Saturday October 22nd 2016

“Riverdance- celebrating 20 years” reviewed by Emily Johnson


 Highly Recommended **** Everyone knows about” Riverdance”—it’s one of those shows, like Blue Man Group, that has been popular for a generation. It has spurred many offshoots, a few stars, and a renaissance in interest in Irish Dance. Now the blockbuster returns after a hiatus to celebrate its 20th birthday with a limited engagement at Cadillac Palace Theater in Chicago.

RDThe simple production depicts cycles of the moon, sun, and seasons, forming a themed backdrop to the series of dancing vignettes and musical interludes that make up the show. The mood is set by a syrup-voiced soprano in full Enya mode (the show was conceived in the 90s, after all), but quickly enough we get to the dancing, which is what we’re here to see. Rousing numbers, powered by fiddle, display martial lines of precisely stepping feet. The rod-straight bodies and only occasional flourish of the arms are what “Riverdance” is known for. It even received the Saturday Night Live treatment when it first broke into the popular consciousness. It endures as an entertaining marvel of talent.

Though the technical skill was evident throughout the night, the dancers of course made it look easy and fun. Lead dancer Jason O’Neill was especially magnetic, smiling and leaping across the stage, using his tall silhouette to advantage. They could have matched the female and male lead better physically, but six principal dancers rotate the male and female lead role throughout the week. We’ll see how the others do.

In Nutcracker style, we were treated to a Flamenco soloist, a Russian dance troupe, and Macedonian acrobats, all still recalling the stomping style, but with their own twists. The highlight of the show was the dance battle between the newly-immigrant Irish and black American tap dancers. The uniformly excellent” Riverdance” musicians—an energetic violinist, saxophonist, Uillean pipe player, and drummer, built energy and momentum ‘til the spectacular finish.


Good for families and lovers of all things Irish (called Hibernophiles, after Hibernia, what the Romans called it). Through Sunday, April 10, 7:30 pm, with matinees on Wednesday and Saturday

RD4Cadillac Palace Theater, located at 151 West Randolph Street

Tickets range from $30–$90. and can be purchased at any of the Broadway In Chicago box offices, by calling the Broadway In Chicago Ticketline at 1-800–745-3000 or online at

To see what others are saying, visit, go to Review Round-Up and click at “Riverdance”riverdance1


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