Lord of the Dance 3D – Footwork Wows, Not 3D

Michael Flatley has come a long way from his early days in Chicago to a worldwide star.  The most successful dancer of all time took an art form that is hundreds of years old and lit the fuse in his own characteristic style, creating an Irish dance blitzkrieg that took over the planet in the late 90’s.   Since that time, Flatley has created a few other shows along the way in the form of Feet of Flames and Celtic Tiger, and while each attracted audiences in explosive numbers, neither ever changed the landscape quite like Lord of the Dance (LOTD) did.  In a late 2010 reunion, Flatley once again took the mantle as Lord of the Dance for a brief but highly successful European tour, but this driven individual did not stop there.  Not only did Flatley return in LOTD, he brought it to us in 3D.

Lord of the Dance 3D is assembled from a few of those aforementioned 2010 shows.  It debuted in U.S. movie theaters today, St. Patrick’s Day (how appropo!), and only for a limited engagement of one week.  When news of LOTD 3D was announced last fall, I was worried that the economically suffering area of Cleveland, Ohio (currently home for me), would not be financially worthy enough to attract the film.  Luckily for me and all other Clevelanders, the filmed performance is available at 7 area theaters.  Catching the first showing of the day, I was eager to settle into my seat and witness the awe and energy of the greatest touring production of all time on the big screen. 

Lord of the Dance 3D begins with a slow cycle of black and white stills with Flatley’s voice describing his journey to the top of the proverbial mountain.  A little backstage video is thrown in for good measure which perfectly sets the tone for the show about to start.  Bernandette Flynn, the original Saorise (pronounced sheer-sa) or “good girl” continues her role here looking as striking as ever.  Her performance throughout is nothing short of spectular as this Irish lass has come a long way from capable yet shy dancer to impeccable performer.  Cry of the Celts, as always, starts off the show and as Bernandette and crew depart the stage amidst impending drum beats, Michael darts onto the stage worthy of a roaring applause.  As he makes his way from stage right to left and back again, it’s obvious that his arm movements aren’t as sharp as they once were.  Then again, the original video is 15 years old and Flatley is now 52.  Nevertheless, I’ll be damned if his footwork isn’t as rapidly impressive as it was back then.  This guy’s feet still move with unparalleled limberness that wowed the Dublin O2 Arena crowd on screen as well as the theater-goers around me. 

The next lead’s appearance was that of bad guy Don Dorcha (pronounced Darka) performed by Tom Cunningham.  Cunningham did the role justice with his arsenal of stage  presence and champion-level dancing.  His expressions gave the character life, though his wardrobe and that of his henchmen is somewhat questionable.  Looking more like some neo-Hell’s Angels leader, the spiked biker helmet and space age torso plate were an odd combination.  The chorus of bad guy dancers looked more like replications of DC Comics’ Judge Dredd than a crew of imposing hard shoe artists.  Unfortunately, the rather silly costumes here detracted from one of the greatest Irish dance numbers of all time; Warriors. 

The fourth and final lead made her way to the stage for Gypsy, a seductive number where Morrighan the Temptress makes her curvy presence known.  Ciara Sexton takes the reigns in this role as the piece takes on a different look in both choreography and costume.  Exchanging the red dress for a tank top unitard topped with a beret, Sexton walks down the stairs with a French cabaret-style flare and gives Gypsy new life.  In all honesty, this number needed this spark.  Not just in what the dancer is wearing, but in the choreography as well.  Sexton throws a little ballet in her steps refreshing an otherwise stagnant dance number.  The cat-like prowess of Sexton is as front and center as the show’s extravagant lighting display.  For many, Gillian Norris will always be the best Morrighan.  For this writer, that may hold true, although Ciara Sexton brings her own flavor of “this is how it’s done” to the table and I was not disappointed.

As far as the film itself is concerned, you will find all the singing numbers have been omitted.  The violin piece, Lament, has also been shortened.  One very big disappointing subtraction, however, is that of Siamsa (pronounced sheem-sa); a ceili number featuring bright colors, difficult formations and an aura of fun that is completely smile-inducing.  On the bright side, you will find the inclusion of Celtic Fire, a fast-pace musical number where Flatley feverishly plays the flute with the show’s band, two members of which are the über radiant violin players.  Should I define the term “sexy” or just show you a picture of these girls?  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to include one here so  get to a theater and experience their beauty and talent in action.

The picture is delightfully clear and crisp throughout the film’s runtime while the benefit of theater sound truly comes to light.  The taps were audibly easy to make out, the audience applause definitive, and the music just pure brilliance in the air with its impressive use of range and bass.  If this film/performance ever comes out on Blu-ray, whether it’s 3D or 2D, it will sound absolutely incredible on a home theater surround sound system.  Now comes the three-dimensional aspect.  Is it all it’s cracked up to be here?  In a word, no.  There are moments scattered throughout the production when the 3D provides an impressive display of depth.  Sadly, this is the minority of the time.  It’s not like you can take the annoying glasses off and still watch the film though.  Without them, your vision of the performance is blurred.  With them, clarity kicks in but 3D only sporadically comes to life.   

Complete with encores, a Feet of Flames solo, Flately’s miked adrenaline-inducing comments on stage near the end, and the show’s most elaborate and possily most expensive backdrop to date (multiple video screens), Lord of the Dance 3D is easily worthy of a recommendation to get off your sofa and get to a theater for this dazzling performance.  Ironically enough, I had tickets to the first two of the three Dublin performances this past November that helped comprise this film.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make the trip across the pond.  I may have missed the live effect, but I still got to see Michael Flatley back in action with the incomparable Lord of the Dance courtesy of this film.  Flatley’s still the man and as one attendee’s sign at the 1998 Feet of Flames show stated, he is “Forever Dancing in our Hearts.”   

For more information on Lord of the Dance 3D, please visit http://www.lordofthedance.com or http://www.michaelflatley.com.  Check local listings for showtimes.




1 Response to “Lord of the Dance 3D – Footwork Wows, Not 3D”

  1. Sean Ferguson

    I’m glad you were able to see this!