NEW YORK (AP) — Few performers making their Broadway debuts get a street on Broadway renamed in their honor. Michael Flatley is an exception.
The trailblazing former "Riverdance" star was on hand Tuesday when a section of 42nd Street was dubbed "Flatley Way" in honor of him and his show "Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games," opening nearby at the Lyric Theatre.
"It's fantastic. It's a dream come true," he said on a rainy afternoon with the cheering support of his two dozen cast members in bright costumes. The renaming ceremony lasted only a few minutes, but the dapper Flatley seemed as jazzed about it as he does stepping on the 1,896-seat Lyric.
"As soon as you walk out, you feel the energy of the place," he said. "I'm one of those people who live on energy. I love energy and I can feel it in the building."
Flatley is starring in an eight-week engagement that began this week and will run through Jan. 3. He will appear at the encore of each evening show, dancing alongside holographic movies of his iconic dances.
The show marks his official retirement from dancing and is the first time he's graced a Broadway stage, having already performed at Radio City Music Hall and Madison Square Garden.
Flatley, born into a blue-collar Irish-American family in Chicago, was catapulted to fame after co-choreographing "Riverdance," which was first performed as a seven-minute interval break in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1994.
He and dancer Jean Butler helped extend it into a full-length show and it opened at Dublin's Point Theatre in 1995, at a time of renewed Irish optimism and pride surrounding the onset of the booming "Celtic Tiger" economy.
Flatley, 57, went on to create his own shows, "Feet of Flames" and "Celtic Tiger." His "Lord of the Dance" premiered in 1996 and has been seen by more than 60 million people in 60 different countries, including 400,000 during a five-year residency in Las Vegas.
But years of traditional Irish step-dancing — infused with elements of ballet, tap, modern dance and world rhythms — have taken their toll. "I'd love to dance but my old legs, I'm afraid, they won't allow me too much more," he said.