Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Long-Running 'Riverdance' Is Bidding Farewell to St. Louis and North America

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Long-Running 'Riverdance' Is Bidding Farewell to St. Louis and North America

Article excerpt

"Riverdance," which returns to the Fox Theatre next weekend, has been such a fleet-footed phenomenon that it has become almost synonymous with Irish dance and culture. It's a measure of the show's success that it has inspired numerous imitators.

But its journey is coming to an end - at least, as far as North America is concerned. Which means it's the last chance to see "Riverdance" in St. Louis.

"We've always said that we didn't want the show to limp across the finish line," senior executive producer Julian Erskine said recently from Dublin. "We've had a fantastic 16 years in North America, and we thought this is a good time to leave."

Indeed, enthusiasm for the long-running show has waned in recent years.

"Of course, there was a reality check," Erskine said. "Cities that we used to play two weeks in, we now do one week in. But you can't keep something going forever. So we decided to do a three- year farewell tour and get out while we're on top."

The touring strategy going forward calls for focusing on "developing nations like India, Brazil and China."

"Riverdance" has given more than 10,000 performances on four continents and been seen onstage by more than 22 million people. The show, directed by John McColgan, produced by Moya Doherty and featuring a score by Bill Whelan, has also enjoyed popularity through its cast recordings (including a Grammy-winning album), television appearances and home-video releases.

Erskine attributes the success of "Riverdance" to its spirited portrayal of Irish dance and music, the Irish immigrant experience, and their interaction with other cultures - an approach that allows the show to include flamenco, tap and Russian folk dancing.

"We've never just seen ourselves as a show, but as a cultural ambassador for Ireland as well," he said.

Although the show's score reflects the influence of jazz and other musical idioms, "the roots of the music are pure Irish," Erskine said. "And the dance is absolutely rooted in traditional Irish dance. The percussive nature of the dance makes it very attractive. If you watch our dancers close up, the speed that their feet are moving at is absolutely incredible. …

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