On Stage

Xanadu

A muse on roller skates

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

If a Greek muse who can sing like an angel and roller skate like a pro isn’t quite enough to pique your interest, then perhaps the fact that Xanadu also features forbidden love, rainbow-hued legwarmers, giant disco balls and a bestselling soundtrack will.

While the plot of the play adapted from the 1980 movie starring Olivia Newton-John often reads more like a science-fiction chronicle than a tale of true romance, there’s no denying the musical opening Fri., Jan. 12 and showing at various dates through Sun., Jan. 21 at the Bellingham Arts Academy for Youth is a memorable one.

The story begins in Venice Beach, California, where a chalk artist named Sonny Malone is so dissatisfied with his sidewalk mural of the Greek Muses that he’s seriously considering offing himself. It’s only when one of Zeus’ seven daughters, Clio, hears his interplanetary pleas and decides to motivate her sisters to make their way to Earth to inspire him that things turn around for Sonny.

“You have to believe we are magic. Nothing can stand in our way,” Clio as “Kira” sings to him “Magic,” the chart-topping hit first heard in the film version of Xanadu. She goes on to tell him that she’ll bring his dreams alive, align his planets, come anytime he calls and catch him when he falls.

These lofty promises, plus the muses’ clever disguises—which include the aforementioned roller skates and legwarmers—soon inspire Sonny to pursue opening a roller disco.

Spiteful sisters, Greek god restrictions and punishments, a greedy landlord, a growing love between Sonny and Kira, and much more singing and dancing fill in the Tony Award-nominated musical, which also features hit songs such as “Evil Woman,” “All Over the World,” “Have You Never Been Mellow,” and the title track, “Xanadu.”

In mortal hands, one might think it would be a stretch to turn the BAAY Theatre into a 1980s world of nightclubs, questionable fashion choices and roller disco. But the movers and shakers at BAAY have long harnessed the otherworldly power of creativity, and there’s little doubt the teenagers sharing their burgeoning talents onstage during Xanadu will have you believing in their magic.

With tutelage from director Dana Crediford, choreographer Lisa Markowitz, and musical director TJ Anderson, the performances focusing on forbidden love and following dreams promise to be out of this world—and that’s just the way it should be.

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