Xanadu Gets a Rave Review!

 

Theater review:  Summer Musicals’ ‘Xanadu’ beats Broadway version

11:22  PM CDT on Tuesday, April 6, 2010

By LAWSON TAITTE  /  The  Dallas Morning News ltaitte@dallasnews.com

They’ve turned lots of old movies into musicals. Xanadu  sets the        record for improvement; it’s the best musical from the  worst film.

The 1980 Olivia  Newton-John stinkeroo did produce a lot of hits by  Electric Light Orchestra’s Jeff Lynneand the star’s favorite songwriter, John Farrar.  Two seasons ago, a stage version opened on Broadway with a new book by  comic playwright Douglas Carter Beane (who penned Give It Up! for  the Dallas Theater Center earlier this        year). It was a surprise  hit with critics and audiences alike. The        national tour hit the  Dallas Summer Musicals on Tuesday with an        explosive bang.

This company belongs to the growing number of tours that  actually play better on the road than they did on the Great  White Way. Many Broadway producers seem to feel they  must cast names recognizable to New York audiences, and that’s a limited  pool of talent. You can’t really call many of these performers stars in  the old sense, and the shows surely aren’t tailored to them.  Fortunately for us out here in the sticks, the producers feel free to  use less-familiar faces, sometimes much more able in their roles, on  tour.

Thus, the gorgeous Anika Larsen, as the muse Clio who  falls in love with a California painter, really looks like a goddess  and sounds like one, too. As the clueless artist, Danny, Max  von Essen is funnier and more consistent in his Valley  Boy accent (and a more secure singer) than his Broadway predecessor.

The superiority in this production continues pretty much all  the way down the line. Natasha Yvette Williams and Annie Golden are  especially delicious as the comic villains. As the aging owner of the  building Danny wants to turn into a roller derby, Larry Williamsturns a dreary role into a lovable one.

Xanadu  played in the smallest house on Broadway, but it feels         liberated, rather than dwarfed, in the immensity of Fair Park Music         Hall. The audience catches all of Beane’s well-crafted in-jokes. This  is        one self-reflective musical that doesn’t take itself too  seriously, or        seriously at all.

Thanks to  Christopher Ashley’s witty direction and Dan Knechtges’        inventive  choreography, Xanadu might just be the best time you        have  at a musical this season.

PLAN YOUR LIFE:  Through April 18 at Fair Park Music Hall. Runs        100 mins. $15 to  $71. Ticketmaster at 214-631-2787, http://www.ticketmaster.com

 

To see the review on The Dallas Morning News’ website, follow this link: http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/ent/stories/DN-xanadu08_0408gd.State.Edition1.41785f7.html

 

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