Dancing changed his life in Northern Ireland. Now, he’s keeping the tradition alive

“Riverdance: The 20th Anniversary Tour” opens at 7 p.m. Friday at the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino.
“Riverdance: The 20th Anniversary Tour” opens at 7 p.m. Friday at the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino. Courtesy Riverdance

Jason O’Neill said he’ll never forget the first time he saw professional Irish dancers when he was a child in Belfast.

“We saw it on television and it changed my life,” O’Neill said. “We had competitive dancing but we had never seen anything like that.”

The “that” to which O’Neill was referring was televised performance of the tribute to Irish dancing, “Riverdance.” And, yes, it changed his life.

O’Neill is one of the cast members of “Riverdance: The 20th Anniversary World Tour.” The show opens Friday at the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino and runs through Sunday. Tickets start at $24 and can be purchased at Ticketmaster.com.

The latest production of “Riverdance” is a mixture of dance, music and songs that draws heavily on Irish traditions. The show is performed in two acts with the first act focusing on Irish folk tales and the second act pays tribute to Irish-American immigrants.

“We have a new show for this tour,” O’Neill said. “It has some new costumes and new lights — we’ve only performed a few shows in 2018 but they have been great.”

The tour is composed by Bill Whelan, produced by Moya Doherty and directed by John McColgan.

“Riverdance” began as an act in the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest, which was produced by Doherty. It has been seen live by more than 25 million people in more than 500 venues.

“The success of Riverdance across the whole world has gone beyond our wildest dreams,” Doherty said. “The fact that the show continues to draw and excite audiences is a tribute to every dancer, singer, musician, staff and crew member who have dedicated themselves to the show. This tour is a thank you to our audiences and a celebration of what has been an incredible journey across two decades.”

If you go

Riverdance: The 20th Anniversary World Tour

Beau Rivage Resort & Casino at 875 Beach Blvd. in Biloxi

7 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 12

3 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 13

3 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 14

Call 888-566-7469 for ticket information.