Just when “Rhythm in the Night” began to feel
like a theatrical misstep, the show took a turn for the better and redeemed itself, even bringing the audience to its feet upon the dancers’ final bow.
Before I go any further, let me admit I wasn’t the most objective candidate to review a recent performance of “Rhythm in the Night,” given the fact I’d previously interviewed the dance show’s creator, and that I’d been reading reviews of the show for the last two years.
And some of those reviews were, let’s just say, less than kind.
So, with a group of friends from my Irish dance class, I headed to Shea’s Performing Arts Center in downtown Buffalo on Tuesday night with jaded expectations and an acute awareness of how maintaining objectivity would be a challenge.
The first few dances were -- as some reviews had suggested -- overwhelmingly reminiscent of “Lord of the Dance,” from the costumes to the good-versus-evil storyline. The choreography, too. The dancer playing the “bad girl” executed one too many hair-flicks and sexy writhing movements to ignore the similarity to Gillian Norris’ iconic portrayal the devilish dancing diva in “Lord of the Dance.”
Regardless of the similarities to “Lord,” “Rhythm” wasn’t as tidy as it’s predecessor. Some dancers kicked higher than others; some dancers held their arms neatly at their sides, while a few rogue steppers let arms flail; and on a couple occasions, dancers messed up their steps all together.
I was having trouble paying attention to the show because I was just so distracted by the missteps -- literally and figuratively -- happening across the stage.
By mid-show intermission, I’d thought I made up my mind that I’d agreed with the reviews I’d read before. But then the second half of the show happened, and “Rhythm” redeemed itself.
The second half wasn’t perfect, but it was undeniably entertaining, and it was a huge improvement from the first half. The storyline began moving, and the dancers better displayed their personalities and high skill level. It’s as if a fire had been lit beneath their feet, propelling the show forward with a burst of life.
The lead “bad guy” (played by Justin Boros, a burly, muscular dancer who created and directed the show) showed a different, endearing side to his character in an unexpected plot twist. The “good girl” (Ann Profeta) floated effortlessly around the stage, displaying a gracefulness and cheer that charmed the show-goers. And the “good guy” (Michael Roberson) dropped the Michael Flatley act and came into his own on stage, demonstrating his agility and strength as a step dancer.
The troupe of dancers pulled it together, reinforcing their right to be on the stage. Their overall energy spiked, and the audience responded with loud hoots and cheers.
At the end of the performance, the small -- maybe a quarter of Shea’s seats were filled -- audience rose to its feet, applauding the dancers on what was clearly an entertaining performance.
“Rhythm” has its kinks to work out, but it’s no hopeless case by any means. Compared to what I’d read in older reviews, the show has improved. Bets are, it will keep getting better.
“Rhythm in the Night’s” current U.S. tour runs through April 6. For more information, visit the show’s official site, rhythminthenight.com.
Here’s the trailer: