Lord of The Dance REVIEW Don McCarron
Suzanne Connelly Syracuse, NY
Four fine dancers perform in the title roles in the Irish production.
By Suzanne Connelly
"Lord of the Dance" stormed into Syracuse Thursday night at the Landmark Theatre, to the thunderous beat of feet and hands. The feet belonged to the 18 young cast members who danced with energy and enthusiasm.
The hands belonged to an appreciative audience that frequently interrupted the dancers, midsong, with applause. "Lord of the Dance" is a story of sorts, in song, with a slim narrative line. Good, represented by the Lord and his lady, Saoirse, battles Evil, in the guise of Don Dorcha and the seductive Morrighan.
An enigmatic piper in gold lame weaves the story with a repeating melody on her pipe; she sprinkles fairy dust and gives the show a magical air.
In reality, "Lord of the Dance" is a showcase for modern interpretations of Irish step dancing. A traveling cast of 42 rotates through the roles, with different principle dancers each night.
The Syracuse audience was fortunate to see four fine dancers in the title roles. The Lord was danced with verve and vivacity by Don McCarron, who won the audience with the speed and athleticism of his work in the hard shoes. The lyrical Amanda O'Toole partnered McCarron as Saoirse.
A leering Adam McSharry taunted the audience as Don Dorcha, while Carli Brooker took liberties with the traditional Irish steps as a seductive Morrighan.
These four were joined by the fine fiddlers Matt Macuso and Bernadette Flynn and a statuesque vocalist, Jennifer Hopkins. Their musical prowess worked well as a foil for the dancing.
The showstarted off with "The Cry of the Celts," as dancers in masks, carrying torches, began their stately approach. The ensemble got a chance to immediately demonstrate their prowess in the early numbers.
The women, in gauzy butterfly-like costumes, wore the soft shoes in "Celtic Dreams," dancing to the melodies of the harp. The men, in a militant show of strength, were introduced as "Warriors" and the duel of the feet began.
The title tune was a particular crowd-pleaser, with McCarron offering a tattoo of "a cappella" tap work, which won well-deserved applause. The nontraditional aspects of the show appeared in this number, as the ladies discarded their costumes for scantier black velvet outfits with bare midriffs and some belly button ornamentation, as well. "Fiery Nights" featured some fine synchronized work by the ensemble.
In "Nightmare," the Lord, stripped of his jeweled belt, faces a final showdown with Don Dorcha, and McCarron and McSharry engage in fisticuffs with feet, a furiously fast dancing duel. Predictably, McCarron is the victor, and the evening ends with a grand celebratory dance.
The finale includes virtuoso work by the entire ensemble, including the trademark serial moves, as the dancers follow one another with split-second timing. There is even a well-orchestrated encore, with the Lord directing the action.
In addition the display of energetic dancing, this show includes histrionics with lights and fog machines, a booming soundtrack and glittering costumes, often enhanced with Celtic embroideries.
The one jarring note is the inclusion of day-glo fluorescent costumes near the end of the show, which seem in odd contrast to the regal air of the rest.