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It is a great pleasure to report that Riverdance, which Broadway Series South previously brought to Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in January 2000 and January 2003, is still a singular celebration of traditional Irish dance and music, leavened with a smattering of epic poetry written by Theo Dorgan and a choice sampling of dance styles form other cultures encountered during the Irish migration to the New World. Handsomely produced by Moya Doherty and exuberantly staged by director John McColgan, with a spectacular score by Bill Whelan, soaring sets by Robert Ballagh, striking video projections by Benjamin Pearcy, flashy costumes by Joan Bergin, and fervent narration by John Kavanagh, Abhann Productions’ North American tour of this 1995 Irish musical extravaganza still has more get-up-and-go than the proverbial Energizer Bunny.
The Boyne Company, which will perform six shows (tonight through Sunday evening) at Raleigh Memorial Auditorium, is a high-octane ensemble with enough verve and panache to rocket Tuesday’s opening-night audience from their seats for a raucous extended standing ovation at the final curtain. The sheer pageantry of Riverdance, whose chameleon-like sets change color as lighting designer Robert Murray manipulates his instruments to heighten dramatic intensity and sound designer Michael O’Gorman tweaks the show’s soundscape to give parts of Riverdance the feeling of an ancient myth coming to life.
Principal male dancer Padraic Moyles and principal female dancer Melissa Convery tripped the light fantastic in a series of scenes throughout the show. Moyles, who alternates the role of principal male dancer with Michael Eustace and Marty Dowds, and Convery, who alternates the role of principal female dancer with Cara Casey and Aislinn Ryan, are dance captains of the show’s remarkable Irish Dance Troupe. The swashbuckling Moscow Folk Ballet Company, headed by Anna Brovkina and Ilia Pankratov; fiery flamenco soloist Nuria Brisa; and especially African-American tap-dancers extraordinaire Aaron Tolson and DeAndre Lewis Wolf wowed the Tuesday-night ticket-buyers.
Male soloists Mark Fennell and Tim Jay (“Lift the Wings”), female soloist Kathryn Else, and especially baritone soloist Michael Samuels (“Heal Their Hearts,” “Freedom”) sang their hearts out; and solo instrumentalists Alexis MacIssac (fiddle/concertina) and Declan Masterson (Uilleann pipes, low whistle) and the rest of the Riverdance Band — Kennedy Atchinson (keyboards), Stephen Holloway (drums/percussion/Bodhrán), and Carl Geraghty (saxophone) — and drum captain Ian McTigue made beautiful music together, with fiddler Alexis MacIssac literally bringing down the house with her riveting solos.
Despite its familiarity to Broadway Series South patrons, Riverdance is still an exceptional evening’s entertainment — something to see over and over and over again! Don’t miss it.
Broadway Series South presents Riverdance Thursday-Friday, Nov. 17-18, at 8 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 19, at 2 and 8 p.m.; and Sunday, Nov. 20, at 2 and 7 p.m. in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina. $31.50-$68.50. Progress Energy Box Office: 919/831-6060/. Group Rates (for groups of 20 or more): 919/857-4565, email@example.com, or http://www.broadwayseriessouth.com/2005-2006/group.html#river [inactive 2/06]. Broadway Series South: http://www.broadwayseriessouth.com/2005-2006/specials.html#river [inactive 2/06]. The Show: http://www.riverdance.com/ [inactive 12/06]. Internet Broadway Database: http://www.ibdb.com/show.asp?ID=7545. Internet Movie Database: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0136491/.