram where three Flatley's dance alongside each other - this is a 'love-in' of epic proportions.
When you have the 'Feet of Flames' perhaps this doesn't matter. The crowd scream for him like a rock star. His much anticipated appearance doesn't come until late in the second act, with most of the production left in the more than capable hands of his protégé James Keegan.
The cast are each more beautiful than the next. The perfectly balanced ensemble of blondes and brunette females (can you guess which ones end up as the 'baddies?') strip to their sequin bras whilst tap-shuffling, showing perhaps a different reason why the show has been so successful around the globe. Their collective talent is undeniable, and there are moments where your jaw is in your lap watching their feet move almost as fast as sound itself.
Like a variety show, the acts are diverse (if repetitive) but manage to hold attention due to their frequent costume changes and projections that portray Ireland as an Idyllic land filled with Unicorns and rainbows. The plot, which would make a Pantomime seem like Hamlet, follows a little Spirit with a magic flute who battles against evil to save Ireland from being taken over by Dr Who-esque cyborgs. Obviously. Along the way the Spirit meets different dancers as well as a Black Swan like love triangle that threatens to turn the head of Ireland's saviour, the Lord of the Dance himself.
You can't help but smile when the full ensemble, arms strapped to their side, fill the width of the Palladium and their legs "flail about as if independent from their body" (to quote the ever profound Chandler Bing). The show's strength will always be their iconic 'Lord of the Dance', and the skill of the cast is first rate, disciplined and fully entertaining.
Derry's finest Nadine Coyle (the talented one from 'Girls Aloud') provides welcome relief as The Goddess Erin, the singer used to cover costume changes. She manages to hold the vast Palladium stage on her own, belting the show's title track as well as some airy Celtic rock dressed in head-to-toe sequins. She proves why she was the lead vocalist for her former girl group, and is in her element delivering big numbers.
If you're a fan of this franchise, this will no doubt be a 5-star evening of entertainment. Whilst I'd certainly say it's something everyone should experience once in their lifetime. Much like Las Vegas - better when you've had a drink and you sit back and don't ask too many questions.
"Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games is very much like other Flatley shows, except that he has, Woody Allen-style, passed on the central role to be shared among three young Lordlings. On the opening night, James Keegan took the lead: hugely impressively."
Laura Thompson for Daily Telegraph
External links to full reviews from popular press