by Dani Norton
Theatre at Southeastern and the SE Department of Music will present “Xanadu” Thursday through Saturday, Feb. 23-25 at 7:30 p.m. in Montgomery Auditorium.
“Xanadu” follows Greek goddess Clio on her descent from Mt. Olympus to Venice Beach to inspire Sonny, a struggling artist, to create what will be his greatest life achievement: building a roller disco.
Clio disguises herself as a roller skating Australian named Kira and eventually falls in love with Sonny, much to the dismay of her jealous sisters.
The musical is based on the 1980 film of the same name starring Olivia Newton-John and the iconic Gene Kelly. According to IMDB.com, the movie opened to a famous one-sentence review: “In a word, Xana-don’t.”
The film inspired a man named John Wilson to create the Razzie Awards, which dishonor the worst achievements in filmmaking each year. “Xanadu” director Robert Greenwald received the first ever Razzie Award for Worst Director for his movie.
Despite “Xanadu” being a big screen flop, it enjoyed much more success as a stage musical. The production opened on Broadway in 2007 to rave reviews and ran for more than 500 shows.
Along the way, it picked up several awards and was even nominated for Best Musical at the Tony Awards.
Dell McLain, chair of the Department of Art, Communication and Theatre, will be directing SE’s production of “Xanadu,” and he is certain audiences will appreciate it.
“It’s hilarity on wheels for anyone who has ever wanted to feel inspired, with endless fun that will keep you in stitches, while the original, legendary chart-topping tunes will lift you out of your seat,” he said in a press release.
McLain went on to say that “this hilarious roller skating musical adventure is about following your dreams despite the limitations others set for you.”
It will be “hilarity on wheels” because some members of the cast will, indeed, be donning roller skates for the performance.
The cast of “Xanadu” will feature senior Julia Castro as Clio/Kira and Boomer Lowerie as struggling artist Sonny. Dustin Curry will play Danny, a man Clio visited 40 years prior. Rebecca Sparks and Melinda Rocha will play Clio’s jealous sisters, Melpomeme and Calliope.
Additional cast members include Kevin Anastasio, Jessica Black, Brianne Cothran, Taylor Donaldson, Nick Growall, Sheridan Hill, Domanick Hubbard, Noel McDaniel, Apryl Mock, Jonothan O’Brien, Aaron Rains, Tanner Risner, Ashleigh Self and Jennifer Wills.
This will be freshman music major Anastasio’s first SE Theatre production. He said that he is excited for his first theatre experience to be something as fun and wild as “Xanadu.”
“It’s going to be a blast. This will be my first musical at Southeastern, and I’m honestly glad it’s something unique like ‘Xanadu,’ though it is a little intimidating,” he said.
Anastasio said that he hopes his love for disco music can help him overcome his nervousness about roller skating.
“Our stage isn’t exactly huge and I’m definitely not a professional roller skater. It will be interesting to see who comes out of this unscathed,” he continued.
Tickets for “Xanadu” can be purchased for $15 in advance by visiting SE Theatre’s homepage at www.se.edu/theatre or by phone at 580-745-2696. Tickets will also be available at the door for $20.