Categories

Xanadu – Oh My Gods!

Jordan Wright
May 21, 2012
Special to The Alexandria Times 

Sonny (Charlie Brady, center) goes 1980’s glam rock. Mark Chandler (left) and Nickolas Vaughan. "Xanadu" plays at Virginia’s Signature Theatre. Photo: Scott Suchman

Sonny (Charlie Brady, center) goes 1980’s glam rock. Mark Chandler (left) and Nickolas Vaughan. "Xanadu" Virginia’s Signature Theatre. Photo: Scott Suchman

Dial back to the ‘80’s and Venice Beach, Cali.  It’s the days before auto-tuned singers and earbuds, a simpler time when listening to music meant cassette tapes and a boombox the size of carry-on luggage.  Scrunch a pair of leg warmers over your roller skates (in-lines had yet to be invented) and channel your inner Olivia Newton-John or John Travolta.  Remember that now much maligned era of disco fever and mirrored balls – when dancing to Donna Summer fast tracked your life?  Well, it’s back with the pop musical Xanadu to the tune of fourteen huge hits like I’m Alive, Evil Woman, Strange Magic, Suddenly and Have You Never Been Mellow.

Erin Weaver (center, as Kira) with her Greek Muses (from left to right) Nickolas Vaughan, Kellee Knighten Hough, Nova Y. Payton, Sherri L. Edelen, Mark Chandler, and Jamie Eacker. The musical comedy "Xanadu". Photo: Scott Suchman

Erin Weaver (center, as Kira) with her Greek Muses (from left to right) Nickolas Vaughan, Kellee Knighten Hough, Nova Y. Payton, Sherri L. Edelen, Mark Chandler, and Jamie Eacker. The musical comedy "Xanadu". Photo: Scott Suchman

In a mix and match of muses, roller disco and a World War II female quartet, Sonny and Kira fall in love.  That’s the easy part.  Plot-wise the musical tosses in everything but the kitchen sink and throws out more wacky punch lines than Laugh-In.  But it’s the electrifying, feel-good musical score by composers Jeff Lynne and John Farrar that provides the Krazy Glue that holds it all together when mythical gods and goddesses conspire and partyers in silver Lurex and platform heels camp it up on a stage designed to send skaters sailing straight through the aisles.  In Misha Kachman’sset, complete with soaring catwalk and palm trees silhouetted against an amber sunset, there’s a bigger-than-life backdrop to this eponymously titled send-up of the 1980 cult classic film.

Kira (Erin Weaver) goes weak in the knees in the arms of Sonny Malone (Charlie Brady). Photo: Scott Suchman

Kira (Erin Weaver) goes weak in the knees in the arms of Sonny Malone (Charlie Brady). Photo: Scott Suchman

Sonny is an untalented sidewalk chalk artist who can’t even conjure a compelling suicide note.  In the midst of his desperation he meets Kira, a Grecian muse, aka Clio, on the Santa Monica Pier.  She vows to help the disconsolate Sonny become successful.  But following her father Zeus’s edict to all muses, she must not fall in love with a mortal.  Bummer, right?  In all of the great Greek tragedies the infighting muses have an axe to grind – and this one’s got Kira’s name written all over it.

Harrry A. Winter (as Danny Maguire) and Erin Weaver (as Kira) sing “Whenever You’re Away From Me”. Photo: Scott Suchman

Harry A. Winter (as Danny Maguire) and Erin Weaver (as Kira) sing “Whenever You’re Away From Me”. Photo: Scott Suchman

As in the original Broadway production a cast of nine handles, what by quick count appears to be, an astonishing 25 different roles.  Are they up to it?  “True dat!” as the slang-prone muses say.  Credit Costume Designer Kathleen Geldard and a wardrobe mistress as speedy as Mercury who manage some lightning quick wardrobe changes as the cast goes from diaphanous togas to skintight spandex and back again.

Hunky actor Charlie Brady plays the hapless Sonny Malone to adorable Erin Weaver’s Kira.  Weaver is utterly winsome and creates a force field all her own, breathing mega-energy into the familiar show.

The script has plenty of audience-conscious lines.  When Kira asks her former boyfriend, now real estate tycoon Danny Maguire (played by Harry A. Winter), to let them turn his old theater into a roller disco, he agrees telling her, “Nothing turns around a crappy neighborhood like the Arts.”  Knowing laughs from the Shirlington audience who remember when the theater was in an auto shop.  But the line of the night goes to Hermes, played with perfect comedic timing by Nickolas Vaughan who when Kira asks him, “Why does Zeus accuse me?” – he cracks, “Bitch, I don’t know your life!”

Sherri Edelen (Calliope/Aphrodite) who recently appeared in Signature’s multi-awarded Hairspray is a riot as is Nova Y. Payton (Melpomene/Medusa) whose rich voice and sass put the show in the “Memorable Evening” category.

Through July 1st at Signature Theatre (Shirlington Village), 4200 Campbell Avenue, Arlington, VA 22206.  For tickets and information call 703 820-9771 or visit www.signature-theatre.org.

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

  

  

  

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.