Shawn Stalter, Chief Dallas/Ft. Worth Critic
The eclectic musical comedy, “Xanadu,” rolled in under the sparkling disco lights on the MainStage Irving-Las Colinas stage and delivered a passionate, upbeat and entertaining performance. Based off the lackluster 1980 film of the same name, the comedic musical, “Xanadu,” spins the tale of a talented Venice Beach, California artist, “Sonny Malone,” who, in the midst of a creative slump, inadvertently garners the attention of the Nine Greek Muses of Olympus.
As “Sonny” struggles through artistic self-doubt, the Greek Muses, led by the young and idealistic, “Clio,” descend from the heavens to lend a helping hand. “Clio,” to help break the ice with “Sonny,” transforms herself into “Kira,” a pink leg warmer wearing, Australian roller skating enthusiast. Together, they embark on a creative journey to transform a local theater venue, the Xanadu, into a center honoring the visual arts, music and, of course, roller skating and allow them to congeal into an artistic mecca.
Unfortunately, Clio has two jealous sisters, fellow Muses “Melpomene and Calliope,” who, in typical jealous sibling fashion, are hellbent on watching her fail. Together, they hatch a devious scheme to undermine her efforts with “Sonny,” wreck their blossoming relationship and initiate her downfall.
At its core, the story of “Xanadu” isn’t much more than a lighthearted, roller skate-clad musical comedy adventure overflowing with punchy one-liners set to an upbeat, 80’s inspired soundtrack. There is no deep emotional revelation in its characters’ interactions, nor is there an accessible struggle begging for the audience’s in-depth character analysis. Instead, it unabashedly offers a feel-good, sugary-sweet, unique theatrical journey designed to transport the audience away from their problems here on Earth for a couple of hours.
The cast and crew at MainStage at Irving-Las Colinas took the glitter-filled roller rink world of “Xanadu” and brought it to life with an inspired enthusiasm. It was readily apparent that, under the direction of Lon Barrera, the all-star team assembled here was given some breathing room to add unique, personal accents to each role. This approach yielded great results and translated into a group of performers who appeared to be having the time of their lives on stage.
In her role as “Clio/Kira,” Haley White delivered a well-rounded performance. She was as graceful on her two feet as she was wearing her roller skates. Her intentionally-awful Australian accent added a nasally-rich and light comedic element to the experience. Alongside her, Sonny, performed by the talented Dakota Davis, clad in authentic uncomfortably-short jean shorts and a tank top, also offered a passionate, praiseworthy performance.
As the dynamic duo of “Melpomene” and “Calliope,” Samantha Padilla and Laurel Collins provided some much-needed, well-timed comedic interaction. Together, they weaved some genuinely-funny moments into a production which, at times, had a somewhat flat comedic pulse. What the show may have lacked in laughs though, it makes up for in slick choreography from the mind of Kelly McCain.
In addition to lively acting and surging choreography, the musicians and cast did great justice with the upbeat 1980’s soundtrack composed by legends, Jeff Lynne and John Farrar. These widely-recognizable hits included “Magic,” “Suddenly,” and “I’m Alive.” Under the musical direction of Kristin Spires, these numbers came to life and added a crucial dimension to the show.
Highly-imaginative costuming for each character, courtesy of Torry Padden rounded out this production and gave it a dynamic, often ethereal quality. This was especially true during the scene on Mount Olympus, where the audience was treated to a Cyclops, Medusa and more.
If you’re in the mood for a light musical comedy set to some slick dance moves and a rad 80s roller disco soundtrack, be sure to check out “Xanadu” running through May 25th, 2019.
MainStage Irving-Las Colinas’ production of “Xanadu” is directed by Lon Barrera and stars Haley White as “Kira/Clio,” Dakota Davis as “Sonny Malone,” Doug Fowler in the roles of “Danny Maguire/Zeus,” Laurel Collins as “Calliope/Aphrodite,” Samantha Padilla as “Melpomene/Medusa,” Austin Ray Beck as “Thalia/Young Danny/Cyclops,” Briana Berk as “Euterpe/Thetis,” Jayden Russell as “Erato/Hera,” and Danny Vanegas as “Terpsicore/Hermes.”
Reserve your seat for an upcoming performance of “Xanadu” and learn more about MainStage’s future productions by visiting www.tickets.irvingartscenter.com/online or calling 972-252-2787.
Photo credit: Kris Ikejiri