Xanadu Everything You Expect in a Farce and a Little Bit More
Get your high-waisted jeans, shoulder pads, leg warmers, and short shorts out of the back of your closet. Big hair is back again, along with the disco ball, and nightclubs where they play Donna Summer too loud. The eighties have returned briefly to Mac-Haydn this September in the guise of Xanadu. The book by Douglas Carter Beane, and music and lyrics by Jeff Lynne and John Farrar, is based on the movie of the same name.
While unpacking all of your old eighties paraphernalia, be sure to leave any sense of reason and reality in the storage closet, as you won’t need them for this show!
Xanadu is the story of a Greek muse who comes down from Mount Olympus to mingle with the mortals in Venice to inspire love and art. The issue is that she is in Venice Beach, California, not Italy, and the art she is inspiring is street art in 1980, not fine art in 1780! Kira the muse takes it all in stride on roller skates and leg warmers and has adopted an Australian accent for the trip (a lovely unintentional homage to the late Olivia Newton-John for whom the movie role originated). Kira meets up with Sonny Malone, an incredibly naive street artist. Malone is a pretty jacked guy, a hair shy of being too good-looking, with a never-say-die attitude who has just about reached the end of his rope.
Andrew Burton Kelley returns to the Mac stage, and it appears that this is the role he is clearly having the most fun with this season. Lucy Rhoades joins the Mac-Haydn family and fits right in. Kelley and Rhoades are a dynamic duo on stage. Kira and Sonny are both very lovable characters. The actors filling the shoes, or in Rhoades case, the roller skates, are a delight. Both possess strong voices, have great sense of comic timing and make their time on stage, which is almost nonstop, appear effortless.
The supporting cast is equally at home in this very camped-up production. The Muse is joined by her six sisters (remaining unseen sisters are introduced early on as the performers in the pit). While the sisters are all excellent, outstanding in the group are Ricky Dobbs and Rachel Pantazis as Thailia and Calliope. Julie Galorenzo, Melpomene (the evil sister), is a joy to watch. She is clearly great at being evil. Her strong singing voice soars in “Evil Women”. It is her asides, mostly visual, to the audience that had the small but very appreciative crowd coming unglued at the show. Tezz Yancey once again dazzles the appreciative crowd with his wonderful tap dancing ability.
The entire production is so incredibly tongue-in-cheek that the laughs keep coming in spite of themselves. Director Robin Campbell has elevated this mindless two hours to pure comic camp. Choreographer David Tankersley and Music Director Bobby McCoy have worked together to present the best in eighties music and have us believe that we are all in the world’s first roller disco. Andrew Gmoser’s lighting and Sean McGinley’s sound design fill in the voids beautifully in Kevin Gleason’s somewhat spartan set.
If you want to recapture a bit of the past, perhaps relive some ill-spent moments of your youth, or glimpse into a past you never knew, Xanadu is the place to visit. It’s not real, but the fantasy is fun, the eighties music is great, and the cast is having as much fun as the audience. This might be your last trip to Mac-Haydn this season, but as with all of their shows this season, it is so worth the trip.
Xanadu runs through October 2. Masks and proof of vaccination are required. For ticket information, call the box office at 518-392-9292 or online at www.machaydntheatre.org.