BWW Review: RIVERDANCE the 20th Anniversary Tour Charms at The Oncenter Crouse Hinds Theater

BWW Review: RIVERDANCE the 20th Anniversary Tour Charms at The Oncenter Crouse Hinds Theater
The Riverdance Troupe. Photo by Jack Hartin.

The international Irish dance phenomenon, Riverdance, is delighting Syracuse audiences at the Crouse Hinds Theater. Now in its 20th year, it's easy to see why this dazzling production remains so popular and beloved. Under the fabulous direction of John McColgan, the dancers, musicians, and singers give captivating and high energy performances that leave us wanting more.

Riverdance's 20th Anniversary Tour features Michael Flatley's original principal Irish dance choreography and an energizing score by Bill Whelan. The Irish Dance Troupe performs all the original choreography by Mavis Ascott, Jean Butler, John Carey, Brendan De Gallai, Colin Dunne, Carol Leavy Joyce, Eileen Martin, Paula Nic Cionnath, Maria Pages, and Tarik Winston. The dancers capture the essence of Riverdance and entertain as they expertly perform the steps.

The principal dancers, Maggie Darlington and Bobby Hodges, certainly show off their high-kicks and intricate toe-tapping skills throughout the show. Their soaring and breathtaking Irish dance moves are exciting to watch and Darlington and Hodges' passion for the material, energy, and skill make numbers such as "Riverdance" quite unforgettable. Maggie Darlington's charm and poise ensure "The Countless Cathleen" and "Anna Livia" are highlights. Bobby Hodges captivates with "Reel Around the Sun."

While Irish dancing is understandably a focus, the production provides a taste of other international dance forms, including flamenco, Russian folk dance, and tap.

Flamenco soloist Marta Ortiz Duesto is seductive, passionate, and dramatic as she stomps her feet in "Firedance" and "Andalucia." The Riverdance Russian Ensemble (Ilya Burtsev, Nicole Fedorov, Rifat Gabdulkhakov, Katrina Meske, Anna Vedenina, and Anatolli Zavitov) delivers powerful dancing with "The Countless Cathleen," "Shivna," and the highlight performance, "Russina Dervish." On opening night, "Trading Taps" brought down the house. The hardcore and spunky Riverdance Tappers (JL Williams and Tyler Knowlin), Bobby Hodges, and the Male members of the Irish Dance Troupe all show off their best dance moves in this delightfully entertaining number.

Another fine moment is when dancer and Baritone soloist JL Williams sings a passionate performance of "Heal their Hearts - Freedom."

What is Riverdance without the Irish music though? The musical elements of the show are just as breathtaking and captivating as the dancing.

The talented instrumentalists steal the show with two numbers, "Slip into Spring - The Harvest" and "Slow Air & Tunes," but are integral to the success of many others. Musical Director Pat Mangan easily charms the audience when he plays the fiddle. His playing highlights and embraces the intricacies of the music, but is also filled with passion. Mark Alfred steals the spotlight on "Slow Air & Tunes" as he plays the Bodhrán, an Irish frame drum. Matt Bashford skillfully plays the Uilleann Pipes, low whistle, and Tin Whistle throughout the show. Ken Edge's saxophone work in "Trading Taps" is particularly noteworthy.

The show also features the Riverdance Singers. The soprano soloist has an angelic voice that soared on many songs.

The technical elements complement the dancing and music, making it a true theatrical event. Robert Ballagh's set and Luis Poveda's projection animation transport us to Ireland, Spain, Russia, and an American City with ease. John Comiskey's lighting adds drama, passion, and energy to the show. Joan Bergin's costumes are culturally appropriate and add to the beauty of the choreography.

The success of Riverdance continues with this touring production. The dancers, singers, and musicians do not disappoint, so whether you've seen it before or this is your first time, you need to see this show. The tour brings a breathtaking and high energy performance to Syracuse, a city that has a very strong sense of Irish pride. Passion and entertainment. What more could you want?

Running Time: Approximately two hours and ten minutes with one twenty minute intermission.

Guidance: Entertaining for all ages.

The 20th Anniversary USA tour of Riverdance performs at The Oncenter Crouse Hinds Theater through March 2, 2017. The production is part of the Famous Artists Broadway Theater Series, Broadway in Syracuse. For information of the 20th anniversary tour of Riverdance, click here. For information on upcoming Broadway in Syracuse events, click here.

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