Perth, Western Australia
reviewed by Deanna Blacher
Riverdance opened last night to a packed audience in anticipatory mood.
One could feel the expectation shimmering in the air, an expectation that was, for the most part fulfilled.
The cast were in fine fettle , beautifully rehearsed and groomed, dancing with ebullience and an infectious joi de vivre as well as with a precision of footwork, par excellence , throughout the evening.
Backed by four musicians and a pre-recorded orchestral score and the Riverdance Singers, this show made for foot- tapping, thumpingly exhilarating entertainment.
The pre-recorded sound at times drowned out the dancers footwork and live musicians.
This would have been nothing more than an opening night glitch that will be surely be adjusted as the season progresses.
All four musicians, percussionist Guy Rickarby, violinist Niamh Fahy, piper Eamonn Galldubh and Toby Kelly on saxophone were in top form with Niamh Fahy’s exuberant fiddling in particular that set hearts racing and toes tapping. She strode across the stage as if to the manner born, all the while never missing a note or producing anything less than perfect intonation.
Tappers Kelly Isaac and Gilbert L. Bailley II added a touch of humour to the proceedings, while well schooled flamenco dancer Rocio Montoya, with beautifully controlled arm movements and machine gun footwork, added elegance, dignity and a touch of authenticity to the cross-cultural mix.
Lead dancers Maria Buffini, Catherine Collins, Clara McGillan, Brendan Dorris, Alan Kenefick, and Padraic Moyles lead a very closely knit dance corps. Dance director Brendan de Gallai and Dance captain Niamh Eustace obviously run a tight ship – and the results showed splendidly.
Set and lighting designs worked well for the most part but I was not enamoured of the open white light , employed in the finale of the first half. All it did was wash out the costumes and faces and leave a somewhat dreary impression on what was actually a stunning dance number.
The most effective lighting, music, choreography and costume combo was in ‘Thunderstorm’: scene five in the first half.
On the whole, this was quality family entertainment by dedicated artists and stage crew who have worked hard to give untold numbers of people around the world a spring to their steps and a lift to their hearts.