OFF BEAT

OFFBEAT: New 'Heartbeat of Home' dance tour electrifying entertainment

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2014-03-07T00:00:00Z OFFBEAT: New 'Heartbeat of Home' dance tour electrifying entertainmentBy Philip Potempa philip.potempa@nwi.com, (219) 852-4327 nwitimes.com

Male dance lead Bobby Hodges, who leads the talented cast of the international stage tour "Heartbeat of Home," has foot movement so quick and perfectly timed, he seems to float across the stage of the Oriental Theatre in Chicago, his temporary home in the spotlight at 24 W. Randolph, for the company's limited two-week engagement.

After a world stage premiere in Dublin last October, director John McColgan and his new two-hour international salute to dance "Heartbeat of Home" is being unveiled to Chicagoland audiences first before other U.S. tour cities have the chance to be dazzled by the precision timing of this "feet" feat.

Broadway In Chicago, McColgan and the producers of "Riverdance" have the show booked from March 4 to 16 and tickets are likely to move as quickly as the fancy footwork showcased in this two-hour- and-20-minute marathon of movement.

"Heartbeat of Home" is a music and dance spectacular featuring the dynamic, vibrant components of traditional Irish, Latin and Afro-Cuban music and dance. The world-class cast of 40 includes a 10-piece band creating a new and electrifying sound written by award-winning, Golden-Globe-nominated composer Brian Byrne.

The show also employs high-definition, cutting-edge projection technology and is billed to have "an engaging narrative structure," however, I'm not so convinced of the latter assessment.  Produced by Moya Doherty, devised and directed by McColgan with narrative and lyrics by award-winning Irish writer Joseph O'Connor, the show still needs some fine-tuning for the narrative portion to allow for more seamless transitions between the dance sequences showcased.

The cast includes world-class Irish, Latin and Afro-Cuban dancers and with dynamic precision choreography by David Bolger, to create melded visions of dance, music and culture.

One of my favorite and most striking dance numbers has Hodges leading his troupe in a fantastically frenzied and intense configured dance with a flawless succession of overhead hand-claps against a backdrop of rolling waves of angry waters set to sounds of thunder paired with lightening.

My other favorite force of talent and intensity is dancer Angelo Gioffre, who is the star of the Latin segments and delivers power and sexuality with every step.

I was not such a fan of some of what I would consider "filler sequences" that seemed to slow down the show's pace and rhythm, such as a couple spotlight drum solos by Steve Holloway and a silly faux phone call exchange with Hodges and lead female vocalist Lucia Evans.

After all, dance is what this audience is eager to explore and become immersed in, for this celebration of life, spirit and soul.

Tickets are $30-$85 at (800) 775-2000 or BroadwayInChicago.com or heartbeatofhome.com

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at philip.potempa@nwi.com or (219) 852-4327.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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