A tribute to the legendary Irish dance show
The Story So Far...
Instead, there are several beautiful songs and a number of instrumentals that help set the tone of the show. This disc does a good job of balancing the different types of entertainment, while still recognizing that it's called "Riverdance," not "Riversing." The disc doesn't present the show as a whole, but through some slick editing, various casts are represented. Inside a single segment, the dance cuts back and forth between a number of different dancers. It can be a bit confusing at times, as costumes can be similar, but it's probably the best way to represent the show's lengthy run.
Among the 18 parts of the DVD are memorably bits like "Riverdance's" beginnings on the Eurovision TV competition, the show's opening number, "Reel Around the Sun," and crowd pleasers like "Thunderstorm," the face-off style "Trading Taps" and the show-stopping "Heartland." If you've heard part of the show, you'll recognize it here.
Because the segments don't run together or in order, a host was needed to tie everything together. That host is one of the show's original superstars, lead dancer Jean Butler. As a dancer, she was reminiscent of an Irish Nicole Kidman, and now, years later, she's still very good looking, and does well at explaining what's happening in each dance or song.
While the linking segments with Butler are appreciated for the context they provide to the disconnected segments, on their own, they just underline how pretentious the show's themes could be. Listening to her describe arcane Irish mythology while waiting for another dance is like having to put up with the poetry that goth girl in your English class wrote, only because you want to make out with her. Get with the dancing, woman! Often, her explanations could have come straight out of This is Spinal Tap.
Because the big hits are all included, and all the big names are represented, this collection is a perfect way to get a taste of the show or to have an excellent trip down memory road. The ending is a bit stretched out, with several curtain calls compiled into a lengthy finale, but before that, the DVD captures the energy, talent and beauty of the show. Unfortunately, that kind of effort should have probably been made back a while, sometime between the show's skyrocketing popularity and it's eventual status as a comic whipping boy. Sure, the 10th anniversary is good timing, but the show doesn't come close to the popularity it once enjoyed. Then again, maybe the DVD can spark some sort of renaissance. Heck, it worked for "Family Guy."
The audio, presented in a decent 2.0 track or a more dynamic 5.1 track. The surround mix is somewhat artificial, with the rear speakers mimicking the front speakers, and no real power from what should be a bass-heavy soundtrack. The sound is strong and clear, but not what one would expect from a show like this.
"'Riverdance': The Crew: In-Show-Out," is, in concept, pretty cool. It's a time-lapse look at how the stage-show is physically put together and then taken apart, as shot in Japan in 2003, and scored with a pretty energetic set of instrumental rock tracks. Unfortunately, this effort takes so long, 16 minutes in all, that it loses its novelty well before it finishes.
Also included on this disc is an eight-minute performance of "Riverdance (Cloudsong)," from the opening ceremonies of the 2003 Summer World Special Olympics, featuring the longest Irish step-dancing line in history. As a special bonus, the performers are introduced by Irishman extraordinaire Pierce Brosnan and Butler. The footage is oddly cut on top and bottom, likely because it was blown-up from a standard TV transfer, but the song and dance are so good, its not that distracting in the end.
The Bottom Line