Riverdance On Broadway

Original Cast Recording

Celtic Heartbeat / Decca Broadway Records, 2000

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 07/06/2000

It was a few years ago that the phenomenon that is "Riverdance" took the nation by storm. And already, it's starting to wear out its welcome.

I say this not because I'm sick of the Irish music - hell, I love Irish music. And it's not that I'm sick of the dancers, although I know that if I ever tried any of the moves they did, people would be rushing me to the hospital for a heart attack and because I somehow wrapped my legs around my head.

But when we get to the point of building a Broadway show around "Riverdance," well, that just seems to be too much of a good thing. And as the soundtrack to the show, Riverdance On Broadwaymy_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 , proves, some things just shouldn't be tampered with, like the formula for Coca-Cola or "Dudley-Do-Right".

Musically, there are some incredible pieces on this disc, and composer Bill Whelan is to be commended for such pieces as "Firedance" and "The Countess Cathless / Women On The Sidhe" which throw things into overdrive to catch the spirit of the original production and keep things sounding fresh.

But there are two unique problems with Riverdance On Broadway. First, no matter how hard this disc tries, it fails to capture the essence of the actual show (which, I'll admit, I haven't seen - Broadway is much farther from me than the Wisconsin border). With the exception of capturing the Irish feel at times, how do you translate a largely visual extravaganza to compact disc? They've been able to do it before, but with this particular outing, it just falls flat.

Second, some of the pieces really don't sound like they fit very well. Admittedly, I've not followed the whole "Riverdance" saga since Michael Flatley first made it a household name, so I could well be talking out of my hat at times. But I don't really see how a gospel track such as "Let Freedom Ring" fits in with the Gaelic chants of songs like "Shivna".

And for that matter, I really hate to say this, but the truth must be known - the choral group Anúna sounds like they were lifted from "FM 100" Muzak stations. The last time I heard vocal harmonies like that was on the Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Band's Christmas album - and I don't mean that to be a compliment. It's saccharine sweet to the point of being nauseating.

I guess what bothers me about Riverdance On Broadway is that, judging from the soundtrack, I get the impression that they're moving away from what the core of the original "Riverdance" was, and are trying to breathe new life into the experience in order to keep things fresh. If this is indeed the case, then I'm begging those involved: let it die with dignity. There's no shame in admitting that something has run its course. The shame is trying to keep it propped up unnaturally to milk another year or so out of it. Sadly, that's the vibe I'm getting with Riverdance On Broadway.

Rating: C-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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© 2000 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Celtic Heartbeat / Decca Broadway Records, and is used for informational purposes only.