25 YEARS OF LORD OF THE DANCE – Palace Theatre, Manchester

Despite some odd staging choices, 25 YEARS OF LORD OF THE DANCE is a fast paced, exhilarating and spectacularly fun crowd pleaser that will entertain the whole family.

25 YEARS OF LORD OF THE DANCE UK Tour. Photo Credit: Brian Doherty

4.5 out of 5 stars

After two and a half decades of standing ovations across 70 countries, 25 YEARS OF LORD OF THE DANCE arrives at Manchester’s Palace Theatre with a bang this week.

The buzz of excitement that runs through the audience as the lights begin to dim demonstrates the cult following that the show has amassed over its impressive quarter of a century run. Building on the nostalgia with a highlight reel from over the years, you can hear a pin drop in the theatre as the first few dancers make their way onto stage.

We are introduced to the delightful Little Spirit. Her warm and enthusiastic facial expressions are visible by every member of the audience, and she perfectly personifies the childlike sense of wonder that the audience are invited to feel.

As the show processes, we are treated to a variety of talents, not least the vocal displays of Erin the Goddess who’s rich, smooth vibrato is interspersed throughout, mesmerising the audience.

25 YEARS OF LORD OF THE DANCE UK Tour. Photo Credit: Brian Doherty

Another musical display comes in the form of two fiddlers who appear at various points, showing their incredible skill on instruments while also trying to navigate, interacting with each other and dancing in stilettos. While their smiles rarely falter, the occasional look of unease does question whether the choreography is entirely necessary, or whether it pushes parts of the show slightly over the top.

The age-old story of good versus evil is loosely told through the interactions between Lord of the Dance and his nemesis. While the acting won’t win awards, there is no denying the magnitude of dancing talent on stage. The effortless and gravity defying Cailín Saoirse soars across the stage with grace and delicacy, and Matthew Smith as Lord of the Dance excellently interacts with both the cast and the audience, with pure joy on his face for his entire performance.

At times, the dancing is overshadowed by various staging choices, which is unfortunate and shows little testament to the amount of dedication the performers will have put into the piece. The costumes are undeniably impressive but are questionable at times. Morrighan the Temptress’ only solo performance is while wearing a slightly distracting red catsuit, and Don Dorcha sports a head piece throughout that resembles an American football helmet and leaves the audience questioning whether he was supposed to look like a futuristic cyborg.

25 YEARS OF LORD OF THE DANCE UK Tour. Photo Credit: Brian Doherty

Combined with the occasionally blinding disco-esque lights, and interesting selection of videos used for the backdrop, it does give off a slight pantomime feel at times and begins to verge on bizarre as the show goes on. It feels like the new staging and costume, which was designed to give the show a more modern feel, has slightly missed the mark.

Regardless, the performers keep the audience on the edge of their seat for the entire evening. With not one but two standing ovations, there is a palpable feeling of absolute joy in the theatre both throughout and after the show.

Fast paced, exhilarating and spectacularly fun, 25 YEARS OF LORD OF THE DANCE is a crowd pleaser that will entertain the whole family.

25 YEARS OF LORD OF THE DANCE runs at the Palace Theatre, Manchester until 17 July 2022.