Friday, 12 September 2014


He may need a little extra help, but Michael Flatley is still the high-kicks king

Written by Richard Barber
Richard-Barber-176Its title is quite a mouthful and not exactly short on ego – notice the omission of our hero’s first name. But, by the end of a truly unclassifiable confection, you can kind of forgive him.

Here, the man who singlefootedly introduced Irish dancing to the international stage, and most notably those steel-tipped tap shoes, has taken his show to the next level. Now the forces of good and evil – there’s never any confusion because the goodies are in white, the baddies in black – are pitted against each other in a series of gladiatorial dance numbers against a psychedelic backdrop best described as Disney on acid.

The action opens with a (frankly rather irritating) sprite cartwheeling across the stage, her magic penny whistle to hand. We are then treated to a dozen colleens – six blondes, six brunettes – dancing against a screen awash with waterfalls, pink butterflies, white horses and the inevitable unicorn. But what’s this? Suddenly we’re in a forest ravaged by fire as bad men in black and silver do their worst. By the interval, I was so wired, I almost weakened and bought a tub of Baileys ice cream.

Throw in a couple of micro-skirted blonde fiddlers, a temptress in spray-on red PVC and a clutch of clanking robots, and the cast is almost complete. There’s also a fetching singer who reminded me of Nadine Coyle – unsurprisingly, when I consulted my programme, because it was indeed the ex-Girls Aloud singer in fine voice and sporting the best pair of pins in London.

But hang on a moment. Where in the world was Michael Flatley? We’d glimpsed him and his seven-year-old son, Michael Jnr, very briefly at the top of the show and, since then, nothing. The Lord Of The Dance is performed now – and extremely well – by James Keegan – the 56-year-old Flatley, by his own admission, is not able to sustain an entire show.

Suddenly, though, he’s with us, kicking up a storm as the audience roars its approval before a true coup de théâtre in which, by some technological sleight of hand, three Michael Flatleys appear to dance with one another. It’s a fitting end to an evening that is, quite literally, ridiculously good fun.

Flatley Lord Of The Dance: Dangerous Games, runs at the London Palladium, Argyll Street, London W1, until 25 October: 0844-412 4655, www.reallyusefultheatres.co.uk

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