Scintillating, fast paced, brilliantly choreographed Irish tap dancing. A strong, rhythmic, ear-pleasing score. Maestros on the fiddle and flute. Elegant and evocative costumes. Mesmersing magic. That is Celtic Illusion Reimagined. This dynamic, spicy and intoxicating hour and a half stage show (excluding interval) is celebrating the 10th anniversary of Celtic Illusion, the vision of creator, director, choreographer and star Anthony Street. The native Victorian was formerly a principal dancer with Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance. His electrifying steps have lost none of their power or panache. Through 20 numbers, he and other members of the 17-strong cast showcase their polish and prowess.
There is no shortage of tap and to me it is just as exhilarating as when I first set eyes upon it in the mid 1990s. That was Riverdance. The 14 dancers in Celtic Illusion Reimagined, headlined by Street and Georgia May, whose professional dance career took off with the show Rhythms of Ireland, are a seriously talented troupe. A series of combinations – solos and duets, all the way up to the full contingent on stage together (my personal favourite) – ensure the repertoire is a heady mix. Interspersed with these numbers are the smooth, haunting and uplifting vocals of Irish singer and songwriter Rebecca Harkin. Fiddle player Shimna Higgins and flautist Rennie Pearson also have their time to shine, individually and collectively.
Costume changes, appearances, disappearances and levitation are part of the seamlessly performed “trickery”, prompting shock and delight from the audience. I briefly referenced the costuming earlier. It is stunning. From black and white, to rich and colourful pieces, and flowing gowns, the changes are frequent and alluring. In fact, there is joy in all we see. The smiles on the artistes’ faces are matched by the pleasure we derive from witnessing them at the top of their game. Clearly, countless hours of hard work have gone into perfecting their craft and they don’t miss a beat. The influences of Bob Fosse, Michael Jackson and Broadway are apparent, but beyond that Anthony Street and co have charted their own path – one well worth treading.
Celtic Illusion Reimaged is on at The Playhouse, Arts Centre Melbourne on 14th May, 2022. It then continues its Australian tour in regional Victoria and beyond. For all dates, go to https://celticillusion.com/tour-dates/australia/
Other reviews you might enjoy:
- The Illusionists: Direct from Broadway
- The Choir of Man – theatre review
- West Side Story (Opera Australia) – theatre review
Alex First is a Melbourne based journalist and communications specialist. He contributes to The Blurb on film and theatre.