(Laura Thompson's article appeared in the Telegraph, 9/4.)
This show at the London Palladium, a sort of Riverdance Greatest Hits, is billed as Michael Flatley’s final West End appearance. I very much hope that, Sinatra-like, he keeps coming back to say goodbye. The stage needs people like Flatley. When he emerges towards the end of the performance – the entire evening being a kind of foreplay before he does so – with one click of the heels he turns a nice, normal, docile audience into a crowd of raving lunatics. That is some gift. I also love his immodesty, the way he scorns the bashful, beanie-wearing act that so many stars now adopt.
Actually, to be a star you have to be confident and driven and ruthlessly self-promoting. Flatley, bless the man, doesn’t bother to hide the fact.
What he has done, with Irish dancing, is comparable to what André Rieu has done with orchestras. He has made it showbusiness. When I was a child doing dance competitions, I remember that there was always a collection of girls twirling earnestly in their green with their arms glued to their sides. Who could have dreamed that that this slightly dull spectacle would flower into an extravaganza that sold out Madison Square Gardens and, to quote the great man, ‘broke box office records all over the world’?