“XANADU: THE MUSICAL” AT NEW CONSERVATORY THEATRE CENTER IS SEXY FUN

(Charles Kruger)

This reviewer is a member of the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle (SFBATCC)

“Xanadu: The Musical” by Douglas Carter Beane with music and lyrics by Jeff Lynne and John Farrar. Produced by New Conservatory Theatre Centre. Director/Choreographer: Stephanie Temple. Musical Direction: G. Scott Lacy. Scenic Design: Kuo-Hao Lo. Lighting: Christian Mejia. Customes: Jeffrey Hamby. Stage Manager: Margaux Hodges.

Kira/Clio: Chloe Condon. Sonny: Jesus Martinez, Jr. Danny/Zeus: Joe Wicht. CalliopeAphrodite: Jaimelee Roberts. Melpomene/Medusa: Nikki Arias. Erato/Siren/Andrew Sister/Eros/Hera: Angel Burgess. Euterpe/Siren/Andrew Sister/Thetis: Molly Kruse. Thalis/Siren/Tubes Singer/Cyclops: Nathan Marken. Terpsicore/Siren/Young Danny/Tubes Singer/Centaur: Alex Rodriguez.

Xanadu: The Musical ran for an astonishing 500+ performances on Broadway and won multiple awards as well as a Tony nomination for Best Musical in 2007. This charming piece of roller skating disco froth is based on an undistinguished 1980s movie musical of the same name starring Olivia Newton-John and featuring (of all people) Gene Kelly. Roger Ebert called the film “mushy and limp” and “pretty bad”.

Chloe Condon and Joe Wicht in "Xanadu: The Musical" At New Conservatory Theatre Center. Photo Credit: NCTC.

Nevertheless, years later its silly premise proved irresistible to producers who thought they could cash in on 80s nostalgia. How silly? Well, a young street artist in Venice Beach, California is inspired by roller-skating muse Clio (masquerading as Kira and hiding behind an absurd Australian accent) to open a roller-rink nightclub that will be a haven for all the arts. Their dream is undermined by Clio’s evil, jealous sisters. They trick Clio into falling in love with the mortal man, and daring to make art herself—both matters forbidden by their father Zeus, who is likely to condemn her to eternal damnation as a result.

If this doesn’t make much sense, don’t worry. It is merely an excuse for a lot of nostalgic fun, silly music, scenery chewing comedy, mirror balls, and roller skates. Good times!

The production at New Conservatory Theatre falls a bit short on the singing, dancing, choreography and design chops that might have put this over the top. But much can be forgiven for the wonderful comic acting and sex appeal of the company.

Chloe Condon (Kira) and Jesus Martinez, Jr. (Sonny) are charmingly naive as the hapless couple headed toward a happy ending. Nikki Arias and Jaimelee Roberts are deliciously evil and ferociously funny as Melpomene and Calliope.

Alex Rodriguez (whose credits include the National Tour of Miss Saigon) is irresistable as Terpsicore. His turn as a satyr in the court of Zeus is sexy fun.

And speaking of Zeus, Joe Wicht‘s truculent Father of the Gods is worth the price of admission.

If this sounds like your cup of ambrosia, you won’t be disappointed. Fun, fun, fun. For further information, click here.

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