The Long Goodbye: The “Riverdance: Farewell Tour” Returns to Raleigh Memorial Auditorium … Again

"Riverdance" will bid Raleigh adieu -- for the third time -- on May 25-27
"Riverdance" will bid Raleigh adieu -- for the third time -- on May 25-27
"Riverdance" will bid Raleigh adieu -- for the third time -- on May 25-27
"Riverdance" will bid Raleigh adieu -- for the third time -- on May 25-27

Broadway Series South is bringing Riverdance: The Farewell Tour, that thunderous — and truly spectacular — celebration of Irish music, song, and dance, back to Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts for five (more) farewell performances on May 25-27. Having introduced Irish stepdancing to much of the world where it was heretofore unknown and thereby delighted millions of people around the globe, the show embarked on its current North American Farewell Tour way back in 2008. (Riverdancefirst bid Raleigh adieu on April 29-May 4, 2008; and said goodbye again to Broadway Series South patrons again on May 4-9, 2010.)

Even now, the demand for tickets in the United States and Canada may still be so great that Riverdance may not end its long goodbye to North American audiences on June 17, 2012 at the Filene Center at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts in Vienna, VA, where the tour was scheduled to end — a month after it last played Raleigh — on June 6, 2010.

According to Broadway Series South:

“‘When we opened Riverdance in New York in March 1996, we never thought for one minute that our show would still be running 15 years later,’ said [Riverdance producer] Moya Doherty. ‘[Four] years ago, we embarked on our farewell tour, saying good-bye to every city in North America we have ever played in over the years; and … June 17th in our 16th year, this current production of Riverdance will end and we will say our final good-bye. It has been a source of immense pride for me as producer that America took Riverdance to its heart to such an amazing extent and I would like to pay tribute to every dancer, musician, singer and all the crew and staff who served Riverdance so well over the years. ‘

“The show that started it all, Riverdance, has been performing in the United States since March 1996, when it had its U.S. premiere at Radio City Music Hall in New York. Since then, the show has tapped its way onto the world stage thrilling millions of people around the globe.

“While the touring production in the U.S. will close on June 17, 2012, productions of Riverdance will continue to tour the world.

“From Los Angeles to Louisville, Seattle to Boston, Chicago to Chattanooga or Memphis to Miami, the power of Riverdance — its music and more than 50 stomping feet — has captured the hearts of millions.

Two "Riverdance" trademarks are its invigorating musical accompaniment -- often played on traditional Irish instruments -- and light-footed choreography
Two "Riverdance" trademarks are its invigorating musical accompaniment -- often played on traditional Irish instruments -- and light-footed choreography

“Composed by Bill Whelan, produced by Moya Doherty, and directed by John McColgan, to date, Riverdancehas played over 10,000 performances, been seen live by more than 22 million people in over 350 venues throughout 40 countries across 4 continents. They have traveled well over 600,000 miles (or to the Moon and back!), played to a worldwide television audience of 2 billion; sold over 3 million copies of the Grammy Award-winning CD (certified Platinum in the U.S.) and over 10 million videos making it one of the best-selling entertainment videos in the world!

Riverdance had its world premiere at the Point Theatre, Dublin, in February 1995, where it opened to unanimous critical acclaim. What began as a seven-minute dance segment on the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest (televised to over 300 million people throughout Europe) and then quickly turned into a full-scale production has become much more than an international theatrical success.

‘I believe Riverdance has been basically a pathfinder,’ said Niall O’Dowd, founder of Irish America Magazine and the Irish Voice newspaper. Along with the peace process in Northern Ireland and the economic miracle in Ireland proper, the show ‘has been a hugely important part of a transformation of the image of Ireland in the last 20 years.’

“In a flash, Riverdance became Ireland’s greatest ambassador and the thirst began. Riverdance changed the face of Irish dance and despite its imitators, has remained on top and was voted the #1 Variety/Family Entertainment Show in the U.S. (1998).

“There have been many milestones along the way including the distinction of being the largest Western musical to play China; a record-breaking line of 100 Irish dancers mesmerizing 85,000 people at the 2004 Special Olympics in Dublin; a 15th Anniversary celebration at Radio City Music Hall; dancing in Red Square and on the Great Wall of China; two SRO [Standing Room Only] engagements in South Africa; and much more.

“Of all the performances to emerge from Ireland in the past decade, nothing can compare to the energy, the sensuality and the spectacle of Riverdance. An innovative and exciting blend of dance, music and song, Riverdance draws on Irish traditions and the combined talents of the performers propel Irish dancing and music to the present day capturing the imagination of audiences across all ages and cultures. This extraordinarily unique show features an international company all performing to the magic of Bill Whelan’s music.”

Lead dancers for the Shannon Company for Riverdance, which is performing in Raleigh, include Caterina Coyne, Alana Mallon, Chloey Turner, James Greenan, Jason O’Neill, and Callum Spencer. Featured singers include soloist Benjamin Mapp (“Freedom”). In addition to its Irish Dance Troupe, led by dance captain Maeve Croke, the show features flamenco dancer Marita Martinez-Rey, and tap-dancers Benjamin Mapp and Jason E. Bernard.

The Riverdance Band features musical director Declan Masterson (keyboards), Mark Alfred (drums/percussion/Bodhrán), Matt Bashford (Uilleann pipes/low whistle/tin whistle), Niamh Ní Charra (fiddle/concertina), and Dave McGauran (saxophone).

SECOND OPINION: May 23rd Raleigh, NC “Out & About” blog by Kathy Hanrahan:

Broadway Series South presents RIVERDANCE: FAREWELL TOUR at 7:30 p.m. May 25 and 2 and 7:30 p.m. May 26 and 27 in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27601.

TICKETS: $28.60-$87.85 (including fees).


Progress Energy Center Box Office: 919-996-8700 or (information only).

Ticketmaster: 800-745-3000 or

GROUP RATES (10+ tickets): 919-996-8707,, or SHOW:


STUDY GUIDE: Uploads/Riverdance study guide.pdf.






The Musical: (official website), (Wikipedia), (Internet Broadway Database), and (Internet Movie Database).

The North American Tour (Shannon Company): (official website).


Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This preview is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.

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By Robert W. McDowell

Robert W. McDowell is a Raleigh, NC-based freelance writer, editor, and critic. He has written theater, film, book, and music previews and reviews for The News & Observer, The Raleigh Times, Spectator Magazine, and Classical Voice of North Carolina, all based in Raleigh. In 1980-91, he covered business, industry, government, and education for (We the People of) North Carolina magazine, published monthly by N.C. Citizens for Business and Industry. In April 2001, McDowell started Robert's Reviews, a FREE weekly e-mail newsletter that provides comprehensive, in-depth coverage of the performing arts in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina, which includes Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and Carrboro. Triangle Review is the latest-and-greatest version of McDowell's original newsletter. (To start your FREE subscription, e-mail robertm748[at] and type SUBSCRIBE TR in the Subject: line.) From December 1980 until September 2017, McDowell served on the board of directors of The Cinema, Inc., a Raleigh-based nonprofit film society formed in 1966. He currently publishes a weekly list of FREE advance screenings of movies in the Triangle area. (To have your e-mail address added to this FREE list, e-mail robertm748[at] and type SUBSCRIBE FFL FREE in the Subject: line.) McDowell also co-edited and supervised the production of Jim Valvano's Guide to Great Eating (JTV Enterprises, 1984), a 224-page sports celebrity cookbook; and he served as a fact checker for Valvano: They Gave Me a Lifetime Contract, and Then They Declared Me Dead (Pocket Books, 1991).