Surflight’s ‘Xanadu’ Is So Bad It Hurts So Good!



(UN)GODLY HUMOR: The eight Muses share a tune and phase set in … Los Angeles? By natural means! (Photos by Pat Trotter)
“Xanadu,” now actively playing at Surflight Theatre, is a patched-up jalopy of a musical, one particular that could crash by means of a guard rail and around a cliff at any next. Surprisingly, it rather gives a hilarious 90-moment pleasure ride.
You really don’t have to imagine this reviewer’s impression that the present, which opened on Broadway in 2007, could have been a disaster. The show’s guide writer, Douglas Carter Beane, had Zeus (Jonathan Van Dyke) say as significantly in his script: “This is 1980,” the king of the gods inform his daughter Clio. “The Muses are in retreat. Creative imagination shall continue being stymied for many years. The theatre? They’ll just get some stinkeroo motion picture or some songwriter’s catalog, throw it on phase and simply call it a display.”

That is specifically what the creators of “Xanadu” did, using a  terrible 1980 film of the similar identify as its base. How terrible? Wide range named it “stupendously bad,” a sentiment that was repeated by most other reviewers. As for its new music, it leaned heavily on tracks by the Electrical Mild Orchestra such as “Evil Lady,” “Strange Magic,” “Don’t Walk Away” and “All More than the World” as effectively as hits by Olivia Newton John – who starred in the motion picture – these types of as “Have You Never Been Mellow.” Sorry, but that track created me convert yellow, as in ill, back again in the day.
Then there is the reserve. Zeus isn’t the only god, demigod or mythological creature to seem in “Xanadu.” There are the 9 Muses, the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, the Titan goddess of memory. There’s Clio (Ashlyn Fenn), Calliope (Kelsey Kaufman), Melpomene (Alison Nusbaum), Euterpe (Sophia Swannell), Erato (Kayelin Leon), Polyhymnia (Bridget Bailey), Thalia (Noah A. Lyon), Terpsichore (Ryan Mulvaney) and Urania (Willie Beaton II). Of course, the final 3 sisters had been played by men, as if the show’s e book is not complicated plenty of.

For illustration, most of the musical isn’t established on Mt. Olympus but fairly in Venice Beach. And what is a spot called Xanadu – which was where Kubla Khan had his stately summertime pleasure dome in Mongolia, in accordance to poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge – carrying out in both Greece or California? Pray explain to why there is a faucet dance scene – albeit a extremely great one particular – with the Andrews Sisters in the center of a demonstrate that celebrates the 1980s? Perplexed enough nonetheless?
To explain, let us get down to the coronary heart of the story in additional ways than just one.
In 1980, chalk artist Sonny Malone (Dorian Quinn) does not like a mural of the Muses he has drawn. He is so depressed he is about to commit suicide, leaping from the Santa Monica pier.
“‘Goodbye, cruel entire world,’” he writes. “Oh, God, even my suicide notes are cliché. Ok, how about this? ‘For I could have instructed you, Sonny Malone, this globe was under no circumstances meant for a single as beautiful as you.’ Oh, damn, now I’m plagiarizing Don McLean.”
Goddess Melpomene (Alison Nusbaum) shares a hilarious hiss with her wicked head of hair.
Clio decides to assistance Sonny with her Muse ability. But there is a dilemma – the Muses will have to by no means allow artists to know they’ve been helped by a Muse. So before she approaches Sonny, she improvements her name to Kira, dons roller skates and leg heaters, and adopts an Australian accent. She figures Sonny will in no way figure out he’s interacting with a demigoddess:
KIRA: Sonny Malone, I’m likely to make you the idol of all the continents as you reach good inventive creations.
SONNY: Wait around a moment. I know who you are. Are you a Scientologist?
KIRA: No. My religion’s a minimal older than that. My 8 sisters and I –
SONNY: Oh, so you’re Catholic. Properly, I do have one particular idea, it is kinda stupid.
KIRA: Share it with me now.
SONNY: I imagined perhaps for one minute I could make all the arts converge in a single place, painting, tunes, dancing and possibly even athletics.
KIRA: You necessarily mean?
SONNY: Yes, I would like to open up a roller disco.
Sonny discovers a rundown auditorium known as the Xanadu. If set up, it would be ideal for his artwork palace/roller disco. But, of class, he does not have the dollars to lease it and take care of it up. After all, he is certainly a starving artist.
Still, he telephones its proprietor, Danny Maguire (Van Dyke, doubling roles, as do several actors in the forged) and will get an appointment for him and Kira to converse to him. Maguire quickly thinks he recognizes Kira/Clio – she experienced been his Muse, without having the roller skates and Aussie accent, 35 several years in the past when he built the Xanadu and he, like Sonny, experienced large inventive visions. Alas, he gave up on them and turned his appreciate of artwork to the enjoy of funds, making condos. And Maguire thinks it simply cannot possibly be Kira/Clio for the reason that she has not aged a bit.

Kira and Sonny have a additional major problem than striving to rent and spruce up the Xanadu. Two of her sisters, Calliope and specially Melpomene, are plotting versus Kira/Clio, jealous that Zeus produced her the head Muse inspite of Melpomene getting the oldest sister. They curse her, building her fall in appreciate with Sonny – which is pretty much a death sentence, thinking about their father does not approve of his demigods falling in really like with mortals. His punishment? “Eternal banishment in the netherworld.”
Come on, it isn’t offering everything away to say really like wins out, even although Clio must develop into a mortal herself. Stupid performs nearly always have a happy ending.
And have no doubt about it, “Xanadu” is about as poor as you can get. Nevertheless it is riotously good. How can that be?
A single, much of Beane’s reserve is purposely silly, with adequate cheesy lines – “Mighty Zeus, king of the planet and keeper of the clouds. Clio has gotten what she warrants. To stay and die in L.A.!” – to fill a Cabot Cheese creamery. Delectable!
Two, Surflight’s “Xanadu,” directed by Paula Hammons Sloan, is about as quickly-paced as is achievable. If you skip a joke or pun – and which is uncomplicated to do, specially with Fenn’s Australian accent and high-pitched portrayal that reminded me at periods of Carol Kane’s Ghost of Christmas Existing in “Scrooged” – really do not fear, there will be an additional just one in just a handful of seconds.
3, despite the problem of knowing some of her lines, Fenn is wonderful as Kira/Clio, a sprightly Muse if you’ve at any time noticed 1. And don’t forget, she not only has to keep up a rat-a-tat-tat of dialogue, but has to do so on roller skates!
“Xanadu” is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside of an enigma of a show, tremendous bad but super fantastic at the similar time.
“Xanadu” will operate at Surflight as a result of Aug. 29. Tickets are $41 for adults and $31 for youngsters 12 a long time of age and more youthful and may be ordered on line at surflight.org, by cell phone at 609-492-9477, or at the box office environment, found at 201 Engleside Ave. in Seaside Haven.
— Rick Mellerup
rickmellerup@thesandpaper.net

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