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Reworked Lord of the Dance falls slightly flat

Michael Flatley with Tom Cunningham as The Dark Lord in LORD OF THE DANCE - DANGEROUS GAMES A credit Brian Doherty

Michael Flatley is definitely conspicuous by his absence, but ensures his devotees continue to worship at his alter, in the reworked production of Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games.

Opening the show is a film of Flatley and his young son which leads into another short film narrated by the international showman, describing his career in detail, and the conception and development of Lord of the Dance. Eventually, the live performers took to the stage at the Opera House and were greeted with an almost religious fervour by fans of all ages.

There is no doubt at the skill, technical ability and sheer stamina required of the cast, and even critics of his shows have to give Flatley and his team kudos for taking traditional Irish dancing, and turning it into a world wide phenomenon, and the most successful dance show in history. However, there is a limit to how the same movements, albeit breathtakingly fleet of foot, can be repeated over and over again to slightly different variations of Irish themed music, before it becomes slightly tedious and predictable.

Set against a back drop of surprisingly average graphics, the story of good versus evil emerges from the dreams of Little Spirit, performed beautifully by the former competitive gymnast and acrobat, Jess Judge. The Lord of the Dance represents all that is good in the world and he must fight against evil in the form of the Dark Lord and his army of Dark Disciples. The battle scenes between the two Lords are amongst the showโ€™s highlights.

Seventeen year old Rachel Oโ€™Connor gave a confident performance as Erin the Goddess, despite slight pitching issues in her final song, and the two female fiddle players were hugely popular. However, twenty years on from the first showing of Lord of the Dance, it would have been refreshing and progressive to see a female dancer in a strong, leading role that isnโ€™t expressed through Flatleyโ€™s interpretation of brazen sexuality or virginal innocence, as well as dancing talent.

The costumes are stunning, although the robot design seemed to slightly hinder the dancers in one number, and it seemed unnecessary for the girls to reveal their sequinned bras from underneath their traditional Irish dresses, and the boys to dance topless, despite both being enthusiastically received by the audience.

Yet another film of Michael Flatley was shown before the encore, that was demanded by a standing ovation. Three versions of him, dancing in white tails, competed against each other, while the cast had chance for a breather before returning to the stage. The now iconic line of dancers performing in perfect synchronicity cannot fail to impress even the most cynical, with their energy and timing, and Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games does what it says on the tin for its millions of fans all over the world.

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