LORD OF THE DANCE: DANGEROUS GAMES
18/08/2015 - 23/08/2015
25/08/2015 - 30/08/2015
“Magnificent” – Evening Standard, London
“Stunning” – The Irish Times
“Extraordinary” – The Telegraph, London
“A Show Piece Extravaganza” – LA Times
The world’s most successful dance show explodes onto the New Zealand stage this August with a spectacular new staging of Michael Flatley’s masterpiece – Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games. The theatrical extravaganza opens in Auckland on 18 August followed by Wellington on 25 August. Tickets will be on sale from 22 May.
Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games enjoyed a sell-out season in London’s West End last year, returning to The Dominion Theatre in March 2015 due to overwhelming popular demand. This international production comes to New Zealand as part of a 15 country-tour, following an extensive UK tour.
Michael Flatley brought Irish Dance into the global spotlight more than 21 years ago, going on to create Lord of the Dance in 1996. Since then his name and the Lord of the Dance brand have become synonymous with spectacular artistry and grand scale productions that have mesmerized more than 60 million people in 68 countries around the world.
Flatley’s new show Dangerous Games has exciting and ground-breaking new technology, including holographs, dancing robots, world champion acrobats, and 34 of the greatest Irish Dancers in the world. A new score composed by Gerard Fahy, new choreography, stunning new costumes and special effect lighting add a breath-taking new dimension to the original masterpiece.
Lord of the Dance captivates audiences with its mesmerising dance styles rooted in the traditional form of Irish dance that has evolved over more than 2,000 years. The story is a classic tale of good vs evil based on old Irish folklore, as well as a passionate love story expressed through dance.
This latest version of the global dance phenomenon combines the best of tradition with all the excitement of new music and heart-stopping dance, making it perfect family entertainment.
Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games is created, directed and choreographed by Michael Flatley and is produced in Australia by Lunchbox Theatrical Productions and Base Entertainment Asia.
“your jaw is in your lap watching their feet move almost as fast as sound itself.” – LondonTheatre.co.uk
“Fascinating, rewarding & above all entertaining” – New York Post
“An awesome sight” – The Hollywood Reporter
“A 5-star evening of entertainment.” – LondonTheatre.co.uk
- From: $79.00
- Buy Tickets – 0800 111999
Additional fees may apply
Spectacle , Family , Dance ,
Production elements dazzle
Review by Lyne Pringle 27th Aug 2015
The Lord of the Dance phenomena began in 1996 and much has been written about this worldwide sensation. Michael Flatley, the creative ‘genius’ behind it all, drills us via voice-over and projection about the ethos that has driven his success in what feels like a drenched-in-hype trailer for a movie. Flatley having made his ‘last’ appearance in July at the London Palladium is not joining the production for this Antipodean Tour.
A fantastical world is created through the enormous video screens that project ever-changing colour saturated imagery throughout the evening – Walt Disney eat your heart out. To give you a taste of the milieu, in Flatley’s fantasy willow-shaped girls show off their cleavages and waggle their hips, in softened jig sequences; all the while unicorns and butterflies frolic on screen. The boys practice their mannish routines and flex big biceps. Serious Celtic type military symbols flash up, they are tough and precise.
Pseudo-Celtic rituals are juxtaposed against a projected baddie and we know we are in for a battle between good and evil. This story is conjured charmingly by Little Spirit (Jess Judge) whose theme song is the classic Lord of the Dance hymn with words. She mimes playing this on her silver flute – a lot.
I have a huge problem with the sexism of the piece but equally appreciate the chance to ogle the abdominal six pack of the hero. Then I remind myself that this production (or one of the many incarnations) has been playing in Las Vegas for five years: ‘sex sells’ is reinforced but I cheer with the rest of the crowd the boys whip off their shirts. Another problem is the complete lack of any dramatic tension and the dearth of choreographic invention bordering on creative laziness, as if all the energy has gone into the production elements away from the dance and the performance.
At times there is dynamic use of space, and the lead Lord (Morgan Comer or Cathal Keaney) exhibits fantastic breadth in his arms and skill in his beats in the classic style. The baddie The Dark Lord (Tom Cunningham or Zoltan Papp) is suitably menacing with his cohort in Mad Max type garb.
Erin Saoirse dances with whimsical charm. Her taut tanned naval and bouncy bosoms are a feature of her solos. The seductress Morrighan is danced by Andrea Kren is suitably – well, seductive. It is good to remind myself that these dancers are champions of the traditional form. There is a distinctive way that the body is held in Irish dance – the weight thrown back and the arms an adjunct to the rest of the body and pronounced focus on a small range of leg moves, including the obligatory high kicks and high leaps with one leg forward and one leg bend like a bow taut before firing.
There are a couple of awesome fiddlers, Giada Costenaro Cunningham and Eimear Reilly who belt out toe-tapping tunes in killer heels and very short glittery dresses. Rachael O’Connor is a singing Erin the Goddess but the sound is muddy and it is hard to catch her drift – great costumes for her though.
In the interval I ask my Mum, who has flown up from Dunedin especially for the performance ,what she thinks. ‘The story doesn’t matter,” she says. “It is just dance; magnificent dancing though – really professional, mind boggling, just amazing.’ She represents the response of the majority of people in the house.
Second half. I will suspend my judgement and critical eye, stop asking why these series of clichés are being trotted out. By the end of the evening, we are all booing the baddie and cheering the goodie in old fashioned pantomimic tradition. It is fun.
Two scenes are the most successful – when the bad boy chorus meet the good boy chorus in a kind of West Side Story meets the Irish in a dance-off. And the final curtain call – after Michael Flatley is projected holographic-ally to tantalize us with his virtuosity – where the whole chorus are dressed in tuxedos and dance in the more traditional way. Rhythms and passion are unleashed as the immensely percussive, precise beats of these generous performers fill the auditorium; pure dance, pure energy, pure skill and power. You can’t beat that. The crowd is happy to be milked.
I allow myself to be swept along by this meaningless entertainment from shores far away and go where Michael Flatley in his creative journey– with a bit of help from his associate choreographer Marie Duffy Pask – has chosen to take these traditional dance forms. ‘I am the Lord of the Dance said he and I will lead you all wherever you may be and I will lead you all in the dance said he.’ Michael Flatley that is.
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Yet another incarnation of grand scale Irish dance
Review by Kate Ward-Smythe 20th Aug 2015
Much hype surrounds Michael Flatley’s latest incarnation of his incredibly successful two-decade run of modernising Irish Dance and fusing that vision with contemporary styles and popular culture. The man’s brave and brazen self-belief, ambition and desire for spectacle, leave no room for commercial failure. He’s has had an undeniable influence at box offices all over the world and that is to be hugely admired and respected.
The challenge he faces, like any global creator on a dream run, is to outdo the last version of his work: make the next one be bigger, bolder, brighter. But is better?
Having seen many large scale productions with a backbone of Irish Dance, I’m left wondering that despite the grand scale of Dangerous Games; the high production values and extravagant ‘bell and whistles’ thrown in, such as: colour saturated AV imagery; huge lighting rig; large array of costume changes and styles; thumping music track and fiery special effects… in amongst it all, is there innovative artistry?
While all the ‘E-words’ mentioned in the press release are true: Dangerous Games is “Extraordinary,” an “Extravaganza,” “Entertaining” and “Explosive”; the spectacle is also burdened with heavy cliché and generic imagery, as we dance to the predictable conclusion, where good prevails over evil and love conquers all.
At times the stage seems a mash-up of copycat ideas and current pop-culture. Aspects of the journey are plucked straight from the Cirque Du Soleil style of story telling; while others borrow much from Michael Jackson’s live version of “They Don’t Care About Us”; as well as George Lucas’ Storm troopers and the tripods from “War Of The Worlds”. More than once I feel like I’m watching video game rather than a theatre. The clip of the Dark Lord’s face includes his best Hannibal Lector impersonation; plus there’s more than one Usain-Lighting-Bolt pose during the night.
Near the start of the night, for a moment I think I might be watching trailers before a movie, as there’s a thumping AV sequence which can only be described as an advertisement for the show’s creator, producer, director and choreographer. However, promoting his brand wherever there is a captive audience reinforces what has made this man such a commercial success.
The production values and execution, as mentioned, are excellent: The audio track of composer Gerard Fahey’s accessible and well-played score is full and crisp (Wigwam Acoustics Limited – Craig Burns). The lighting rig is modern and the design is sharp (Paul Normandale), as are the follow-spot operators. While the vibrant colour saturated AV sequences are impressive in size and scale (JA Digital), some of the content (JA Digital and Fractured Pictures) borders on corny, with butterflies, waterfalls and rainbows alongside flying fish and unicorns, to depict all things bright and beautiful. Of course AV images of fire and brimstone; desolate lands and volcanic explosions take over, whenever the Dark Lord rises.
Flatley shares the choreography credit with Dance Director and Associate Choreographer, Marie Duffy Pask. For the most part, the company, small group and solo numbers, are wonderful, with all the trademark moves audiences have come to love, often with a modern twist. The exception would have to be the awkward clunky ‘robot-hip-hop-dance’ in the second half. Some genres just don’t blend in well when there’s already a kaleidoscope of ideas and images in the mix.
Costume Consultant Christopher Woods has designed an intriguing mix. Much of the ladies’ dresses are the expected tulle and sequins. By comparison, his Arabian Nights inspired harem pants and hoodies are a nice twist. However, one company number near the end is a confusing mash-up of styles, with tie-died pants and sleeveless puffer jackets for the men, while the women dance in sports-wear and jazz pants, framed by the dueling fiddle players who are in sparkly cocktail dresses and stilettos. The ill-fitting suits in the finale line are unflattering and are in no way a better replacement for the elegant traditional Irish dresses. Many of the choreographed costume highlights ironically involve taking clothes off. Interestingly, when the new Lord Of The Dance (Morgan Comer) and his band of Chieftains appear bare-chested, there’s a roar of approval from the audience. By comparison, when the women rip their Irish dresses off and dance in bras, nickers and sheer stockings, the response is not so enthusiastic. It certainly did look more Show Girls from Fort Street than family show for a moment.
However, all is forgotten and forgiven, every time the full company emerge in their hard black shoes and attack the floor with the rhythm and energy that has made this genre a global phenomenon. Just as they have in previous shows, it is these loud full company moments that remain the absolute highlight of the night. When they perform as a company, this cast is uniformly as dynamic and talented, as any other I’ve seen.
I very much hope Michael Flatley’s next extravaganza circles back to where his journey and love of Irish dance first began.
Finally, at the start of the show, courtesy of modern technology and a hologram, there’s a cameo appearance not only of MF himself, but I assume, his son: Michael St James Flatley junior. So on that note: here’s a fresh perspective of Dangerous Games, from a younger generation: 11-year-old Ella, unlike her over-analytical Mother, has never seen Irish Dance on a scale like this before. I’ll sign off with her comments made during and after the show:
“The noisy shoes make the vibe sensational. The dancing is awesome”.
“I really like the fight sequences because of the way they show conflict through dance. My Favourite characters are the bad Lord and the bad girl because they are the most interesting to watch”.
“I don’t know why the men keep doing push-ups in the dance. Why did they do that? Show offs”.
“Is this live”?
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Riverdance reinvented and upscaled
Review by Janet Whittington 20th Aug 2015
Just as Michael Flatley reinvented Irish dance with Riverdance at the Eurovision song contest in 1994, New Zealand watches Riverdance reinvented as Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games live at the Civic. Irish Dance is no longer just a dance. It is a show.
The first of the multiple shows on stage is the magnificent screen, covering the entire back wall of the stage. Used to great effect to show a series of custom designed, imagined scenes to complement the action on stage and help with the story line. Michael Flatley appears in 2D with a child version of himself to open the show by pushing time forward on an oversized old clock, along with Flatley’s by-line for his life; “Nothing is impossible – follow your dreams”.
The male lead, Morgan Comer as Lord of the Dance bursts on stage to open the Dance to an equal burst of applause from the audience. For the next two hours we are blasted by the extent of Flatley’s dreams. The audience is overwhelmed with sound, light and visual extravaganza that complements the dancing. This show is more like a modern rock concert than a traditional dance or ballet. This show concept is familiar to the younger audience, and a surprise to the older patrons.
Each dance sequence runs for 10 minutes with breaks in between covered by screen vignettes, fiddle duets by Giada Costenaro Cunningham and Einear Reilly, three songs fabulously rocked out by Rachael O’Connor, and spritely double jointed Jess Judge stealing the show in amongst the others.
Comer and The Dark Lord, danced by Tom Cunningham, display the dangerous game between them with two excellent duels. The Lord of the Dance first appears more technical and skilled with his footwork and tap, while the Dark Lord is augmented with menacing additional percussion from the band, then both dance equally difficult and speedy rhythms. A clever way to express their changing dominance. All of it highly energetic and skilled. As one man commented at half time “I’m exhausted just watching them, but really enjoying it.”
The dancing is different from the original Riverdance. There is much more movement in the upper body, arms used to express the emotion while the feet move in dazzling traditional and modern Irish dance moves. However, the familiar traditional Riverdance line-ups do frame the beginning and end of the show.
The costume changes reflect the rise in fortunes for the dance troupe, with a dozen or more lovely outfits for all. The women have a variety of colours and themes ranging from traditional to sexy and back to the 1940’s or Barbie doll style depending on your taste. Frothy pink chiffon short dresses covered in sequins are exchanged for traditional Irish dresses with Celtic insignia, which in turn rip off to reveal sequined black bras and stockings. Sex sells and this is an evident theme in the show. Audience opinions vary from eye candy for the bored husbands to unnecessary or detracting for some women. No one complains or comments about the men in tight 1970’s body shirts, or bare chested, but I notice.
The lighting is upscale as well, there are almost as many moving light units in the ceiling and sides as there are in the Civic “sky ceiling” itself. The stage props are sparse, but the flaming columns 2-3 metres high in the Dark Lords home sequence are so hot I could feel them half way back in the stalls in row J. What must that feel like on stage?
It is LOUD. Bring earplugs if you wish but don’t miss this last chance to watch the most revolutionary change in Irish Dance since its inception. The music has a heavy rock emphasis but suits the gritty 21st century edge of the show.
As an encore, the screen displays Flatley displaying his footwork in spats – he has been on record as being able to tap 35 times per second. I did notice the difference in the show without him. His stage presence is missed as lead male dancer; his is a personality and talent without equal. That is said without detracting from the obvious skill of the male leads.
The encore of Irish Dance line up in sequinned tuxedos top the evening off in a satisfying manner.
The audience applauds and stands to do so, but the edge of greatness is missing. Maybe it is Flatley’s absence. Is it worth seeing? Of course it is. No TV programme, regardless of how bad a night it is, is ever going to match this performance. They may never come again. Go!
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