“Riverdance bids Farewell to Chicago”
By Christian Scalise
One of the longest running productions, the musical phenomenon known as Riverdance, opened tonight at the beautiful Oriental Theatre for its final eight performances in Chicago (March 13th-18th) before closing the US version of the tour on June 17th, 2012 in Vienna, VA.
After fifteen years of having great success and sold-out performances, it is hard to imagine that the production will bid farewell to American audiences once and for all. Like everything that has a season in show business, I predict that after this current show closes, another one will evolve eventually and bring forth inspiration for new dance numbers and music.
Riverdance is composed by Bill Whelan, produced by Moya Doherty and directed by John McColgan, the production stars principal dancers, Caterina Coyne, James Greenan, Alana Mallon, Padraic, Jason O’Neill and Chloey Turner.
The show began promptly at 7:30pm opening with “Reel Around The Sun,” “The Heart’s Cry,” “The Countess Cathleen” and “Caoineadth Chu Chulainn (Lament).” The blend of various types of dance styles such as Timedance and Flamenco, A Capella singing and Irish music flawlessly carried the theme of the show throughout the entire evening.
The precise order of synchronized dance routines by the entire cast of dancers left audience members in complete awe. Each performer exhibited excellence and passion onstage which immediately received applause and a series of cheers from the smitten crowd.
The costumes of the evening ranged from Renaissance inspired attire to traditional outfits known to Ireland including a few fairy-inspired additions for the leading ladies. The men wore black dress slacks and shimmery button down shirts. The unique costumes complimented the various forms of dance that were brought to life through the music.
The low whistles, frame drums (Bodhrán), fiddle, flute, saxophone, and uillean pipe were skillfully played by the musicians yet I couldn’t help but wonder why a show with such stature severely lacked in having a full band.
Hearing the melodic sounds of the low whistle, fiddle, uillean pipe, and frame drums took my mind and spirit on a sensual voyage into the heartland of Ireland, the majestic country that takes great pride in their heritage and breathtaking countryside.
The only thing that I believe Riverdance should improve upon is the production quality of their show. Never having seen the production before, I envisioned a world class extravaganza with state of the art video projection, a full orchestra, set changes, additional vocalists and choir ensembles.
The show lacked all of that, not to mention the series of imagery on the video screen appeared so amateur and dated. For having performed over 10,000 shows since 1996, I would have assumed that Riverdance could at least modernize their set and update the technology of the lighting, sound and video.
There isn’t much time left to catch the show here in Chicago, but if you’re looking for a fun and festive way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, then Riverdance is the show for you! Just don’t expect much from the visual department. What the show does offer is world-renowned dancers and sensational music!!
Thanks again to Broadway in Chicago and Korshak Inc!
Catch Riverdance at the Oriental Theatre until March 18th, 2012. You may purchase tickets here: http://tinyurl.com/8ax6yts