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Dancing like the dickens

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Eileen Murphy

OK, kiddies, gather ’round the hearth and Auntie New will tell you a story.

Once upon a time, in a faraway land called Dublin, there lived a wise couple named Moya Doherty and John McColgan. One day, Moya and John were asked to put together a little diversion to amuse the people of Europe while the votes were being tabulated during a grand festival called the Eurovision Song Contest.

Can you say "Eurovision"? Goooood.

Anyway, they called upon a minstrel named John Whelan to compose some music, and enlisted a pair of airy sprites — no, that’s airy, sweetie, not hairy. . . . Anyway, they found people who could dance like the dickens. And those dancers — a beautiful princess named Jean Butler and a handsome, headband-wearing prince named Michael Flatley — became overnight sensations.

Soon, everyone wanted to see sexy Irish dancing, the kind where girls wore short skirts and men wore blue satin blouses and flapped their arms like they were trying to take flight. Moya and John realized that they were on to something good, and quickly turned the six-minute intermission filler into a full-length extravaganza called "Riverdance: The Show." Dancing teachers were inundated with requests for "Riverdance"-style lessons, and a phenomenon was born.

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Can you say phenomenon? Gooood.

But all was not happy in Dublin. Michael soon grew annoyed that he wasn’t receiving what he considered his proper chor-e-o-graphic credit for the show. Eventually, he and Moya and John couldn’t see eye to eye about anything, and the handsome prince was fired from the show.

Can you say canned like a tuna? Gooood.

Luckily, there was another prince waiting in the wings — a dark-haired sprite who could also dance like the dickens. His name was Colin Dunne, and soon he and Jean were entertaining all the people in the land.

Michael, meanwhile, declared himself "Lord of the Dance" and started touring with his own Celtic extravaganza, one that had dark lords and fairie queens and evil temptresses and a weird golden elf who could only play one song, ad infinitum, on her/his/its flute. Like any true work of art, the show delighted audiences and irritated critics.

Can you say kitschy? Gooood.

All was well in the kingdom with two Irish dance shows on tour. But Michael was still annoyed that he hadn’t received proper chor-e-o-graphic credit or remuneration for his contribution to "Riverdance," so he filed a lawsuit over royalties.

Can you say litigation? Gooood.

The years went by, and both shows sprouted touring companies and made mountains of money. Eventually, Jean Butler and Colin Dunne left "Riverdance" to pursue other interests, and Michael retired from the daily grind of dancing. But the lawsuit dragged on and on and on, until last week, when a wise judge issued a ruling.

Can you say undisclosed settlement? Gooood.

One newspaper reported that the "Riverdance" people were ordered to pay Michael £65 million for his contribution to the show. But this report was challenged by the "Riverdance" spokesperson, who insists that the real amount was in the neighborhood of £1.5 million.

Can you say pyrrhic victory? Gooood.

A few days ago, Jean and Colin, whose dancing feet were itching to hit the stage again, announced that they were putting together their own show. "Dancing on Dangerous Ground" will be a Celtic dance extravaganza based on the Irish myth of Diarmuid and Grainne.

Can you say kitsch . . . oh, you’ve said that already? Gooood.

Colin told the Sunday World, "The whole Irish dancing thing is still so huge, if you want to do something with it you have to create the opportunity for yourself, and that’s what we have done."

Jean and Colin plan to open their show in London this fall before launching a world tour. But for Irish dancers, all roads lead back to Dublin and the Point Depot theater, where it all started so long ago. If things go as planned, "Dancing on Dangerous Ground" will make its way to the Irish capital at the end of next year.

Can you say things have come full circle? Gooood.

B*Witched: bothered and bewildered

You know, the next time you’re feeling down, spare a thought for the poor, perky, peppy pets who form the Irish pop band B*Witched.

They toil, day after day, singing themselves hoarse, dancing till they’re ready to drop, charming all and sundry till they can’t charm no more, and what thanks do they get? Begrudgery! Catcalls! Insults! Really, it’s enough to drive a girl to distraction.

It seems that twin sisters Edele and Keavy Lynch (siblings of Boyzone’s Shane Lynch) are tormented whenever they visit home during rare holiday breaks.

Edele told the Sunday World: "We constantly get jeered on the streets and it wrecks my head.

"Rather than saying, ‘Oh, well done, it’s absolutely brilliant,’ they give you a hard time about it."

But Edele is philosophical about it.

"It’s all just jealousy," she said. "They can’t handle our success. . . . It’s weird that Ireland is the only place that we get that kind of thing. It never happens in England or the States."

Hey, Edele: as the song says, "C’est la vie." Ricky: ‘Restless’ at heart

Irish actor Ricky Paull Goldin, former soap star, former Danny in the Broadway production of "Grease" and former squeeze of former Baywatch chick Yasmeen Bleeth, is getting married.

No, not to Yasmeen — as Austin Powers would have put it, that ship has sailed. Ricky plans to settle down with American actress Priscilla Taylor, whom he met while working in Los Angeles.

Ricky says it’s real love this time, and the couple is planning a big, splashy wedding in sunny California next May.

Ricky hopes his fans will be able to appreciate Priscilla for who she is as a person, and not just as another blonde who has modeled nude for Playboy magazine.

"There’s so much about her that people don’t get to see," he said. We couldn’t help thinking, "Like what, her dental records?"

Briefings

Rumors abound that "Friends" star Jennifer Aniston and our (well, her) hunky honey Brad Pitt may decide to tie the knot in Ireland. The pair visits the country often, and though they’re not confirming anything, Jen says she knows "how beautiful Dublin and the west of Ireland can be. It’s so quiet."

Boyzone’s Ronan Keating is a busy man these days. In addition to releasing a solo single, "When You Say Nothing at All," which shot to the top of the charts and managing up-and-coming popsters WestLife, he’s also teamed up with Belfast singer Brian Kennedy. Their single, "These Days," debuted at No. 5 on the Irish pop charts.

Oasis singer Liam Gallagher and his wife, Patsy Kensit, are the proud parents of a baby boy. The child’s first name is Lennon, in honor of Gallagher’s musical idol, the late Beatle John Lennon.

We thought we’d give you all a break from U2 news for a while, but the band just keeps on chooglin.’

"We’re about two songs away from a classic U2 album," Bono announced last week. "It’s very exciting, you know, to be making a record with this group."

MTV reporter Chris Connelly seemed a little startled by this statement. "When you say classic U2 album . . . " he began.

"Did I just say that?" Bono laughed. "I’m always amazed when I hear . . . because it just slips out, doesn’t it? Just throw in ‘classic’ [when] describing your own music.

"I was born to be a rock star. That just goes with the job. I probably meant ‘classic’ in the sense of, it’s a record that only our group could have made." Oh.

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