Earlier on Tuesday, a stretch on Broadway was christened Michael Flatley Way, a fitting moniker for a man who has always done it his way.
He reinvented Irish dance, turned it from its near puritan roots into something joyful, passionate and beautiful, sexy even.
There is a scene in “Lord of the Dance” when the female troupe strips off their Irish dance uniforms to reveal garments that would not look out of place in Victoria’ Secret.
One can only imagine the old bones of every parish priest who demanded only respectable dances be pursued in parish halls rattling in their coffins. Sex and Irish dance – Who’d a thunk it? An Irish American kid from Chicago did actually.
Flatley’s new show, “Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games,” builds to the climactic moment when Flatley appears towards the end.
All the dancing, singing and violin and flute-playing is the prelude to what the audience really wanted – the Lord himself.
Flatley did not disappoint. His 57-year-old legs were thrashing machines, bouncing across the stage, bounding this way and that, bringing back memories of the greatest Irish dancer who ever lived.
Who cared that the plot was a contrivance? This was Flatley’s night, yet unbelievably his first on Broadway.
The final scenes with Flatley were all too short. Even a dance genius cannot outlast Father Time, but it was as if Nureyev was taking the stage again as Flatley’s crowd – and they were his crowd from the opening moment – cheered to the rafters, and danced and clapped as he went through his familiar but always thrilling routine.
Flatley’s greatness lies in the fact that once he takes the stage there is no way to take your eyes off him. He displayed enormous energy, something he referred to in conversation with IrishCentral after the show when he said he could feel the Broadway energy pulsing in his veins.
Flatley has a magnificent supporting cast. James Keegan as his Lord of the Dance successor looks and dances like Flatley, down to the frantic gestures. The Manchester-born dancer must surely be the second best dancer around these days.
Tom Cunningham as the Dark Lord and Erin Kate McIlravey as Saoirse were brilliant, their efforts only dimmed slightly by Flatley’s presence.
Flatley invented a new form of Irish dance, and when you scroll through his show’s cast, from America and Ireland and Britain, it’s clear that many of his followers have traced his footsteps.
Watching Flatley is like watching Lionel Messi play soccer or Tom Brady play quarterback – you know you are seeing the best, arguably the best ever.
A lovely scene at the end of the show was the appearance of Flatley’s family, wife Niamh and son Michael Junior, on stage.
Young Michael looks a carbon copy of his dad, and one wouldn’t be surprised one day to see a billboard on a Broadway venue billing him in spotlights.
He will have a hard act to follow though.
"Lord of The Dance" is playing at the Lyric Theater on Broadway 213 W 42nd Street (212) 556-4750.