To close its 2011-2012 season, Actor’s Express has produced Xanadu, with Book by Douglas Carter Beane and Music and Lyrics by Jeff Lynne and Jon Farrar.
While the movie, starring Olivia Newton John and spinning off several hits for her, was a flop at the box office, the musical is finding success through its campy humor and well-known songs. Aside from some missed notes, simple choreography and an unflattering set, most audience members will enjoy the production for escapist entertainment it is meant to be.
Xanadu isn’t the typical night out at the theater, and most of the theater-goers interested in seeing the musical aren’t looking for Wicked or The Phantom of the Opera. It is pure B movie entertainment, and it pokes fun at its cinematic namesake as well as itself. A superbly talented cast manages to create much hilarity.
Taking its cues from the movie, the musical follows the Greek muse Clio (Lindsey Lamb Archer) who comes out of a chalk painting along with her other “sisters” to inspire Sonny Malone (Jordan Craig) and his dreams to open a roller disco. In her disguise as Kira, complete with roller skates and leg warmers, she works to inspire Sonny and achieve the reward of Xanadu, despite an evil attempt by her sisters (Jill Hames and Marcie Millard) to thwart her plans.
Archer’s vocals and quirky faces provide a strong foundation for the musical, and she effortlessly performs most of show on roller skates. As her love interest, Craig’s youthful exuberance and naiveté fit the character well. Both Hames and Millard are delightful as the two scheming sisters and provide many of the show’s humorous moments. “Evil Woman” allows them to flex their comedic talents and show that they can keep from going over the top, which could be an easy trap with these two characters.
Strap on your roller skates for a fun and brain-free night of entertainment. Xanadu plays through June 16 at Actor’s Express. For tickets and more information, please visit the theater’s website. The show runs for a little over an hour and a half with a ten minute intermission.
– Kenny Norton