Xanadu is a musical based on the 1980 movie of the same name starring Olivia Newton John. The defining movie of the rare fantasy/disco genre, Xanadu tells the a love story between Sonny, a down-on-his-luck artist and Clio/Kira, a greek goddess and muse who springs to life out of a local mural. An additional conflict puts a unique twist on the “let’s put on a show to save the theater” device — let’s turn the theater into a roller disco to save my artistic integrity. The period-peice stands to remind us all of a simpler time, when the only thing standing between true love was the success of a roller disco and mortal vs. immortal status.
Adapting a movie to a musical is always a challenge — especially movies with a cult following. “My first exposure to Xanadu was the Broadway show,” says Frank Sansone, who plays Sonny. “It quickly became obvious that many of the attendees were of the cult followers and I was missing out on the joke. I loved the show and have wanted to do it ever since.” Kara Dombrowski also hadn’t seen the original movie before she knew of the musical. “I watched the movie after I got this role,” she says. “I could appreciate it for what it was, but I think the stage version and the changes and plot twists that were added really make the story what it could have been. The stage version embraces the campiness in an honest way. They say bad movies make good musicals and I think this is the perfect example of that.”
Although Xanadu is clearly a period piece, there are elements that might strike a chord with those without a strong nostalgia for the early ’80’s. “The plot, this whole idea of a roller disco and the music are all about embracing the nostalgia, but the messages and the way we present them are timeless,” offers Dombrowski. “I am sure, if one wished to, they could place it in another decade,” says Sansone. “But really, who would ever want to do that? With leg warmers, roller skates and more glitter than a unicorn galloping over a rainbow, this show is perfect as is.”
One obvious challenge is that much of the musical takes place with the two leading characters on roller skates. “I haven’t roller skated in a very long time, I mean so long that the last skates I wore were the yellow, orange and blue fisher price skates that attached to your sneakers,” admits Sansone. “Even still I think I have been able to hold my own. Though I am not the pro that my wonderful co-star Kara is.” Dombrowski might disagree. “I’ve had to do some interesting things onstage before, but never rollerskate!” she exclaims. “I started practicing pretty much immediately after I was hired. The only space I had, though, was pavement so moving from outside to our small stage was an adjustment. Yes it’s silly, but it also adds so much to the magical element of Kira- definitely makes her movements very graceful, fluid, and ethereal.”
The skating, the glitter, and the divine intervention might make this show seem larger-than-life, but it fits snugly into Lake Dillon’s intimate space.”It’s a show that works really well in a small space,” says Dombrowski. “On Broadway, they actually had audience seating on stage and our space is so intimate that it’s like everyone is onstage. You really can get caught up in these characters and the story and feel like you’re in a roller disco!” Sansone agrees that the intimacy is an asset to this production. “The audience will definitely get to know the cast in more than one-way and it will leave them happy and laughing,” he says. “Or at least that’s the plan!”
Xanadu runs from June 21- August 18 on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays at 6:30pm, and Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30pm.
Tickets are priced between $27 and $30. Please call 970.513.9386 for further information or to purchase tickets.