HEARTBEAT OF HOME conceived and directed by John McColgan (Mirvish). At the Ed Mirvish Theatre (244 Victoria). Runs to March 2. $35-$130. 416-872-1212. See listing. Rating: NNN
Heartbeat Of Home seems destined to play Las Vegas, where its lithe hoofers, catchy score and mishmash of Irish, Afro-Cuban, Latin and flamenco dance should fit right in amidst the phony Eiffel Tower and Coliseum.
The vague narrative - Joseph O'Connor is credited with concept development and lyrics - involves people emigrating from various countries across the sea to the New World, where they soon strut, tap and bang their sturdy flamenco heels to mark out their territory.
Competition ensues, but soon, as in some multiethnic wish fulfillment, the cultures mix things up, resulting in fascinating musical and dance fusions.
Since the show comes from the producers of Riverdance, there's lots of impeccable Irish dancing (choreographed by John Carey), but the Latin movers (Clare Craze, Vanessa Guevara, Curtis Angus and Angelo Gioffré) are the ones who'll get your hips swaying. David Bolger is the choreographer of the non-Irish sections.
The versatile band shifts easily from genre to genre, and Lucia Evans sings O'Connor's bland lyrics with reality-show gumption.
There are some effective visual effects, too, as in a marvellous sequence in the second act that begins with a trumpet solo and footage of city skyscrapers and ends with a tap number on a steel girder that's an homage to the iconic Men At Lunch photograph.
A few more scenes like that - and fewer relying on Hallmark-card-ready sentiment - and this show could really kick ass.