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[whitespace] Riverdance Dancers
Top-Tapping: The 'Riverdance' chorus line does it in unison.

Irish Rappers

'Riverdance--The Show' combines Irish music and dance with high theatrics

By Heather Zimmerman

ALTHOUGH THE PENCHANT for all things Irish that Riverdance helped spawn in the U.S. has now mutated into things like the TV miniseries Leprechauns, it's not hard to see how the show's cunning blend of theatricality and culture has made its subject matter so tempting to co-opt. Riverdance--The Show melds music and dance, primarily of Irish origins, with high drama--from the unseen, slightly ominous narrator who introduces scenes to the thunderous clacking sound of a chorus line of Irish hard-shoe dancers. Riverdance--The Show unequivocally knows that if you dress it up, they will come.

To that end, the show boasts sumptuous, jewel-toned velvet costumes and a spare but versatile set. Fortunately, these trappings, eye-catching as they are, really do serve to complement the skill of the performers, which is considerable. The musicians demonstrate prowess on both contemporary and traditional instruments, and rather than relegating them to the bandstand at the back of the stage, director John McColgan often integrates the musicians and a choir into dance numbers. The show focuses on Irish step dancing but also includes a dynamic mix of flamenco, tap and Russian folk, and the large cast of dancers are fleet-footed and entertaining. Lead step dancers Michael Patrick Gallagher and Clara Kennedy don't have all the polish of their predecessors yet, but their skill and vigor makes them just as appealing.

The one instance in which the show's theatrics detract from the performances might seem a trifling matter, but it's one that would do Milli Vanilli proud. If you're close enough to see the dancers' feet hitting the stage, you may notice that the steps don't match the sound of the taps; it appears that the loud clicking of the hard-shoes on the stage is recorded, or boosted by a recording. Sure, it amplifies the power of the dances; it makes that line of dancers all stepping in precision that much more imposing, but it also seems like a hint that it isn't just mainstream American entertainment that has adopted Irish culture--with Riverdance--The Show, it goes a wee bit in the other direction, too. But just so long as the show doesn't feature Lucky Charms product placement, I'll still be a fan.

Riverdance--The Show plays Nov. 11-12 at 8pm, Nov. 13 at 2 and 8pm, and Nov. 14 at 2 and 7pm at the Flint Center, 21250 Stevens Creek Blvd., Cupertino. Tickets are $25-$65. (408.998.BASS)

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From the November 11-17, 1999 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 1999 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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