Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Review of American Theater Company's Xanadu

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Xanadu. The book was by Douglas Carter Beane and the music and lyrics were by Jeff Lynne and John Farrar. It was directed by Lili-Anne Brown. The music direction was by Aaron Benham and the choreography was by Brigitte Ditmars. It was about a muse named Clio (Landree Fleming) who goes to the mortal world as a girl named Kira who is Australian to help an artist, Sonny Malone (Jim DeSelm). The muses are not allowed to fall in love with mortals, but two of her sisters who are also muses, Melpomene (Karla L. Beard) and Calliope (Missy Aguilar), are trying to get her killed by making her fall in love. And once Clio and this mortal get to know each other they decide they are going to open a palace of culture, which is really a roller rink with maybe some art, in a building owned by Danny Maguire (Aaron Holland) who used to be in love with Clio when she wasn't Clio but somebody named Kat. I really liked this show. I thought that it was super fun and I thought that it was a great way to make a terrible 80s movie into a fun show.

The relationship between Kira and Sonny was adorable and cheesy. And I thought the cheesiness was just hilarious in this. They look at each other very, how do I put this, in awe of each other. And I was like, "What's so amazing about them this time?" But I guess that is like asking, "Why do fools fall in love?" Why do they fall in love? I actually have an explanation for that: she's Australian and she has roller skates and he looks like he just came out of the neon store after a %50 off sale. They actually succeeded in making me care about the characters: even though they looked and acted ridiculous, I wanted them to get what they wanted because they were really funny and the songs were really sweet sometimes.

Two of the muses help them fall in love, Melpomene and Calliope, but that is not their intention; they just want Clio kicked out of her position of leadership...by death!!! They sang this song called "Evil Woman." I though their vocals were amazing. This was one of my favorite songs and it was pretty funny too because they were trying not to seem like they were plotting. And the conversation before it was just hilarious. They started using very modern phrases, like they said the river god was Melpomene's baby daddy. But they also said words like "thus" a lot and then would just snap into talking like somebody in the 80s. I thought that that was very funny and I really liked that.

There was a lot of very goofy humor in this. There was one scene where Hermes (James Nedrud) was trying to deliver a message to Clio about how she could not fall in love with a human. And Hermes could not roller skate whatsoever and so he was giving this huge dramatic monologue while he was holding on to the railing. And whenever there was a little bit of break in the railing he would scream his head off until he got to the other side of the break.

My favorite scene in the entire show was the scene with Zeus (Holland), who reminded me a lot of someone who had all the ladies, the best kind of car, all the money, and was high all the time. Basically that guy had it going pretty good and he had this hilarious voice that was just kind of whispery and very high. I think that was absolutely hilarious. I know a lot about Zeus because I really like Greek Mythology and I take the National Mythology Exam every year, and I can tell you Zeus did have a lot of ladies and a lot of babies and was basically a player. So that was one of the funniest moments for me. And he had a very funny reaction to a mortal coming up to Olympus; he said something like "Sorry. Mere mortals are not allowed up here" in this exasperated voice. But he was very calm while he said it. There is a song, "Have You Never Been Mellow," where the attending goddesses of Zeus--Hera (Kasey Alfonso), Aphrodite (Aguilar), and Thetis (Hannah Rose Nardone) were singing about how Zeus should just let the kids be together. And then he starts to be seduced by them and then a bunch of different mythical creatures showed up, like a Cyclops (Daniel Spagnuolo), a Centaur (Nedrud), and Medusa (Beard) and they joined in and I really liked it because it was funny.

People who would like this show are people who like E-evil women, screaming Hermes, and high Zeus. I thought this was a really fun and great show. I liked it a lot and definitely think people should go see it. It was weird, silly, and just altogether really awesome.

Photos: Michael Brosilow

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