|"Heartbeat of Home" debuted in Dublin this week.
“Heartbeat of Home” is “Riverdance” for the millennial generation, a souped-up, blink and you’ll miss it, dance extravaganza that will thrive in the age of Twitter and Instagram.
“Riverdance” was a Mercedes, smooth as silk; this is an amped-up Ferrari roaring through the stage from the moment the curtain rises
The world debut is taking place in Dublin this week and I was delighted to catch the Saturday night show, which played to a packed house at the Bord Gais theater.
The tale of emigration unfolds first on the Ocean of Dreams after Famine times with spectacular background effects of the wild Atlantic ocean.
Later in modern day America there is a sudden shift to rap and salsa and tango and cuban dance intertwined with what I can only describe as violent Irish dancing.
John McColgan and Moya Doherty, the creators of “Riverdance, “ have done it again and while there will never be another “Riverdance,” “Heartbeat of Home” will appeal to a whole new generation.
There is one truly magical moment in the show, early in the second act, where you are transported on a beam carrying Irish and other workers, based on that famous shot of 11 men having lunch atop a skyscraper.
The visual effect of how this scene is created is truly stunning and the audience was held rapt as you almost felt your were suspended in space like in the original photograph.
Right after there is a long dream sequence where the background camera pans across the American continent following the flight of a sea eagle. The impact after the previous driving New York skyline scene is hypnotic.
“Heartbeat of Home” also plays fast and loose with the band, not hiding them away in a pit or off to the side, but having them mingle and perform alongside the dancers so several times you think a high kicking dancer will surely kick the trombone player by accident. More than I have seen, the band is the match for the dance performers on the night too
It is hijinks, high energy and high kicks. The second act, in particular, is worth the price of admission alone with a dizzying series of interlocking scenes that bring us to modern day America, a street party, the men on a beam scene, the wild blue yonder scene a wedding, a solo song called “The Night I Danced with You” that will surely be a hit and a hardshoe acapella that is better than anything I have ever seen.
The crowd was roaring and stomping along at that point and just when you thought the show was over the band returned for an exuberant after-hours session that sent the punters home very happy.
The show will come to Chicago and North America in the New Year and is sure to take off here I think. I was wary of a “Riverdance” Mark 2 which was sure to pale in comparison but this resembles the hit show “Stomp” more that “Riverdance,” especially in that hectic second act.
Catch it if you’re Irish or even American.