Contrary to popular belief, “Lord of the Dance” is not about a tap-off between Frodo and Gandalf for the Middle Earth jig championship.
Rather, “Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance” is a world-famous Irish folk dance show. You may remember the show from its reference on “Friends” as the phenomenon that scares the “be-Jesus” out of Chandler Bing.
Unfortunately, Michael Flatley, original creator and star of the show, does not appear in the touring production. His presence and grace is greatly missed in the production. The show, however, retains his name in the title despite his absence.
The show features dancing set to a melodramatic, mythological plot.
One word can describe this production: amplified. The show does not feature live music; rather it offers pre-recorded music and sounds that are blasted at full volume.
Determining whether the singer is actually singing, the musician is really playing her flute and if the tap-dance sounds you’re hearing are actually coming from the dancers’ feet is a daunting challenge. The set looks like it came from a high school production of “Pippin,” featuring heavy strobe lights and smoke machines.
The show is pretty high on itself. In the beginning, a voice describes it as “the world’s greatest dance show.” The audience is also subject to numerous extravagant bows throughout the performance.
One of the more random points of the show includes a small woman pretending to play a flute. It’s one of those moments when you stare dumbfounded at what is actually going on before your eyes.
At another point, all the men wear black masks and camouflage jeans. It looks like a Nintendo game filled with jumping, very excited army men.
The show’s greatest moments, without a doubt, consist of the ensemble’s wild Irish footwork. Featured repeatedly on television, this is the show’s focus point and most spectacular quality.
During these moments, the dancers look excited and full of energy, leaving much of the audience breathless. Other moments, including songs and random performance art, seem dull and tired.
This production is likable and enjoyable, but not necessarily, dare I say, “spectacular.” Not disappointing, but rather limited.
This show defines what production teams like to think of as mass audience entertainment. It’s basically visual candy with no intellectuality. It takes Irish folk dance and amplifies it, literally and figuratively, for a large-scale audience. I would recommend seeing the show from as far away as possible.
There is a very visible difference between “Lord” and other famous dance shows, such as “Bring In ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk” and “A Chorus Line.” These shows celebrate dance as an art and cultural institution. “Lord,” however, is one-dimensional and lacks heart. It is more intent on wowing the audience with jumpy choreography than celebrating Irish folk dance as a social institution.
“Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance” is playing through Sunday at the Warner Theatre, 1299 Pennsylvania Ave. Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 and 7 p.m.