New ‘lord of the dance’ offers gleeful show

There was some confusion at the Palace Theatre on Thursday night. Audience members were not sure if
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There was some confusion at the Palace Theatre on Thursday night. Audience members were not sure if they were going to be seeing Michael Flatley, “the lord of the dance.” The mix-up was natural as the billing for the show expressly read “Michael Flatley’s ‘Lord of the Dance.’ ”

But Flatley wasn’t there as he has hung up his black leather taps several years ago. Yet the nearly sold-out crowd at the Palace, 1,700-strong, got a better man in Jason Gorman. In the title role, Gorman didn’t act as if the world revolved around his muscles flexing, like Flatley. Nor did he strut around like a blowhard, like Flatley. Neither did he take the role as boorishly serious as all of Flatley’s successors.

Gorman is the first Flatley replacement, at least seen in these parts, that actually had fun with the role. Even though he mimicked all of Flatley’s fist thrusts and stern finger-pointing, he approached his role with unadulterated glee. And in turn, that was what he made the audience feel.

He smiled in “awe shucks” way as he directed his troops to dance in military formation. He winked at the audience, as if to say “Do you believe she let me kiss her?” And he giggled, a genuine laugh, when he vanquished the evil Don Dorcha (Ciaran Plummer) and his Zorro mask-wearing henchman at the finale.

It seemed Gorman, who was also fantastic on his feet with an extension of his legs that a ballerina would kill for, wanted to highlight that the show was all make-believe. But hey, it was a happy indulgence anyway.

Sadly, the rest of the cast didn’t exude Gorman’s lighthearted confidence. Plummer looked too thin, hunched and weak to be the bad guy. Caroline Falty, as the naughty Morrighan, was not the seductress she was cast to be. She rolled her shoulders, bumped her hips and caressed her thighs with zero sex appeal. She might just as well have been making a peanut butter sandwich for her little brother.

Saoirse, the sweet and true Colleen danced by Siobhan Connolly, was performed with more empathy. But the choreography, created by Flatley, rushed both Falty and Connolly through their solos. With no savory moments, the dances, meant to be suggestive, weren’t.

The costumes, on the other hand, were. The dresses couldn’t have gotten any shorter. The one frock that covered the dancers was ripped off and kicked to the wings. The women ended that segment in bra and panties only.

“Lord of the Dance” was really a cliche. Good fought evil. Good won and got the girl. Everyone lived happily ever after.

There was a lot of glitz in the show to distract from its shallowness. In addition to the skimpy and sparkly costumes, lights swirled, sometimes blinding the audience, and the music, based on the old Shaker hymn “Lord of the Dance,” was loud and percussive. Smoke covered the stage floor and strobes flashed when the Pixie sprinkled her magic dust.

All-in-all, it was obvious that “Lord of the Dance” continues to hold the public sway. Was it high art? No way. But Flatley’s “Lord” has a divine power. The “Lord” keeps its fans returning to the box office forever more.

Categories: Life and Arts

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