Review | Riverdance at Portsmouth Guildhall: 'Performed so perfectly... it is breathtaking'

It's not all that common to sit in a theatre audience and know you are watching the very best performers in their field.

Tuesday, 23rd November 2021, 9:28 am
Updated Tuesday, 23rd November 2021, 9:50 am
Riverdance 25 Anniversary show - lead dancers Amy-Mae Dolan and Bobby Hodges. Picture by Jack Hartin
Riverdance 25 Anniversary show - lead dancers Amy-Mae Dolan and Bobby Hodges. Picture by Jack Hartin

But with the Riverdance 25 Anniversary Show, which is playing at the Portsmouth Guildhall until November 24 and touring the UK until next month, this is exactly the case.

For those who have never seen any iteration of Riverdance before you would be forgiven for thinking it’s just two hours of people dancing in a line.

But there is nothing ‘just’ about this musical.

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Riverdance 25 Anniversary show. Picture by Jack Hartin

The revival of the widely popular stage show is an intricate medley of live Irish dance, choral singing, folk music and even performances representing other cultures woven together to form a narrative of the country's origins and its people’s place in the world.

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Each section is a tale in itself and as spectacular as the last, led by a cast of insanely talented dancers, singers and musicians - some of whom take on multiple roles.

Of course, the main focus is the Irish dancing, which is performed so perfectly and in step that it is breathtaking.

The audience can’t help but become swept up in the passion and joy that the dancers bring to the stage.

This is aided by the soundtrack played immaculately on stage by a troupe of four musicians, mainly on percussion and drums, soprano saxophone, fiddle and the accordion.

Playing without sheet music in the traditional style, they are responsible for a lot of the heart of the show and keeping that pounding, hypnotic rhythm going.

Similarly the live vocals on stage are flawless with a lead female singer giving the show an almost ethereal feel at times.

A highlight of the night is the way in which dance from other countries and cultures is integrated, including appearances by Russian performers and flamenco dancers.

And in a nod to the prevalence of Irish immigrants in the US an almost show-stealing dance off with American tap dancers ensues to the delight of the audience.

With this, the 25th anniversary tour, Riverdance has more than proven that it will be here for many more decades to come.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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