The best seat in the house for one of the most popular shows on the planet is “Lord of the Dance 3D,” a concert film that puts the viewers on stage with the thunderously percussive Irish dancers starring and under the direction of Chicago-born Michael Flatley, the show’s “creator, producer, director, and star.” And of course, Lord of the Dance.
There’s no dramatic tension here, either on or off-stage. They try — Flatley explains at the beginning that this show attempted the impossible and everyone said it couldn’t be done, now the pressure is really on because they are coming home to Dublin. But the graphics that open the movie remind us that it has already sold out the biggest venues in the biggest cities in the world and it is fair to expect that an Irish dance show will do pretty well in Ireland.
And there is a folklore-ish sort of storyline in the dances, with a glittery jester-clad sprite waking the dancers with a flute, followed by some sort of good and evil battle that climaxes as the sprite’s flute is snapped in pieces and Flatley’s sparkling Lord of the Dance belt is ripped from his waist. Do you think he can dance it all back to victory?
At its cheesiest, which is very, very cheesy, the battle of the dancers is reminiscent of a (more) twinkle-toed version of Michael Jackson’s “Bad” video with a bit of the Sharks and Jets from “West Side Story,” if the Sharks costumes were inspired by “Star Wars.” It is almost relentlessly entertaining, with wild stage effects that include shooting streams of sparks and images in lights timed to each tap, and many very lovely legs in very, very short skirts dancing up a storm.
It would have added more interest to give us a sense of what goes on backstage and meet some of the almost interchangeable dancers. I would love to have seen the rehearsals to find out how they create the impeccable precision of the dozen and more taps per second as they all but fly across the stage. But the movie keeps us at a distance, seeing only what the live audience sees.
It’s unlikely to thrill those who are not already fans. But the throngs who love to see Irish step-dancing will find that up-close and 3D is an excellent way to enjoy the show.