STORY WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
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There are whispers this may be a farewell tour for Michael Flatley, who first became a household name in 1994 with the Irish dance extravaganza “Riverdance.”
Tom Cunningham — who plays the villainous Dark Lord in Flatley’s new production, “Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games” — addressed the speculation during a phone interview. “Nothing’s set in stone. Michael’s always going to be there; he’s extremely hands on,” he said.
Cunningham described the show as “a kind-of logical extension of the original (1996) ‘Lord of the Dance’ show,” featuring new music composed by Gerard Fahy, new costumes, new sets and “the big, bold signature moves of ‘Lord of the Dance’.”
“The story line differs, but it doesn’t stray too far from the original roots,” he said. “The ‘dark side’ costumes have upped the ante.”
It brings an early St. Patrick’s Day to the Wells Fargo Center on Feb. 28.
When asked what was up with the shirtless photos of the Lords on the cast page of www.lordofthedance.com, Cunningham laughed: “There are one or two parts in the show where the shirts do have to come off. The crowd goes absolutely wild.”
According to Cunningham, “Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games” set a record with 24 consecutive sold out shows at Wembley Stadium in London last year. “It brings me a sense of pride to bring a slice of Irish culture and Irish dance to audiences all over the globe,” he said.
“Michael’s the one that put Irish dancing on the map. There were no Irish dancing shows touring the globe (before “Riverdance”), and now there are several. He’s just a creative man, and wants to bring the ‘Lord of the Dance’ brand forward,” Cunningham said of Flatley, adding that his reputation as a hard worker is true. Flatley holds a fastest feet world record for 35 taps in a second.
He remembered his knees knocking with nervousness when he first met Flatley. But when the time to start dancing in his shows, Flatley said to him: “Don’t worry; we’re going to have a great time working together. The important thing for you to do is work hard.”