It’s been a long time coming, but finally I’ve been out out. Yes, out in the evening, with a friend, rather than just a lunch with N because we’re out somewhere. And now, after so long with Covid restrictions and cancellations, I’ve been back to the theatre to see the Riverdance 25th Anniversary Show at Oxford New Theatre.
The last theatre performance I went to was A Chorus Line at Warwick Arts Centre, back in January 2020. 2020 was going to be my year of theatre. I’d booked 5 shows – musicals or dance shows – through the year and was looking back to getting back and enjoying the theatre before I also planned to get back to dance myself. The year didn’t quite turn out like that, with Covid closing theatres, postponing and cancelling shows left, right and centre.
Of the 5 shows I’d booked, one was cancelled and moved to an online show. It wasn’t the same (contemporary dance definitely needs to be watched live) and I don’t think I even got through the whole show. 1 was cancelled, not to be put back on. For the other 3 the wait was on to hear when tickets would be moved to.
Although theatres had been back open socially distanced for a while, I wasn’t keen to get back in the audience for a long time. I didn’t want to be sitting close to others I don’t know, in a hot stuffy theatre. So I was happy to wait for a long time to get back into a show.
The wait was long. One show was confirmed for October, after 2 proposed dates were also pushed back. Another show still doesn’t know when it will happen, and the other is now 2023! Shows I’m booked in for are those on UK tours, so not only do they need to compete for dates with other shows in one theatre, they’re trying to push back a whole tour of dates and theatres, as well as fitting around shows that are already in the diary for 2021, 2022 and further in the future.
Riverdance 25th Anniversary show
October came and I wasn’t too sure how I’d be feeling about being back indoors with hundreds of other people. But ATG theatres were doing all they could to keep everyone safe. Everyone had to show proof of covid status – double vaccination, negative lateral flow tests or proof of having had and recovered from Covid. We did lateral flow tests for a bit of confidence, as well as our proof of covid vaccination.
Everyone was in masks for the queue outside the theatre, but once inside most people removed them. I kept mine on – but only the 2 people in front of us wore them too. We were lucky as we had empty seats on either side of us. It meant we had a bit of room and more air space between us and the next people. It did get really hot and stuffy in the theatre.
I’ve seen Riverdance twice before. Once, way back when I was a child right in the first phases of its fame and tours. Then the (claimed) last ever tour. Of course now there’s an anniversary, the show was back, and with a friend who was keen to see it too, we were happy to be back.
Each tour has slight differences. The Riverdance 25th Anniversary Show has a soprano saxophone with violin, rather than the 2 violinists of previous shows. Different sets, but the same music, similar costumes, and the same brilliant dancing and haunting singing. The 2 tap dancers went down brilliantly as usual, and I always find the flamenco stunning – so strong and powerful, while still feminine.
The irish dancing is as precise as it’s always been and the 2 leads were excellent. I think the male lead had better presence than the female, I preferred the previous show’s female lead I saw, but this one was still a great dancer.
I think I’ve had my fill of Riverdance shows now. There’s only so many ‘last evers’ you can see, but it really is a spectacular and I find I can’t take my eyes off the stage throughout the show. It’s absorbing, and makes me want to try some irish dancing. It takes me back to Buckinghamshire Arts Council dance shows we used to do in my youth, when our dance school always seemed to share a changing room with a group of Irish dancers with their hair always in rollers on arrival, and their beautiful dresses.
It was lovely to be back out in the theatre, plus a nice pre-theatre meal and lots of catching up with my friend. I’ve got 2 shows to look forward too once those dates come round again. And I’ve spotted another ballroom and latin style show I’m thinking of getting tickets for. I just need to find friends who want to see the same shows that I do. I’ll happily go to the theatre or ballet on my own, but it’s more fun with someone else. After all, it’s much nicer to be able to go for a meal beforehand and make it more of an event.
Have you been back to the theatre again? How much have your existing booked shows been impacted by being postponed or cancelled?