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Review: Lord of the Dance at the Empire Theatre

'mesmerising interpretations'

James Keegan as Lord of the Dance(Image: Brian Doherty)

Ever since Riverdance exploded on to my TV screen during the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest I have been fascinated by Irish dancing and tried to watch it live where possible.

In response to a colleague asking did I not get bored of 'the same thing over again' my answer was a resounding no, although this was my second viewing of the tour Lord Of The Dance - Dangerous Games, which runs at the Liverpool Empire until Saturday, January 14, my first being the 2015 tour.

Celebrating 20 years since he debuted Lord of the Dance, Michael Flatley’s UK tour stars his protégés James Keegan, Morgan Comer and Mathew Smith in the role of the Lord of the Dance.

The show is produced, choreographed and directed by Michael Flatley and features new staging, cutting edge technology, new costumes and choreography, world champion acrobats and 40 of the world’s most outstanding young performers.

The opening night of the show in Liverpool saw James Keegan as the Lord of the Dance with Zoltan Papp as the Dark Lord.

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Amazingly, trained dancer Papp only took up Irish dancing at the age of 21 whereas Keegan started at the age of four.

Regardless of time served, both gave strong performances as the show's story emerges from the dreams of the Little Spirit in a classic tale of good versus evil.

A special mention must also go to the acrobatic performance of Jess Judge, as the Little Spirit, as well as vocalist Sophie Evans and talented fiddles Giada Costenaro Cunnigham and Nicole Lonergan who helped weave the story in between the dancing as well as providing top class entertainment.

Erin-Kate McIlravey and Andrea Kren provided mesmerising interpretations of lead roles Saoirse and Morrighan.

The format was the same as in 2015 with a video introduction by Flatley, featuring son Michael St James, giving a brief overview of the 20-year history of Lord of Dance and how it came to be before embarking on the stage show and ending with a video of three Flatleys performing various toe-tapping tricks before the stage finale.

I liked the repeated reference to the Lord of the Dance tune, despite the modern changes to the show, linking old and new nicely together.

Brightly-coloured background graphics helped highlight the mood and theme of each dance, continuing the good versus evil theme.

To be honest I didn't notice a huge difference between the 2015 tour and this one but one very welcome constant that remained was the high quality of the dancing on display.

The speed and skill of the dancers was breathtaking with the audience regularly clapping along in enjoyment.

It was enjoyment you could see and feel reciprocated by the dancers themselves and is something I, for one, will never tire of watching.

Lord of the Dance - Dangerous Games is on at the Liverpool Empire until Saturday, January 14. To book tickets, visit www.atgtickets.com .
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