The North American company of Riverdance, produced by Moya Doherty and directed by John McColgan, will triumphantly return to Raleigh Memorial Auditorium Tuesday, Jan. 14th, for two weeks, thanks to Broadway Series South. Since its world premiere in February 1995 at the Point Theatre in Dublin, Ireland, composer Bill Whelan's exuberant celebration of Irish music and song and traditional Irish step-dancing has sung and danced its way into the hearts of audiences worldwide.
Whelan's original music and lyrics for Riverdance won the 1997 Grammy Award for "Best Musical Show Album." Riverdance — The Album sold more than two million CDs worldwide, going Platinum in the United States.
To date, more than 12 million people worldwide have seen Riverdance, and more than 6.5 million people have purchased video version of the show. (Broadway Series South brought Riverdance to Raleigh, North Carolina in January 2000.)
The Chicago Tribune described Riverdance as "an explosion of sight and sound that simply takes your breath away," And The Times of London called the show "a family evening unlike anything else."
Currently, there are two Riverdance companies: the Lagan company is touring the United States and Canada, and the Liffey company is touring Europe and Asia. The former is named for the river that runs through the Northern Ireland capital of Belfast, and the latter is named a river that flows through the City of Dublin and on to the Irish Sea.
Principal dancers for Riverdance's North American touring company are Michael Patrick Gallagher and Tara Barry. Dance captain Edel Ryan and assistant dance captain Colin Ryan head the show's Irish Dance Troupe.
The Riverdance band includes: musical director David Downes (keyboards), Niamh Ní Charra (fiddle), Brian O'Brien (Uilleann pipes, low whistle), Andy Reilly (Bodhrán and percussion), Carl Geraghty (saxophone), Colm Gannon (box accordion), Zac Drummond (electric, acoustic, and classical guitars), Eoghan O'Neill (bass guitar), Robbie Casserly (drums and percussion). The Riverdance drummers, led by drum captain Ian McTigue, also include Darren Holden, Stephen Flanagan, and Tony O'Sullivan.
The Riverdance singers feature male soloist Aidan Conway, female soloist Sherry Steele, and baritone soloist Joseph Noble ("Heal Their Hearts," "Freedom"). Rosa Manzano Jimenez is the featured dancer in the show's "Flamenco Firedance" and "Andalucia" segments.
Riverdance also features performances by the Moscow Folk Ballet Company, led by dance captain Alexei Soukharev. The show's "Trading Taps" tapdance extravaganza showcases the talents of tap captain Ronald "Cadet" Bastine, Jason E. Bernard, and Aaron Tolson.
"Is Riverdance past its sell-by date?" Alice Bain of The Guardian (London) asked last February in a review of the Liffey company's performance in Edinburgh, Scotland. "Surprisingly not. After a five-year absence conquering the rest of the world, it is back and as reckless as ever, knees flying shamelessly in that famous line-up. Trying to hate it, trying not to grin when the band plays full out and 60 feet answer right back, is a challenge.
Bain added: "...This is a tight-knit company that delivers the goods: drilled dancers, polished guest artists and a talented bunch of musicians playing the platinum score by Bill Whelan. The format is simple and, costumes aside, largely unchanged. Irish dancing teams up with a pick'n'mix selection of world moves — flamenco, American tap, Russian Cossack — in a glitzy showbiz spectacular packing 13 scenes into two hours."
Broadway Series South presents Riverdance Tuesday-Friday, Jan. 14-17 and 21-24, at 8 p.m.; Saturday, Jan. 18 and 25, at 2 and 8 p.m.; and Sunday, January 18 and 25, at 2 and 7 p.m. in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the BTI Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina $31.50-$68.50. 919/834-4000 or 919/231-4575 (discounts for groups of 20 or more). http://www.broadwayseriessouth.com/2002-2003/broadway.html#riverdance [inactive 4/04] or http://www.riverdance.com/.