The vehicle is a groaner, but Flatley sure can move

Special to The Times

Clothes may make the man, but Irish step-dancing phenom Michael Flatley, whose latest spectacle, “Celtic Tiger,” features the hoofer in Village People leathers, Al Capone pinstripes and Russell Crowe gladiator garb, could take to the stage in anything at all and still tear up the joint.

Seriously, with his machine gun-firing feet (shod, at various times, in silver-heeled brogues and shiny spats), the dude can dance. But at age 47, the creator of “Riverdance,” whose bio claims his taps have been clocked at 35 per second, parcels himself out in well-measured doses, as was in evidence Saturday at the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim.

Not exactly intimate, the venue -- less than a third full at 5,000 -- nevertheless served as a shrine to the Terpsichore whose every tapping twirl, feverish foot whoosh and Rockette-style kick astonished.

The 42 backup dancers were able to provide thrilling thunder themselves, the Velveeta factor notwithstanding.


And there was plenty of that. “Tiger,” a 90-minute “history of the Irish people,” featured a bevy of blond babes writhing in red lace that could have come from Frederick’s of Hollywood (costumes designed by Flatley and Christopher Woods, to the video backdrop of tongue-flicking snakes. Balletic butterflies bourreed in wings, while a bumblebee ambled about this neo-garden of Eden scenario.

Traditional Irish step dance (rigid torso, manic legs), gave way to more bimbo-ism as Act 2 opened with a stewardess surrounded by a cadre of pilots, with Flatley -- who conceived, produced, directed and choreographed most of the extravaganza -- at the helm.

After the mighty mover and Busby Berkeley-like corps, with its high-decibel tap roar, exited the stage, the gal in glasses and stilettos then stripped down to a red, white and blue bra and panties.

Hello, America!


Still, the 10 musicians rocked (as did Flatley on two flute numbers), and his gangsta tap routine on a platform was positively to die for: His famed feet encircled in flames, Flatley may have put out the real fire with a metaphorical Uzi, but his uber-dazzling footwork, mega-watt charisma and enormous theatricality have, happily, not yet dimmed.