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Review: Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games Palace Theatre Manchester April 2017

Manchester-born James Keegan steps into the shoes of the legendary Michael Flatley – a very hard act to follow – in Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games.

Michael Flatley, who with Riverdance brought Irish dance to the world stage, is creator, producer, director and choreographer of the production.

With Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games selling out in theatres, arenas and stadiums around the world, a new audience has grown to love Irish dance.

Classic and awe-inspiring in its roots, with a cast of 40 musicians, singers and dancers, the mixture of Irish dancing, modern dance, ballet, singing and duelling violins, sees a constant stream of talent hitting the stage, with hi-tech 3D projection, with everything from magical forests with birds, butterflies, unicorns and wild horses, to the lair of the Dark Lord deep inside a volcano with lava, real fire and smoke and menacing robots.

On the surface, it’s a simple story of good versus evil, love conquers all, seen through the dreams of the Little Spirit, played by Jess Judge, who is a world class acrobatic gymnast.

Michael Flatley’s iconic lead role as the Lord of the Dance is taken up by Manchester’s own James Keegan, who fights against the Dark Lord, played by Tom Cunningham, and his army of dark disciples. Morrighan the Seductress comes between the Lord and his true love Saoirse. Will the Lord of the Dance and his Chieftains defeat the Dark Lord and his men?

Flatley’s shoes aren’t easy to fill but the charismatic Keegan somehow manages to live up to his predecessor as he brings a commanding stage presence and heaps of charisma and has the audience in the palm of his hand.

Admittedly the skill and commitment of all the dancers, with their impressively quick footwork, is sometimes too fast for the eye to follow. In fact, it’s generally a blink and you’ll miss it scenario. Ultimately, the flawless timing in the formation is something that everyone can enjoy and it clearly deserves a great deal of respect and admiration.

There’s even a little treat thrown in for die-hard fans of Michael Flatley. During this production, the absence of seeing him perform his Guinness World record of 35 taps a second footwork live, is replaced with 3D cinema-like projections of him dancing in the beginning with his young son and ending with, not one, but three Michael Flatley’s who merge into one.

The original Lord of the Dance debuted in 1996 and since then it has been a global sensation for the world of Irish dancing and it’s still inspiring people of all ages to try Irish dancing for themselves. Flatley’s legacy lives on in this 2017 tour.

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