June 17, 2015
Finally, the gates for Live at The Marquee have opened up for the people of Cork (and Ireland), who have waited patiently all year for 2015’s line-up.
Entering the enormous marquee brings that jumping-in-your-skin feeling, like being at the circus. But a different kind of magic happens under this stripy blue and yellow tent, and the fun has just begun.
Especially, last night, as one of Ireland’s biggest exports returns to Cork, after twenty years of dominating stages worldwide. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, a big warm welcome to Riverdance.
The seven-minute interval act has come a long, long way since its beginnings in 1994. Its Irish dancing, traditional music and choral group signature style has been re-forged, and the evolution of Riverdance is certainly showcased through a hodge-podge of dance, musical and theatrical acts from Russian, North American tap, and flamenco, married beautifully with Irish dancing.
Firstly, hats off to James Greenan, lead dancer. Never mind his faultless technique or unrelenting stamina, but James’ striking stage presence possessed both aggression, stature and ease with being marvelled at by hundreds.
From start to finish, Greenan and his lead partner, Emma Warren, danced almost interconnected to one another, both with relaxed smiles and the grace of lithe sprites (if sprites could jig).
Their troupe made their dynamically complex dance routines seem like child’s play. A wink here amongst the dancers, and a mouthing of encouragement there, the entire cast seemed like a tight-knit clan of highly talented artists.
The earth-shattering voice of baritone singer, Michael Samuels in his solo song, had the very framework shaking. With a cheeky grin, violinist Patrick Mangan serenaded us with ‘The Banks of My Own Lovely Lee’ as crowds erupted into song.
Eamonn Galldubh’s moving performance on the uilleann pipes induced a bad case of goose bumps across the entire audience, Ken Edge did things to a sax that’s never been done before, and let’s not forget Mark Alfred on the drums, gracing us with a bout of the bódhrán.
What was puzzling about Riverdance? They ended the first half with the 1994 original, which the audience naturally assumed would be the finale. They had people wondering, ‘Well, if that’s not the finale, I wonder what will be?’ or ‘Jesus, it’ll have to be pretty massive to top the original’.
There was a five-minute standing ovation during the final act. Palms were stinging, voices were hoarse, people wondered no more.
Riverdance dance lives on, evolved but untarnished. Go see it, now.
Read Catriona Marron interview on the Cork Independents website
John Lonergan is stepping out for a Riverdance show in his hometown of Cork
Busy week here in the Gaiety Theatre