Rob Reviews "Riverdance: 20th Anniversary"
As I am getting older, I no less shocked when things that were created when I wore a younger man’s clothes celebrate milestones. In that vein, knowing that the international hit show “Riverdance” has completed its second decade of existence was kind of mind-blowing to me. Knowing it as a pop culture reference from “Friends” and standup specials from people like Denis Leary, it was something that I always kept at arm’s length, but when the opportunity to see it on it’s twentieth anniversary tour as it came to Dallas’ Winspear Opera House through March 25th, I was intrigued and took my place as part of its audience.
No longer fronted by Michael Flatley (although he is still listed as the Principal Irish Dance Choreographer), the show consists of not only traditional Irish folk dancing but also an international flavor from American tap dancing to flamenco and even a Russian sextet showing off their skills. With a full-on audio/visual presentation and a live band playing on-stage with vocalists, this show is nothing short of impressive. Split into two acts with a fifteen-minute intermission, there is great work by this entire cast. The choreography is dead-on and rhythmically tight, with all of the tap from the shoes seemingly in complete sync to the point that it ranks up there on the proverbial medal stand with the best of what we have seen in the number of years that we have been reviewing stage productions.
The band even gets a couple of moments during the production to show off their skills, which I truly enjoyed. Mark Alfred’s percussion work is greatness, Ceildh Briscoe plays the fiddle with the perfect amount of emotion to the point that it translates without any words, Emma Frampton’s saxophone work brings the fun (especially in the American Tap segment), and utility player Tara Howley rounds everything out by playing everything from a Concertina to the Tin Whistle masterfully. As a musician myself, I truly appreciated the opportunity given for what are normally seen as background players get their moment to shine, and they soak up every moment of it.
If you are one of those who hears “Riverdance” and rolls their eyes, I would tell you to rethink that plan. This show really does have something for everyone that appreciates dance, music, and just plain spectacle. As I looked around during the performance we attended, there were quite a few people that would not appear to be their target demographic that were clapping and cheering right along with the rest of us. Whether here in Dallas or anywhere this tour goes, make sure to check it out!