Thursday, April 26, 2012


Combine a roller-skating Muse, a catty Greek chorus of inspirational goddesses, a dim-but-sincere artist, some fabulous music from the 1970s and a truly hilarious script and you’ve got “Xanadu,” opening tonight at the Sharadin Bigler Theatre.

I laughed – nay, CACKLED – during the “Xanadu” rehearsal I sat in on early this week. Playwright Douglas Carter Beane, who wrote the show’s book, will do that to a girl. If you were lucky enough to see the EPAC On the Edge staged reading of “The Little Dog Laughed,” you’ll know you can look forward to a really entertaining evening at EPAC.

This is a really fun show with great music. It has something to say about art, love and the creative process, but its message is wrapped up in snappy-snarky dialogue, a singable score, candy-colored costumes, neon lights and a carefree 1980 attitude. It will definitely put a big ol’ smile on your face. 
EPAC veteran Cody Smith directs and choreographs. 

You may remember the campy 1980 movie musical, “Xanadu,” starring Olivia Newton-John. The plot of the stage musical is similar, but “Xanadu” on stage is a unique creation unto itself. I saw a recent interview with Cheyenne Jackson, who played Sonny on Broadway, and he estimated that only about three lines from the movie actually made it into the play.

You’ll be in a fabulous Newton-John/Electric Light Orchestra haze as the cast rocks out on such pop standards as “Magic,” “Evil Woman,” “Suddenly,” “Strange Magic,” “Have You Ever Been Mellow” and, of course, the title tune. Music and lyrics for “Xanadu” are by ELO’s Jeff Lynne and Newton-John collaborator John Farrar.

In the show, Sonny (Brian Viera) is an artist who’s lost his mojo. Clio the Muse (Katelyn Ann Mullen) assumes human form as Sonny’s roller-skating, Aussie-accented, leg-warmer-wearing earthly muse, Kira. She helps the artist envision his artistic dream: a roller disco! Bruce Weaver plays Danny, a businessman Sonny must convince to help him attain his dream.

But watch out for BD Frey as Melpomene and Wendy Caldwell as Calliope. They’re jealous of sister Clio’s privileged position with daddy Zeus. And they’ve got some wicked, magical curses in their bags of tricks.

Rounding out the spirited cast are Greek-chorus Muses Andi Jo Hill as Euterpe; Jessica Henry as Erato; Alex Weaver as Thalia, and James Barksdale as Terpsicore.

I must give major props to David “Big Daddy” Frey; I am so jealous of how he negotiates that stage in his flowing Muse gown and heels. This cast is heaven on wheels AND heels.

The show runs through May 12; don’t miss it! Call the EPAC box office at 733-7966 for tickets. See you there!

Many, MANY thanks to “Xanadu” show sponsor H&R Block; season sponsor The Farrington Family and Green Mountain Cyclery; and season media sponsor Blue Ridge Communications.

And, remember, your opening-night ticket includes the after-party at the Hill Top Inn, 415 E. Main St., Ephrata; thanks to the folks there for hosting!

P.S. Did you see the TV spot for "Xanadu"?

           -- Mary Ellen “Merv” Wright