Dancing on Dangerous Ground

Previewed 3 December 1999, Opened 6 December 1999, Closed 5 February 2000 at the Drury Lane Theatre Royal

The stars of Riverdance - Colin Dunne and Jean Butler - in their own new sensational Irish dance show Dancing on Dangerous Ground in London for a strictly limited season

The Irish Dance Show that dares to go a step beyond. Celtic legend's most passionate and enduring love story - the tragic romance of Diarmuid and Grainne. Like Romeo and Juliet, like Lancelot and Guinevere, Diarmuid and Grainne become consumed by such overwhelming and reckless desire that the harmony of their world is shattered beyond redemption. Grainne is the beautiful yet wilful daughter of the Irish High King who has chosen to marry Finn McCool, a much older man and the revered leader of Ireland's warrior force, The Fianna. Diarmuid is Finn's most loyal and trusted comrade, dashing and handsome, a man who could set any woman's heart ablaze. On Finn and Grainne's wedding day Diarmuid and Grainne's paths fatefully collide igniting the flames of a wild, illicit passion and so begins their headlong flight into exile where a terrible fat awaits them.

Dancing on Dangerous Ground is devised by Jean Butler and Colin Dunne with music by Seamus Egan and lyrics by Johnny Cunningham.

The cast features Jean Butler 'Grainne' and Colin Dunne 'Diarmuid', with Tony Kemp 'Finn McCool', Glenn Simpson (Dance Captain), Mary Ann Bakke, Aisling Barr, Angela Burns, Cara Butler, Marc Daniels, Michael Donegan, Colleen Farrell, JoEllen Forsyth, Bobby Fox, Sinead Gibbons, Roisin Alana Gilfedder, Joel Hanna, Tara Hegarty, Caitriona Kelly, Maria Kirby, Leanna Leonard, Ciaran Maguire, Ryan McCaffery, Sorcha McCaul, Laura Minogue, Ronan Morgan, Mark O’Donnell, Aisling O’Dwyer, Martin Percival, Stephen Scarriff, Brian Swanton, Martina Stewart and J R Vancheri (Irish Dance Trainer: Olive Burns).

Directed by Lindsay Dolan, with original direction by Ian Judge, choreography by Jean Butler and Colin Dunne, additional choreography by Michael Smith, sets by Tim Hatley, costumes by Frank Gardiner, and lighting by Pat Collins.

Production delays: It was initially announced, in early September 1999, that this production would open on Tuesday 30 November 1999, following public previews from Thursday 25 November. In early November it was announced that this production would delay its opening by six days, and would now open on Monday 6 December 1999, following public previews from Tuesday 30 November. Eight days before public previews where due to start, it was announced that the first three previews (including one matinee) on Tuesday 30 November and Wednesday 1 December 1999 where cancelled, with the first preview now scheduled for Thursday 2 December. On the 24 November it was announced that the front section of the Orchestra Stalls seating would be raised and made flat. During rehearsals it had became apparent that, at certain times during the performance the dancers feet would not have been visible by those sitting in the front Stalls. Although this is inevitible to a certain extent, the producers wished to alleviate this as much as possible, therefore the front section of the stalls where raised and on the flat, rather than being raked. Due to this the ticket prices for these seats where reduced, and ticket holders for those seats where offered an option to either rebook seats, or a partial refund. During the afternoon of Thursday 2 December it was announced that that evening's performance was cancelled "for technical reasons." This would have been the first preview. It was also revealed at the same time that the original director of the production, Ian Judge, had now left, and had been replaced with Lindsay Dolan.

This production was filmed during the last week of it's London run for a video release. Three performances where filmed: Tuesday 2, Wednesday 3 and Thursday 4 February 2000.

"This after-thought of a show will probably go down as the flop of the Nineties. It is a narrative about doomed Celtic lovers built around Jean Butler and Colin Dunne, but the 'stars' have the charisma of drowned rats and as much acting finesse. They were charming in Riverdance, but here seem amateurish. There are no dance fireworks and while both have good leg movement, their upper body motion is stilted and gauche... There is no dramatic tension, only a set of 14 dances, the best always being the set pieces for the lively and committed company of women and men... The slate-grey set and mostly black costumes produce a colourless, sexless and monotonous two hours... The love duets are meaningless, with Butler and Dunne as comfortable with each other as teenagers at their first mixed party. The men are tied up in ropes fashioned into absurd silver bodices. The show is in desperate need of a director and some professional pizzazz." The London Evening Standard

"The setting by Tim Hatley combines a brutal gantry and steel prison, with red romantic sunsets and broad Celtic vistas. At one point, partly thanks to the Kidman connection, the show gathers brilliantly as an echo chamber of Stanley Kubrick's great movie Eyes Wide Shut. Briefly, the clamorous, head-banging ritual of tedious music and wailing becomes a strange, orgiastic commentary on the love story. But then it subsides into its unambitious format. There is no dynamic in the story, no variation in the noise." The Daily Mail

"In Dancing On Dangerous Ground Jean Butler and Colin Dunne and their talented company tap and stomp with great precision to the mostly pre-recorded music of Seamus Egan, but there are only so many steps you can do to diddley-diddley music and soulful laments and I feel I've seen them all. Perhaps this art form should be an Olympic event rather than an entertainment, in which case I would award gold medals all round. But Lindsay Dolan's production, which retells a legend about a nubile bride who leaves her older husband for a young buck with tragic consequences, struggles for credibility." The News of the World

Dancing on Dangerous Ground in London at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane previewed from 3 December 1999, opened on 6 December 1999, and closed on 5 February 2000.