Xanadu – Drury Lane in Oakbrook Terrace

 

Book by Douglas Carter Beane

Music & Lyrics by Jeff Lynne & John Farrar

Based on the Universal Pictures film

Screenplay by Richard Danus & Marc Rubel

Director/Choreographer: Rachel Rockwell

Scenic Design: Kevin Depinet

Music Director: Roberta Duchak                                       

Greek Mythology with Roller Skates

If you want to have a crazy good time, let go of any prior notions and enjoy the absurdities of Xanadu! With no notion of what this show entailed, I did not read the program before I watched a forlorn suicidal chap open the show by telling his woes as an artist. Then seven Greek demigods show up. A little preposterous you might say…indeed. But, very quickly you believe that all is possible, as you sit back to watch the mayhem with some of the most varied music and comedy ever.

Xanadu demands not only a strong musical lead but quirky acting as well, and Chris Critelli as (Sonny) meets the challenge.  No less wonderful with the same demanding requirements including a lot of roller skating on precise cues is Gina Milo.  She plays the role of Kira, originated by Olivia Newton-John in the 1980’s movie.   Acting as a muse to Sonny, Kira smoothly sings while the wheels turn under her.   Sonny and Kira’s several harmonizing duets alone are enough to merit seeing the show.  But a strong supporting cast rings out with familiar hits like “Have You Never Been Mellow” and “All Over the World”.

Xanadu is a mixture of the 1940’s and the 1980’s in song.   It combines one swing number with hip hop that can open your eyes and ears to interesting musical possibilities both in song and dance.  Gene Weygandt, who played the Wizard of Oz in Wicked in Chicago and Broadway provides the gravitas for the soft shoe numbers, yet the angst for his character.

In spite of its designed chaos, everything about Xanadu seems to fit together including the very clever but simple set, which unconsciously changes atmosphere and location via technical magic, lighting, color and fog.  After all,  we are watching an artist and his muse.  The set goes from glitz to soft romance, to Mt. Olympus and back again seamlessly.  Keep in mind the majority of the stage is open for dancing and skating.  And the beautiful Greek goddess costumes contrast with the colorful Venice Beach , California roller folks’ costumes.

The laugh lines from the original script meld with updated ones from today, and there really is something for everyone.  The comedy bubbles with dumb silliness, camp, irreverence, satire and even slapstick.   The singular jokes are funny and most original,  at least to my ears.  Again, there is something for most everyone.

If you want to feel young again and remember the days when love offered all possibilities, or you are young and believe in all possibilities, Xanadu is for you.   While the over-the-top antics may seem superficial, they conclude with an underlying message about love that warms ones heart

Highly Recommended.

Margaret Eva

Date Reviewed: September 13. 2012

At Drury Lane Theater                                                                                                                           

Oakbrook Terrace, IL                                                                                                       

  – September 13 through October 28, 2012

Performances are Wednesday thru Sunday

Tickets – $35 to $46 – with Senior Citizen discounts for Wednesday and Thursday matinees.