At the start of this Irish dance spectacular, there is an announcement that this is the greatest dance show in the world. So there’s a lot of live up to.
Since it began, seven million people have seen it. Judging by the shouting and whooping of some of the stalls audience on the first night at Sheffield City Hall, there is a lot of repeat business.
Undoubtedly this is Michael Flatley’s ultimate expression of extreme Irish dancing. The ensemble performs with a brio that sometimes defies comprehension. Just how can they do so many taps per second?
Originally the production was built around creator, producer, director and choreographer Michael Flatley’s own abilities and they are superbly copied by the dancer currently in the role (even at a tenner, there are no cast lists or production credits in the programme, so there is no clue to who he is). But the showmanship of the creator will always be impossible to match.
All the scenes are loosely based around a story that is almost naive in its simplicity. The Irish idyll is invaded by “the darkness” and that comes in the form of a Darth Vader-like anti-hero in loud shoes. There is a seven-a-side battle and then a duel with the Lord of the Dance sequin-covered belt as the prize. You soon get the drift.
Amongst all this is a jester-like spirit who sprinkles fairy dust at appropriate moments. There are giant screens with stunning visual effects; ear-popping explosions with fireworks to match, and a lighting plot which is a feast for the eye.
Is the greatest dance show epithet deserved? As it says in the programme in another context: “That’s for you to decide.” I have.