The minstrel boy to the war has gone. Twenty years ago, “Riverdance” took Irish music and dance and made it thunder with military precision. The drums, pipes, fiddles, rock star lighting, clouds of smoke and dry ice, and leather-clad dancers took the world by storm. They spawned a number of knock-off acts, all loud and successful. It also led to more high-wattage fiddling and power Irish dancing. Clearly, the show tapped into something primal and universal.
After taking other continents by storm, the 20th Anniversary World Tour is heading our way. The tour is beginning a coast-to-coast North American marathon of over 60 cities. New costumes, lighting and projections are on tap, and so is a brand-new number called “Anna Livia,” featuring the female members of the Irish dance troupe singing a cappella and doing the hard-shoe.
The show succeeds, word has it, in part by reinventing itself. Reportedly, it ramps up its international appeal by pitting the Irish dancers against dancers from other traditions – acrobatic Russian dancers, for instance, and an African-American couple, and dancers with classical ballet moves. A reviewer in San Jose, Calif., gave the new creation thumbs up, writing, “While Irish dancing is no longer novel to most Americans, the beauty of Riverdance remains timeless.”
“Riverdance – The 20th Anniversary World Tour” takes the stage at 7:30 p.m. May 31 to June 2 in Shea’s Performing Arts Center (646 Main St.) Performances are 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $30-$70. Call (800) 745-3000, or visit ticketmaster.com, or visit the Shea’s box office.
– Mary Kunz Goldman