With all types of art, there's nothing like the original. That's the philosophy surrounding "Riverdance: the Show." The production is extravagant, dynamic, fun, exciting, moody and enjoyable.
And when it's compared to Michael Flatley's overblown breakoff, "Lord of the Dance," there is a huge amount of sincerity. Flatley's version smells of pretense, melodrama and ego."Riverdance," thank heavens, is just the opposite.
Wednesday's performance of "Riverdance" was a feast for the eyes and ears. There was something for everyone. If the audience wasn't impressed by the mix of Celtic, American jazz, choral and flamenco music, there was the dancing - everything from contemporary ballet, modern, traditional reels and square dance moves, flamenco and, of course, tapping.
Let it be known, however, the tapping came in pairs - Irish style and American style. And that was pounded into the stage during a segment called "Trading Taps," one of many highlights.
Lead Irish-style tapper Michael Patrick Gallagher and his two sidemen took on three loosely cool American tappers - Bril Barrett, Charles Gray and Martin Dumas III - during a rigorous display of lightning-quick heel-toe shuffles, spin kicks and funky forms.
Placing the disciplined Irish style against the freer American style worked well and had the audience standing and cheering both sides.
The sassy flamenco footwork of Rosa Manzano Jimenez and the Russian-based folk dancing by the Moscow Folk Ballet Company added more international spice to the performance - a nice surprise.
There was even a black American spiritual called "Heal Their Hearts - Freedom" sung by Van "the Man" Porter and the Riverdance singers.
Still, the Celtic dancing - especially the tapping - was what the audience came to see.
The lines were straight and the steps, no matter how difficult, were together in a neat extravagant package. They had to be. The tapping was part of the percussion, and if one step was off, it would have thrown the sequence out of whack.
Waifish Niahm Roddy - her first name is pronounced Neem - also had the audience standing in the aisles. The youngster, who joined "Riverdance" at 19 two years ago, charmed the crowd with her spry steps, high kicks and authoritative stamps.
The Riverdance Orchestra - keyboardist/director David Downes, fiddle player Niamh Ni Charra, piper/whistler John O'Brien, drummer Robbie Casserly, saxophonist Brendan Doyle, accordionist Luke Daniels, bassist Paul Moor, guitarist David Whyte and percussionist Robert Harris - provided the mystical, magical soundtrack.
Both Harris and Charra took turns in the spotlight for some lively solos and duets.
"Riverdance: the Show" didn't rely on a storyline to move the various selections. Unlike Flatley's "Lord of the Dance," which was an angry, good vs. evil offshoot, "Riverdance" is a study of uniting opposing views through song, dance and music.
There were a couple of times, however, when the the flamenco selections dragged a tad.
Once again, though, there really isn't anything as effective as the original. And "Riverdance: the Show" is one of a kind. There should be no other. Are you listening Michael Flatley?