Lord of the Dance Pantsed In New France

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Michael Flatley takes his latest show Celtic Tiger on an 11-city tour of Canada, and the Canucks slap him upside his toque. Are our neighbors to the north steamed by the show's crabbed tour of Irish history, its serving up of blarney in amounts deemed lethal by the World Health Organization, its seeming endorsement of sexual harrassment of flight attendents, its all-around Flatleyness? No, it's the Riverdance king's evident pro-Americanism. Says one negative reviewer:

…Celtic Tiger slams into a brick wall. In an obvious effort to impress his American audience, Captain Flatley appears in an airline uniform to fly us to the new world.

I know. I know. The traditional link between Ireland and America is strong but we come expecting an evening of Irish dance and we get the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders—or at least a Vegas babe who performs a sizzling strip tease right down to her skimpy stars-and-stripes underwear.

Then, in quick succession, a series of Latin, jive flamenco, tap and hip-hop dancers strut their stuff. A young lady right out of American Idol sings a pop song about "how your love gives me freedom."

"What has that got to do with Irish dance," groused the lady sitting next to me.

At one point, Flatley, who was brought up in Chicago, morphs into a Yankee Doodle Dandy complete with Uncle Sam outfit.

The great moves and vague but interesting story of the first act deteriorates into a Vegas variety show—a kitschy cabaret of Irish-American jingoism including huge portraits of such well-known American Irishmen as Pierce Brosnan, Liam Neeson and Jack Kennedy. I still don't get the fuzz guitar solo behind an overly familiar travelogue of the great American heartland.

At the end, in a rather obvious bow to where he is, Flatley's guitarist plays O Canada. He used his teeth as a guitar pick… Michael Flatley should concentrate more on his feet of fire and less on waving the flag.

Says another:

…[w]hat starts out as a first-rate production suddenly dissolves in the second act into a cheesy testimonial to the good ol' U.S.A.

It opens with a flight attendant who, after being groped by Flatley and his group of pilots, decides to strip down to her American flag-decorated bra and underwear.

Later Flatley changes into pinstripes and a fedora to play a mobster in what can only be seen as a fallacious illustration of America's criminal history before joining the rest of the cast for the show's overly patriotic finale set to Yankee Doodle Dandy.

The show ends with the entire cast kicking up its heels while video of famous Irish Americans plays in the background.

While Celtic Tiger will certainly will be well-received in the U.S., it's over-the-top pro-American sentiment misses its mark here.

That's not to say Calgarians didn't enjoy the show, but it's likely their applause last night was directed more at Flatley's talented dancers than towards the story or its creator himself.

(Easy, Canadians! I know Calgary wasn't part of New France! But the show played Montreal too, and I'm sure there were reviewers there who, like our man in Calgary, discerned from the crowd's applause that they actually didn't like the show.)

So, as in 1812, another American invasion force limps home from the land of the Maple Leaf. But don't expect Flatley to be staring glumly down at his Feet of Flame. Thus speaks the Lord of the Dance:

"Life isn't about the number of times you're knocked down, it's about the number of times you get back up."

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  1. The whole show sounds like a big, seeping eyesore.

  2. Crow: Ladies and Gentlemen! Michael Nelson IS Lord Of The Dance!!!

    Gypsy: Oooooooooooh! Did the other one die?

    Crow: I don’t know…

  3. I think that should read “”Life isn’t about the number of times you’re knocked down, it’s about the number of times you get knocked up.”

  4. I thought Stewie Griffin would have killed Michael Flatley by now. I remember Stewie adding his name to the list.

  5. ha ha ha, canadians are such suckers. what did you want, a tribute to Canada? sorry, you will always be that place to the north trying to be relevant.

  6. I thought the recent TV commercial for Midas brakes demonstrates conclusively that “Feet of Flame” are what Fred Flinstone gets after a panic stop.

    “Yabba dabba Yabba dabba dabba doo now.”

  7. This sounds almost good enough for Kim Jung-il to have written and produced it. Just when I write that nothing in America can compare to the bloated propaganda of a North Korean military rock opera!

    Whatever happened to that Vegas show where spacemen use the power of Queen’s rock ‘n’ roll to save the universe? Did that ever get off the ground?

  8. I agree with smacky. Sounds perfectly dreadful. Maybe it’s not the pro-U.S. that’s a problem, it’s the cheesiness of the pro-U.S. that’s the complaint. Sort of like a dance version of that “Amerikuh, We Stand as One” video that made the rounds a while back.

    And for the record, I have seen audiences applaud, even wildly, for stuff they didn’t like. Why? I dunno, maybe out of politeness to the performers, or a sense that since they paid $50, it must have been really really great, or it wouldn’t have been so expensive.

  9. Whatever happened to that Vegas show where spacemen use the power of Queen’s rock ‘n’ roll to save the universe? Did that ever get off the ground?

    Jesus, what’s next? KISS Saves Christmas?

  10. When I first read about this, it sounded awful. Now that I find out it’s pissing off uptight Canadians, I’ve changed my mind.

  11. Hmm, interesting point, Josh.

  12. While Celtic Tiger will certainly will be well-received in the U.S., it’s over-the-top pro-American sentiment misses its mark here.

    Yeah, ’cause the Broadway crowd is super patriotic…

  13. I don’t think I’ve seen the term “Irish-American jingoism” before. …I googled it, and most of the top links seem to reference this show.

    I saw a brief preview of the show–I think it was on Sunday Morning–and as I remember, the show made liberal use of James Cagney.

    …If dancing to James Cagney singing “I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy” is the extent of “Irish-American jingoism”, then I guess I’m just not alarmed.

  14. Sounds as if Flatley is fixin to take his show to Branson and take on the Shoji Tabuchi Show.

  15. In the setup, did somebody confuse a toke with a torque with a toque?
    As a person of Celtic ethnicity, I’m sensitive…

  16. Oh, pooh on that review and his crochety old stick in the mud of an audience neighbor.

    You go to see Michael Flatley, you know you’re going to see cheese.

    And there’s nothing wrong with him making his show pro-American either, even if it’s not en vogue to do so.

    Flatley should tell those whiny Canadians, “Bite me!”

  17. Meaahh, Flatley sucks, but Canadians are the some of the most pissy, whiny nationalists out there. It just goes to show you that even something as lame as this snagged their pride against Americans (if the Chinese or some other team did a standard performance that exhorted the homeland I’m pretty sure our neighbors up north wouldn’t even have noticed).
    I’m actually kinda glad that some well placed jingoism got on their nerves. 🙂

  18. “Lord of the Dance Pantsed In New France”

    And does this imply he began his act unpantsed? Who was complaining again?

  19. I was in London last September and I was railroaded into seeing that Queen musical “We Will Rock You in the West End (or whatever End it is that shows expensive, over-the-top shmaltz). It’s the worst piece of entertainment ever — worse than any episode of Cop Rock or Shriekback record. Imagine Queen songs done in a show tuney song-and-dance mode, with a hastily constructed script about a futuristic corporate oligarchy that controls all, which regime is brought down by a plucky gang of teens that is inspired to “break free” by some sacred “ancient texts” (Queen cassette tapes). Holy shit it’s bad. And people were pumping their fists in delight at the end.

    I’d be in favor of an all-powerful corporate oligarchy if they’d outlaw the musical medium altogether.

  20. Was Michael Flatley ever relevant? More importantly, why’s everybody gotta hate on Canada? It’s like picking on the fat kid. That’s not cool.

    Sort of like a dance version of that “Amerikuh, We Stand as One” video that made the rounds a while back.

    I felt a lot better about that video when I found a copy on ifilm.com that had been put to America: Fuck Yeah! from Team America.

  21. What I’m really looking forward to is Hit and Run: The Musical. I hear Sandy Duncan is starring as Gary Gunnels.

  22. I agree with linguist. Flatley is cheese and about as traditionally Irish as a box of Lucky Charms. The Canadians only complaint seems to be that Flatley tried to exploit both American and Irish nationalism, while the Canadians prefered just the later exploitation.

  23. KISS Saves Christmas?

    Someone kidnapped Santa? That does not rock!

    And for the record, that Lord of the Dance show does sound terrible but did you expect something else?

  24. If the US has to permanently host Celine Dion and her sugary spam spectacle, Canadians should be able to quietly suffer through a few of Flatley’s cornball, Yankee McDoodle shows.

  25. As that great Irish-American, George M. Cohan, said,”many a bum show has been saved by the flag.”

  26. Jesus, what’s next? KISS Saves Christmas?

    Shhh!! Gene Simmons might read this and get an idea.

    I thought that a “Celtic Tiger” was the hangover you get after you’ve had one too many Snakebites to drink. Not that I would know anything about that…

  27. Americans can’t be happy unless a durned furrener is annoyed by American Patriotism. So now Americans can love Flatley on two levels.

    You think Canadians are all pissy? Let me tell you about Albanians. Hah. Trying to be “relevant.” So sad. So damned uptight. You’d think they were Armenians or something.

    Hellbound “all Americans are idiots” Alleee

  28. I’ve lived on the North Coast most my life. Laughing at the Canadian national apoplexy over not being American, has been as dependable and delightful as the colors of autumn. However, since dubya took office I’m starting to take the Canadians a lot more seriously.

  29. B.P.
    Your review, oddly enough, made me want to see it even more.

  30. “As that great Irish-American, George M. Cohan, said,”many a bum show has been saved by the flag.””

    In Britain many a bum show has been saved by showing “bums.”
    Could I get an AMEN?

  31. we come expecting an evening of Irish dance and we get the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders – or at least a Vegas babe who performs a sizzling strip tease right down to her skimpy stars-and-stripes underwear.

    He says that like its a bad thing.

    AMEN!

  32. Anywhere but Rue Ste. Catherine, RC, they think it is.

  33. If I’d gone to see this of my own free will, I certainly wouldn’t have the gaul to complain about it afterward, whether I was paid to or not. What did he expect?

  34. R C,

    First and foremost, fuck the Dallas Cowboys. Especially their cheerleaders, but in a much different way…

    Second, is it wrong to crank one out thinking about a babe wearing the American flag over her coochy parts? Wouldn’t Dubya and his ilk have a born-again, nationalist hissy fit about this?

  35. First and foremost, fuck the Dallas Cowboys.

    Hear, Hear!

    …and may I add, we’re gonna crush San Francisco this week!

  36. Why does Michael Flately love America?

    Seriously, if this is how he loves the USA I want him to stop and love Cuba or something.

    Someone kidnapped Santa? That does not rock! I believe quasi-retired pro-wrestler and conservative weirdo Jim “Ultimate Warrior” Hellwig did that. Do a search for Ultimate Warrior+comic+Santa and be horrified.

    In Britain many a bum show has been saved by showing “bums.”
    Carry on then, Benny Hill.

  37. Shecky:

    Outdo the Shoji Tabuchi Show??? Never! His hair is a shining helmet that no jig dancing shoe could ever penetrate.

    However, I think the Celtic Tiger should take on that Dolly Parton dinner theater where guys in Confederate and Union uniforms race ostriches around the show floor.

    God, I love this country!

  38. FIDDELYFIDDELYFIDDELYFIDDELY
    FIDDELYFIDDELYFIDDELYFIDDELY
    FIDDELYFIDDELYFIDDELYFIDDELY
    FIDDELYFIDDELYFIDDELYFIDDELY

    (I’m Irish, folks. You’ve seen us at weddings, and we don’t dance like that…)

  39. One thing I never got about stars ‘n stipes underwear: why is it considered a compliment whenever someone essentially wipes the american flag on their ass?

  40. “why is it considered a compliment whenever someone essentially wipes the american flag on their ass?”

    Well, for VFW and American Legion-types who are insanely obsessed with protecting The Flag it’s not considered a compliment.

  41. Fuck Canada.

    It needed to be said and no one else did it.

  42. Just a matter of personal taste here, but for me any group of more than about five Irish musicians playing at once starts to sound cheezy in the extreme. These giant ‘Celtic’ stage shows make me wonder if Liberace didn’t at some point have a little side career going as a gigolo in Dublin.

  43. Well, maybe considering that many Canadians are of Irish descent, and that the term “Celtic Tiger” is a nickname for modern Ireland and its booming economy — just maybe they were expecting a show that celebrated Ireland rather than those damnable Yanks.
    (But, of course, this was a Michael Fartley show, so you should know going in that you’re going to get an unhealthy dose of this gasbag’s exhaust. On the other hand, I can’t just point my finger and laugh at the stupid Canadians; I once paid good money to see “Cats”.)

  44. Ugh, another let’s-beat-up-on-Canada thread. Yawn.

  45. On the other hand, I can’t just point my finger and laugh at the stupid Canadians; I once paid good money to see “Cats”.

    Ha, ha.

  46. keith,

    Is Shoji Tabuchi managed by the same company that manages Shoyu Weenie?

    Why do I want to know this.? Uhhh… hell, I don’t know.

  47. keith,

    Is Shoji Tabuchi managed by the same company that manages Shoyu Weenie?

    Why do I want to know this.? Uhhh… hell, I don’t know.

  48. Shoyu Weenie? Oh please, grow up.

  49. C’mon, it’s funny because it works on so many levels simultaneously. There’s the fact that it could be a real stage name, the slightly blue pun, and, given the fact that shoyu is the Japanese word for Soy sauce, the cocktail weenie angle. It takes skill to be that juvenile and clever at the same time.

  50. Pierce Brosnan and Liam Neeson are American Irishmen? That’ll be news to them.

    Incidentally, the plot of that Queen show was pretty much stolen from the classic Rush album 2112. Rush are Canadian. But Rush are great, so I forgive them.

  51. Shrivel and die, American Imperialist scum. Keep your fucked-up spangled propaganda to your own country.

    The United States – Worst Developed Country in the World :
    http://www.objectivethought.com/libertarian/main/usworst.html

  52. After glancing at Francois’ site, I think we should spend a few billion dollars to cover the face of the moon with giant letters that say “USA No. 1!”

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