I strangely felt like picking up my LotD comparisons series again, so I’m going to start getting into the characters now. Rather than actually start with the title character, who hasn’t really changed all *that* much, I’m going to go through the evolution of Don Dorcha.
1) The character of Don Dorcha was originally played by the lovely-and-talented Daire Nolan. The original 1996 production’s costume was, IMO, not really much of a costume except for the mask.
2) Daire reprised his role in the Hyde Park production of Feet of Flames, which is honestly my favorite version of the show. Here, he has taken the character and run with it, and he does it so well. In this show, he is scary and evil, but in a very subtle way. At the beginning of The Nightmare, he literally just needs to stand there, surrounded by flames, to be terrifying. The costume, also, is a bit different. The black has been traded in for purple and silver, including on his mask. Also, in The Nightmare and The Duel, he has a cloak (not shown here) that is held on with a square knot pin similar to the design he has on his chest.
3) Filmed 11 years later, the Taiwan production of Feet of Flames introduces us to a new Don Dorcha, played by the equally-amazing Tom Cunningham. In both the costume and the way Tom handles himself onstage, there does seem to be a lot of channeling of the Hyde Park show. I personally don’t think that’s a bad thing because I loved Daire’s performance so much, however…
4) In 2011’s “Michael Flatley Returns” show, you really see Tom come into his own as Dorcha. He’s a bit less subtle than Daire, to the point where I expect him to break into maniacal laughter at any moment, but it kinda works really well for him. If I had to compare him to another villain from something else I like, he’s Strife from the Herc/Xenaverse where Daire is more Ares. With this production, there also began the hugest changes in the show. It began leaning more toward a ‘magic vs tech’ vibe, which you really see in his costume in particular. The silver mask is replaced by a spiky helmet, the purple accents on the costume are removed entirely so it’s all black and chrome, and they, sadly, did away with the knot work.
5) This last picture is from Dangerous Games, the most-recent production that began this year. As you can see, Dorcha seems to have gone from cyberpunk to cyborg, complete with wires, tubes, and metal everywhere.
On a scale of 1 to ‘Holy crap’, Fiery Nights is pretty damn amazing regardless of which version of the show you watch. Musically and visually, it’s one of my most-favorite parts of Lord of the Dance. For 'Most Favorite Version’, though, I have to give it to the original 1996 show.
My favorite part of this entire thing, though it’s a very brief moment, is Dorcha and Morrighan’s dancing together. Particularly in this version because Daire and Gillian are fantastic. I always wish they would’ve stayed for the whole thing.