Left - Photo by Jack Hartin. Cover photo - Clark James Mishler
The Irish stepdancing phenomenon Riverdance is back in Australia for a final hurrah and I wasn’t the only one who didn’t want to miss out – I overheard a women in her early twenties behind me say she had wanted to see the act since she was ten.
The evening opened with a lilting Irish flute performance, taking the audience back to the Irish heritage we all wish we had. Then on came the dancers, arms by sides, legs flailing in perfect time, heads of silken hair twirling like fairy floss.
As to be expected, there were plenty of costume changes throughout the course of the program, with the women donned in peasant dresses, sparkly vests and pretty little slips while the men wore duo-tone silk shirts, leather pants, white suits and shiny vests.
Most of the dancers had a look of intense concentration, ensuring their taps were perfectly in unison. Not the lead male dancer Padraic Moyles, who had an incredible energy and ability to generate excitement. His foot tapping was mind-bogglingly fast and his look of glee was infectious. The lead female dancer, Maria Buffini, was beautifully light and looked like a woodland sprite.
One of the highlights for the evening was the a capella singing. The lead singer had the most crystal clear voice, perfectly suited to haunting Irish tunes and filled in with harmonies. We were also treated to solo acts from the drummer, bagpiper, saxophonist and violinist, who walked around the stage looking nonchalant while her fingers and arm played the most intricate melodies.
Through a voice-over and backdrop, the audience was also educated about the story of the Irish culture and immigration to America, starting with a primitive world and ending with a shared heritage and embracing life in new and unfamiliar cultures.
It was a medley of acts, with some seeming a little out of place in a Riverdance set, such as an African American opera singer and a Spanish flamenco dancer. I’m certainly not complaining though – the performances were visually dazzling and a treat for the eyes and ears.
Composed by Bill Whelan
Produced by Moya Doherty
Directed by John McColgan
Venue: Burswood Theatre
Dates: Tuesday 8 March to Sunday 13 March 2011
Times: Tuesday – Saturday 8pm; Wednesday 1pm; Saturday 2pm; Sunday 3pm (Performance times may be subject to change without notice)
Bookings: Ticketek 1300 795 012 | www.ticketek.com.au
Sydney, Capitol Theatre 18 – 27 March
Melbourne, Regent Theatre 30 March – 10 April
Brisbane, Lyric Theatre QPAC 12 April – 17 April