Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Cleveland & Akron

Riverdance 20
National Tour
Review by Mark Horning

Also see David's review of Boy and Mark's review of Hair

Riverdance 20
Photo by Jack Hartin
For most people, the title Riverdance conjures up visions of Irish step dancers clicking their way across the stage. While there s an abundance of this traditional type of precision dancing in Riverdance 20, it is a perfect mixture of various genres and performances all designed to delight and amaze the crowd. THis newest touring version pays homage to the twenty years since the production first saw stage light.

Over the course of the two-hour performance, the evenly paced dance extravaganza showcases some of the greatest dancing talent in the world, combined with superior musicianship and voice. Solo dancers are featured, backed up by a terrific dancing ensemble who ratchet up the excitement to hurricane force. Between the big numbers, solo and ensemble interludes are presented featuring extraordinary singers who harmonize enchanting traditional numbers.

For variety, a flamenco dancer (Marina Claudio Manso) performs two numbers ("Firedance" and "Anaducía") and two folk dances featuring the show's own "Russian" dance troupe are added as well, performing "Shivna" and "Macedonian Morning/The Russian Dervish." Of special note are Lamont Brown and Tyler Knowlin for their performance of "Trading Taps" with the male Irish dance principal and members of the male troupe. It becomes a contest between the tap dancers and the traditional dancers and in the end is a blending of the two genres.

Supplying the music are three virtuoso performers—Ceilidh Briscoe on fiddle, Emma Frampton on saxophone and Tara Howley on uilleann pipes, low whistle, tin whistle and concertina—but the true heartbeat of the show is drummer and percussionist Mark Alfred who rules behind a massive double drum kit that he works by sliding back and forth on a long bench. He is also given stage time with the Bodhrán (Irish traditional hand drum) that is absolutely captivating in the variety of sounds he is able to produce.

The principal dancers include Maggie Darlington, Amy-Mae Dolan, Gianna Petracic, Kieran Hardiman, Jason O'Neill and Callum Spencer.

The Troupe is made up of Megan Baffa, Ellen Bonner, Will Bryant, Darren Casey, Courtney D'Angelo, Maggie Darlington, Any-Mae Dolan, Aiden Garvey, Kieran Hardiman, Mitchell Hodges, Meadhbh Kennedy, Kelsey Latham, Miriam Lee, John Lonergan, Greg Molony, Jennifer Murray, Jason O'Neill, Louise O'Sullivan, Gianna Petracic, Jack Quinn, Lauren Smith, Callum Spencer, Megan Walsh and Peter Wilson.

The stage is designed by Robert Ballagh and has a rustic look to it, with a huge video screen in the center that shows various projection animations designed by Luis Poveda. The sound is absolutely perfect as each click of the heel and softly sung lyric can be clearly heard, courtesy of sound designer Michael O'Gorman. The dramatic lighting was designed by John Comiskey and the elaborate costumes are by Joan Bergin. Throughout the performance poetry written by Theo Dorgan is recited by John Kavanagh. Music is composed by Bill Whelan and the entire show is directed by John McColgan.

The performances illustrate the troubled times as well as the victories of the native Irish, with numbers titled "The Heart's Cry," "Thunderstorm," "Slip Into Spring – The Harvest," "American Wake," "Heal Their Hearts – Freedom," "Anna Livia" and "Heartland". In all, eighteen numbers are performed during the show.

This is an absolutely family friendly show that will hold the attention of all members of the clan. It is a superbly executed collection of dance performed by some of the world's greatest. Shows are selling out rapidly so you need to hurry to get tickets.

Riverdance 20, through February 28, 2018, in the State Theatre at Playhouse Square in Cleveland OH. Tickets may be purchased at, by phone by calling 216-241-6000 or by stopping by the Playhouse Square Ticket Office located in the outer lobby of the State Theatre.

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