Judging by Sunday afternoon at Proctors, “Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance” is still king — at least in the hearts of those who love shallow glitz and glitter.
The nearly sold-out matinee, billed as “the greatest dance show ever,” enjoyed a wildly enthusiastic audience that pushed the Irish dancers to perform at their highest level. And while some of the chorus dancers were out of synch, the leads, especially the men, soaked up the excitement, pushing the formulaic story line to ridiculously entertaining heights.
This spectacle has come to the area numerous times (too many to remember). Over the years, the cast has gotten smaller and the live orchestra has been replaced with recordings. The caliber of dancers has dropped too. They are now often weary looking, hopping and hammering their feet into the stage boards and forcing their plastic smiles.
This time around, however, was better than most, thanks mainly to Jason Gorman who danced the Lord role, created by Flatley. Like all of Flatley’s successors, he adheres to Flatley’s lordly gestures — puffing out his chest as he struts, commanding his deputies to step lively and in uniform military formations.
What’s so endearing about Gorman, who looks like a young John Travolta, is he doesn’t take himself seriously. After he handed down an edict to destroy the henchmen of the Dark Lord, he winked and smiled at the audience. The crowd, in turn, ate it up. This encouraged Gorman to further his antics. He poked gang members in the belly and flirted, by swishing the skirts of more than just the chosen Irish colleen and the temptress who skipped about in a revealing red dress. He also could spin faster, with more rotations, than Flatley ever could.
Unfortunately, Gorman cannot become a star of this extravaganza. The original Lord continually lords over the cast, never letting any one person stay in the lead. Also, he never lists the cast members in the program. The only names in the program booklet are Flatley’s, composer Ronan Hardiman and dance director Marie Duffy Pask. Thus, the Flatley line will remain without an heir.
Regardless, the crowd savored every moment, hissing and booing at the Dark Lord (Zoltan Papp) and cheering at the sight of Gorman. The dancers rewarded the crowd by ending the afternoon with five dazzling encores.
So, I could complain about its lack of substance, its use of women as sex objects and the idea that violence saves the world from bullies. But it doesn’t matter. As soon as the cast lines up and thunders its heels in unison, “Lord of the Dance” once again becomes irresistible. Obviously, “Lord of the Dance” has yet to run its course.