Since Riverdance appeared as the Eurovision interval act in 1994, it became synonymous with Ireland and how the country was represented abroad. I had seen the show on video but never live and I was delighted when I was asked to go to the opening night of the summer season in The Gaiety.
When we think of Riverdance we think of a line of dancers across the front of the stage, tapping in time leading to a dramatic ending. However The Gaiety doesn’t have the size of a stage so I was wondering how it would pan out.
It’s taken me a while to write this purely because I wasn’t sure if I should but I have to be honest. The show just didn’t have me in awe like I thought it would. The size of the stage did obviously limit how many dancers were on stage but it didn’t take away from the high standard of dancing. While the audience were clapping and showing their appreciation, (a previous lead dancer sitting beside), there were little things in the production that didn’t sit comfortably with me.
This is a live show, I was expecting everything live, live vocals and live music. At times throughout the show, a screen at the back of the stage lifts so we can see musicians playing. The percussionist, Mark Alfred, is pretty impressive but we are hearing more music than we see on stage so it’s obviously a soundtrack. The production would get away with that except when it comes to the singing.
During Act 1 we are told of the magic and myth of Cuchulainn and this develops through music, dance and song. Maybe it’s my background in audio that gets things irking me. Things most people wouldn’t even notice. In my opinion, in a theatre show, a singer should sing and not be miming to a backing track. This immediately left me cold, add that to what seemed like extra foot taps in the soundtrack and the show becomes jaded. During Act 2 we are introduced to tap dancers and baritone soloist Michael E. Wood. His live vocals are so amazing, he overshadows everything else and easily fills the auditorium.
Maybe through time Riverdance has become Oirish but it seems to need a little update. I really enjoyed the tap dancing section of the show, it was current and seemed more relevant than Irish dancing steps and dramatic poses. It’s easy to see why this has done so well abroad but here isn’t it just dancing? I’ve love to see something happen bringing in more contemporary musical influences and styles. It’s 2011, I think we should leave ’94 where it is.
Riverdance at The Gaiety runs until August 28th Ticket prices range from 20-55. Tickets are available from Ticketmaster.ie and from The Gaiety box Office, 01 6771717