There were so many great bodies on display in “Lord of the Dance” Saturday night, the show should have been called “Lord of the Abs.”
Sure, Michael Flatley conceived the production with the focus on fast feet, but the barely-there costumes kept eyes up and away from the tap-happy floor at the Orpheum Theatre.
As Flatley’s heir apparent, James Keegan more than held his own. Dancing with great confidence and precision, he led the company through a battle with a dark lord (Zoltan Papp), eager to take the WWE-like belt wrapped around the head guy.
Utilizing some big-screen visuals (even though a unicorn turned up two times too many), “Lord of the Dance” created a Voldemort-like baddie who lorded (sorry) over the good guys like the great and powerful Oz. A band of robot-like dancers did his bidding, then Keegan brought out his own big guns and shot them down.
In between fights, a group of women did a happy dance while Little Spirit (Jessica Judge) played a flute and tumbled around the stage.
The dances, choreographed by Mary Duffy Pask and Flatley, combined traditional Irish dance moves with modern dance. (For an encore, the company did a tap routine after a tape of three Michael Flatleys did the same.)
The show didn’t have the retro feel of “Riverdance,” the production that made Flatley an international star. But it brought its own charms, even though it was difficult to determine what, exactly, were the “Dangerous Games” when no one spoke and only one person (the very good Rachael O’Connor) sang.
O’Connor and two violin players were the only live musicians; the rest of the orchestra was pre-recorded, which meant steps couldn’t be missed and lines had to keep moving.
One battle (between good and evil women) had moments that recalled Mimi’s big scene in “Rent” and a group number hinted at an aerobics workout.
The dark lord, working under a Vader-like mask and breastplate, got his own moment, offer high kicks that looked like they were hitting Keegan in the face before banishing the good guy to some dance hell. Thankfully, the spirit brought him back in time for the big dance-off.
The show’s costumes, which ranged from skimpy to elaborate, didn’t hinder movement and, save for some loose Velcro, helped Keegan demonstrate why he was the right man to replace the original.
Because a storyline isn’t really necessary (and looks kind of dumb with so-so animation in the background), Flatley would be wise to make the next iteration a simple dance display – or an adaptation of “Game of Thrones.” There’s a number that suggests the latter (complete with throne) but it didn’t have enough detail to convey winter is coming.
In this “Lord of the Dance,” dance and looks got a solid 10, but the plot had to settle for a paltry 3. Abs, though, trumped all.