XANADUMusic and Lyrics by Jeff Lynne and John Farrar
Book by Douglas Carter Beane
Based on the Universal Pictures film screenplay by Richard Danus and Marc Rubel
ONSTAGE in Bedford
Direction by Marty Lon Barrera
Music Direction by Kristin Spires
Choreography by Kelly McCain
Scenic Design by Kevin Brown
Properties by Danielle Vance
Lighting Design by Scott Davis
Costume Design by Derek Whitener and Victor Newman Brockwell
Wig Design by Marcus Lopez
Video Design by Nate Davis
Sound Design by Mark Howard
Stage Management by Seth Johnston
CAST (in order of appearance)
Dustin Simington as Sonny Malone
Dominic Pecikonis as Thalia, Siren, Young Danny, Tubes Singer, Cyclops
Shannon Garcia as Euterpe, Siren, Andrews Sister, Thetis
Amanda Williams Ware as Erato, Siren, Andrews Sister, Eros, Hera
Diane Powell as Melpomene, Medusa
Shannon Walsh as Calliope, Aphrodite
Aaron Green as Terpsicore, Siren, Tubes Singer, Hermes, Centaur
Sarah Dickerson as Clio/Kira
Dennis Canright as Danny Maguire, Zeus
Kristin Spires – Keyboard 1
Mark Miller – Keyboard 2
Russell Mirabelli – Guitar
Mark Howard – Drums
Reviewed Performance: 5/31/2014
Reviewed by Richard Blake, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
The 1980 film on which the musical Xanadu is based barely broke even at the box office and received uniformly unfavorable reviews, but the soundtrack was a commercial hit as were several of the songs. Although the film was nominated for six Razzies, winning one for Worst Director, it became a cult classic. Announcements that the film would be adapted as a Broadway musical drew skepticism and derision, even from Carter Beane, who adapted the script.
According to Beane, in rewriting the script for the musical, he was influenced not only by the Xanadu film but also by the 1981 fantasy film Clash of the Titans, prompting him to add the subplot "in which Kira’s jealous sister-muses doom her to fall in love with a mortal, incurring the wrath of their father, Zeus." He has noted that the stage musical focuses more on the Greek mythology plotlines but has "a lot of [parody] references to the movie."
The score retains the hits from the film and also includes new arrangements by Eric Stern in "I'm Alive," "Magic," "Suddenly," and "Dancin'," as well as two classic Electric Light Orchestra songs, "Strange Magic" and "Evil Woman" plus Farrar's "Have You Never Been Mellow."
ONSTAGE has pulled out all the stops producing this musical cult classic. The ninety nine seat theatre is a quaint, intimate venue that allows you to enjoy every moment of a production without a bad seat in the house. Color me surprised when I saw their season announcement touting Xanadu as their summer musical. I will admit I did not think the show could be done in such a small space. So for those I discussed it with, here you go...I formally admit I was wrong! The production takes over the theatre with style, excitement and a magical splendor, even putting patrons on the stage with the performers in “Magic Seating.” This production proves that when done right, with restraint and an excellent artistic team leading the way, a small space can come alive with the production level of a large venue and succeed.
At the helm, Director Lon Barrera guides a highly talented cast and design team through a myriad of exciting new elements and artistic choices. This is a cult classic, so some of the over-the-top aspects have to be in the show to appease the masses. Mr. Barrera, a well known and award-winning director and actor here in the DFW scene keeps those elements yet adds his own style with great success. His staging, character work with actors and attention to detail are all perfectly done and is only surpassed by the talent he has amassed to perform for you. Every moment of the musical you are laughing and clapping, entertained and engaged. The show never lags and flies by with Mr. Barrera’s excellence in scene transitions, making you wish it won’t end. Bravo on a job very well done.
Kristin Spires as Music Director has the daunting task of making sure all of the songs in the show, which by the way are all recognizable and beloved, are performed to the Nth degree on every level of vocal styling and performance. The vocals are strong, well rehearsed and confidently sung by her cast. A few notes go by the wayside, but literally only a few through the entire performance. I really attribute that to the musical’s high physicality and not the music direction or the performer. In addition to her work with the cast vocally, Ms. Spires conducts the truly spectacular live band. Overall, every aspect from vocals to accompaniment and presentation are expertly done and thoroughly entertaining.
Choreography by Kelly McCain is fresh, exciting and adds another high level of professionalism to the production. It is obvious a lot of time was put into getting all the movement precise, yet at the same time using the individual skills of her performers to their highest potential. Usable space on the stage is restricted, yet none of the dance or movement seems out of place or confined. The group numbers are wonderfully executed and the smaller numbers follow suit with flair and style. Yes, there is roller skating in the show and I can only imagine how many bruises are in places we can’t see, but wherever they are/were, it is worth every one of them to see the final product come out so well on stage!
The scenic design by Kevin Brown is simple, fixed, but stunningly visual. Incorporating large fluted columns, ramps and raised platforms everywhere on the stage, along with two sections of box seating for patrons to literally be IN the show, is genius in design. There is an aspect I won’t give away that involves how the muses come to life, but the idea and overall execution is nothing less than eye-popping, drawing “ooo’s and awww’s” from the audience. Mr. Brown also adds unique touches to intimate scenes like Danny Maguire’s office with a lovely desk that get used in exciting ways. The color palette across the stage was cohesive and well-chosen. Every aspect of Mr. Brown’s design only added more elements of excitement to an already spectacular show.
Scott Davis’ lighting design for this show is just stunning. The stage is overflowing with intelligent moving instruments, LED color washes and yes folks...lasers! Every scene has a unique look and feel that ties in perfectly to what is happening onstage. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such an elaborate lighting design attempted at ONSTAGE and be so perfectly executed. It is a disco-themed musical after all, so no lighting can be too over-the-top. As odd as it seems, with all the visual spectacles going on, the scene I love the most is an intimate one between Sonny and Danny as they inspect the closed Xanadu theatre together. The lone ghost light and harsh white light thrown the length of the stage into the house for the actors is just lovely to me. It adds great dimension, depth and space to the scene and is a perfect example of high execution in lighting design.
Video design by Nate Davis is flawless and a very integral part of this production. A great deal of custom video editing, image manipulation and photography of the cast is used and every aspect of the design adds perfect elements when needed. Pay attention to notice some subtle accents to the action on stage; trust me, they’re spectacular.
Mark Howard’s overall sound design is simple yet effective. Now, I don’t know if it was operator error or equipment failure, but the wireless microphones the cast use are a distraction. Sometimes they work, sometimes not, usually during scenes where laughing covers the ensuing dialogue. Low-hum, grounding feedback and static in the speakers is also a huge problem. This is the only aspect of the production that falls flat, creating random annoyances to an otherwise perfect presentation of a show.
Costumes by Derek Whitener and Victor Newman Brockwell, coupled with wigs by Marcus Lopez are show stoppers! The costumes are colorful, definitely 80’s specific when needed, and the wigs - just fantastic. From the flowing fabrics of the muses’ gowns to Sonny’s VERY 80’s specifically-styled “revealing” shorts to Zeus’ “regal” attire, every costume element is perfectly executed. You will definitely raise an eyebrow to some of the costumes and smile with delight at others, but in every case you will love them all.
This show has a well seasoned, truly talented and tightly knit ensemble that makes this musical the success it is. Every one of the actors engage the story and the audience, and sing like there’s no tomorrow, which makes every moment of the evening a true pleasure to experience.
Dustin Simington as the “less-than-intelligent” Sonny Malone, plays the role perfectly. There’s just enough “dim-wit” infused into the character to make you love him and not be bored. I’ve seen productions where Sonny is played like an idiot or super dumb and that doesn’t work. Mr. Simington shines in the role and follows up great acting with some exciting power vocals. He performs the songs with just the right amount of campiness or lovely crooning. This role is made for Mr. Simington and it truly looks like he enjoys every single moment playing it!
Kira/Clio, played by Sarah Dickerson, is pulled off with style and excitement. Vocally, she is strong and has great interpretation and styling. Her choices in both roles are perfectly done and will keep you engaged and laughing so hard you will have tears in your eyes. From her Aussie accent to her “omnipotent” over-the-top muse voice, she’s simply wonderful to watch and definitely makes the role hers.
Dennis Canright as Danny Maguire/Zeus is perfectly cast in both roles. His beautiful vocals soar through the theatre and his comedic timing is spot on every time. He engages you the moment he appears and you never lose interest in either role he plays. As Danny, his expressions portray a man who has lost a love, yet rekindled, and as Zeus his characterizations are funny, unique and truly entertaining.
The Muses/Sisters/almost every other character in the show are over-the-top perfection (including some sisters that are actually brothers) and take the performance to entirely new levels! A few standout mentions are Diane Powell as Melpomene and Shannon Walsh as Calliope, especially during their song “Strange Magic.” You will NOT be able to hold a straight face, and how they did I’ll never know. Other great, albeit, quick moments by Dominic Pecikonis as the Cyclops and Aaron Green as the Centaur are played with such rip-roaring style your face will hurt from laughing. But trust me, every actor on stage shines bright and does a magnificent job!
ONSTAGE in Bedford’s production of Xanadu is loaded with overwhelming professionalism and talent only proving the dedication to their craft
Break out your short-shorts, leg warmers, aqua net, skates and “roll” over to ONSTAGE to be a part of something special being presented this summer. It’s definitely a performance you don’t want to miss!
ONSTAGE In Bedford
Trinity Arts Theater at the Boys Ranch
2819 Forest Ridge Drive
Bedford, Texas 76021
Runs through June 15th
Friday - Saturday at 8:00 pm, and Sunday at 3:00 pm
Tickets are $14.99 and $12.00 for seniors, students and Bedford residents.
“Magic Stage Seating” tickets are $20.00 on a first come, first serve basis.
For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit www.onstageinbedford.com
or call their box office at 817-354-6444.