The Irish dance phenomenon Riverdance returns to the London Apollo Hammersmith for the fifth time next year. The show previews from 15 May 2002 before opening officially the following night and will book initially to 22 June 2002. Tickets go on sale on 29 June 2001, with the London dates closing an extensive UK tour.

The Liffey Company, one of the three Riverdance branches, will be returning to the UK for the first time since 1998. Much of 2001 will be taken up with a major European jaunt ahead of the British schedule. Hammersmith is regarded within the company as the production's spiritual home after the Point Theatre in Dublin, and the show first played at the venue in June 1995.

Riverdance was originally the creation of Moya Doherty, who founded the concept as part of the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest's celebrations. Since then, the three troupes have performed across four continents, releasing best-selling videos and CDs along the way. Each of the three companies is named after a principal Irish river, with the Liffey flowing from Wicklow through to Dublin and out into the Irish Sea. The Liffey's principal dancers are Breandan de Gallai and Joanne Doyle, with Anthony Ferguson as the Dance Captain.

Over in America, the Riverdance - On Broadway show has played to almost two million people since it opened in March 2000. Although the current run ends in late August, plans are being laid to return at some stage, such has been the enthusiasm displayed.

The UK tour will be directed by John McColgan, with music and lyrics courtesy of Bill Whelan. The programme commences in Belfast on 15 January 2002, before taking in Edinburgh, Newcastle, Manchester, Birmingham, Nottingham and Sheffield.

- by Gareth Thompson