Tuesday 24 April 2018

"Obama" effect boosts Riverdance sales

Michelle Obama is joined by Fionnuala Kenny, Sabina Higgins and Moya Doherty for a special performance of Riverdance
Michelle Obama is joined by Fionnuala Kenny, Sabina Higgins and Moya Doherty for a special performance of Riverdance
Michelle Obama
Riverdance sales have increased dramatically since the First Family saw the show
Laura Butler

Laura Butler

After a visit to the Gaiety by the First Family for a special performance of the legendary stage show, Riverdance has seen an "immediate" boost in sales.

IT’S the Obama effect - Michelle Obama’s request to see Riverdance on her visit to Ireland resulted in “an immediate” boost to box office sales.

The First Lady of America asked that she and her two daughters Malia and Sasha be treated to a special performance of the long-running show at Dublin’s Gaiety Theatre during their brief stay in the Irish capital earlier this month.

Riverdance, experienced live by over 23 million people worldwide since 1995, officially kicked off a three-month run at the Gaiety last night.

Senior executive producer Julian Erskine told the Irish Independent that the Obamas’ desire to see production sparked renewed interest among tourists.

“This is our 10th year at the Gaiety now, so one problem with putting it on so regularly and for so long is that you become part of the landscape and people forget about you,” Erskine said.

“The fact that coming to see it was a personal request straight from the First Lady and it wasn’t organised for her as part of what she would be doing while here gave us an instantaneous lift.

“We saw a response from that almost immediately and a direct boost to box office, which is fantastic because it helped to remind people Riverdance is happening for the summer.

He continued: “We’ve also made a lot of changes to the production to keep it fresh, be that through different technology, lighting or performers. And the best thing for us is when it rains.”

There will be seven performances of Riverdance every week until September 1.

Erskine said it was “nerve wrecking” seeing a number of weeks’ sales looking “thin” but understands many visitors buy theirs only a day or two before going to the production.

“We’re very tourist and family driven, so people from overseas are obviously going to purchase tickets while they’re here, it makes sense. We’re obviously not sold out for the whole summer, but we are selling very well now,” he said.

At the performance on June 17 for Mrs Obama and her daughters while the US president attended the G8 summit, Sasha and Malia were presented with two pairs of handmade dance shoes engraved with their names, by lead dancer Padraic Moyles.

“It was such a privilege to be able to perform for them and then meet them afterwards too, just beyond our wildest dreams,” Moyles told the Irish Independent.

“Michelle said Sasha’s friend does Irish dance in Chicago so she’s well aware of the style, but she herself is learning doing hip hop and jazz at the moment.

“So when I handed the shoes over to her I offered to teach her Irish dance – I’d happily got to the White House and give her lesson – but said I’d only do it if she returned the favour and taught me hip hop.”


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