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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 6 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 27
Xanadu: a million lights are dancing still
Arts & Entertainment
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Xanadu: a million lights are dancing still

by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

XANADU
ARTS WEST
Through July 15


Have you never been mellow? Have you never tried to find a comfort from inside you? No? Well, get your groove on at ArtsWest as their apprentice program goes to Xanadu. This spoof musical based on the 1980 cult film (inspired by the 1947 Rita Hayworth film Down to Earth, a sequel to the 1941 movie Here Comes Mr. Jordan, an adaptation of the play Heaven Can Wait) is just a silly good time.

Becca Orts shows her range and beauty as she's called upon to rollerskate, sing most of the songs, and tap dance as well as act. While others in the show are great fun (Chelsea Gilpin as the Evil Woman and Ryan Floresca as her loyal sister-henchperson, in particular), Orts just has too much stage time to ignore.

If you escaped seeing the movie starring Olivia Newton-John (which was universally panned when it came out but had a best-selling soundtrack featuring music and lyrics by Jeff Lynne and John Farrar), you may not know that it has a cult following today. The musical opened on Broadway in 2007 and won awards from the Outer Critics Circle and Drama Desk, plus four Tony nominations (including Best Musical and Best Book). In fact, the musical is a complete tongue-in-cheek look back at the disco era, and is really quite funny.

The basic story has Sonny Malone (Kody Bringman) feeling suicidal because nothing has come of his artistic endeavors. A Greek Muse, Clio (Becca Orts), decides to save him by inspiring him to greatness. One of the other nine sister Muses, Melpomene (Chelsea Gilpin), gets jealous and persuades her sister Calliope (Ryan Floresca) to help put a curse on Clio to fall in love with Sonny, so that Zeus will punish him with death. Gilpin and Floresca make a fun team.

A subplot involving an older inspiree, Danny Maguire (Weston Gaylord), creates the will-they-save-the-theater-or-will-it-get-torn-down pretense of tension. Gaylord has a lovely, manly tone to his singing, though he might work on holding onto his upper register.

Choreography by director Christopher Zinovitch successfully reminds us of '80s dance moves and amps up the fun. The small band gives great musical support, though the volume doesn't need to be quite so high. Costumes by Stacey Derk are simple, colorful, and evocative.

The apprenticeship program is ArtsWest's annual summer class for 16-to-21-year-olds and members are selected by audition. The level of participation here is pretty high and some of the best up-and-coming young musical stars take part. Bringman, for one, has been cast around town at Seattle Musical Theatre and 5th Avenue Theatre, and Orts has also participated at Village Theatre and Seattle Children's Theatre. Floresca has given year-long support to various productions at ArtsWest.

For more information, go to www.artswest.org or call (206) 938-0339. Discuss your opinions with sgncritic@gmail.com or go to www.facebook.com/SeattleTheaterWriters.

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