FOR THE first time in its 20 year history, over 17,000 people marvelled at the spectacle of Riverdance on the home turf of its composer Bill Whelan at the weekend.
And with many people left scrambling to find tickets at the last minute, after seven sell-out shows, the organisers have not ruled out Riverdance returning to Limerick in the future. “It has been nothing but an absolute positive experience, and as we start our 20th anniversary tour of Riverdance we could not have wished for more.
“It has been fantastic. We were optimistic and hoping that it would be successful, and that it would be a good event for Limerick and for us, but it has far surpassed that. It has been better than we expected,” Julian Erskine, the executive producer of Riverdance told the Limerick Leader last night. He said when he initially suggested six shows, with a target audience of 15,000, “there was a lot of apprehension that that was too big a number to achieve”.
However, in hindsight, he said they easily could added another two shows, and run to nine shows over the week “and we would have filled them all”. “It has been really gratifying, just incredible. The reaction at each of the shows was incredible, and the performers feed off the energy of the audience, as much as they do from them,” he said.
Three shows were held on Saturday - only the second time they have achieved this feat after witnessing similar demand in Japan. In all, 40 performers - including many from Limerick, north Kerry and Tipperary - took part in the production, backed up by 15 crew. A number of the dancers are currently attending the University of Limerick, he added. “It has been an intense few days, but very rewarding. Bill Whelan is thrilled that it’s here in his home town. It has been a complete joy for him.”
Dave Mahedy, manager of the UL Arena, said he was delighted that the show has been such a success in their venue, which previously hosted the visit of the Dalai Lama to Limerick.
“It has just been brilliant, and it has brought so many people here to the Arena that have never been here before.
“The only time we were under pressure was with the extra show on Saturday, when we had to get 2,500 people out and back in again in one hour for the next performance,” he said.
Mayor of Limerick, Cllr Kathleen Leddin, said she thought the show was “absolutely outstanding.”
“It was just what we needed. I can’t say enough about it or be more fullsome in my praise. Everything about it was wonderful, and I can understand why it is such an international success. There is great credit due to Bill Whelan to choose Limerick to kickstart their tour.
“It was so professional, so colourful and so cheerful, with a fantastic atmosphere in the audience. There was so much goodwill towards the show, and towards Limerick, I think.
“Everything worked every smoothly. It was a big venture for UL to be involved in that, and it was perfect venue. They deserve to be congratulated on that and their co-operation with City of Culture.”