Friday, March 5, 2010

Playhouse Square: Xanadu

An unbelievable night of fun. Or to shamelessly steal a line there's going to be a party all over the world... or maybe just Cleveland's Playhouse Square

So I've seen Xanadu once before -- at California's La Jolla Playhouse while visiting my parents for Christmas 2008 and I hadn't originally planned on seeing it again... until the opportunity to purchase on-stage seating came along. What can I say, I'm a sucker for the on stage thing; it sucks you into the energy (If you thought Spring Awakening's Totally F---ed was an energetic dance number, imagine it with the band 4 feet away and an actor jumping up and down waving his or her middle finger inches from your face)

So tonight I ventured to Playhouse Square with some vague memories of the show (and my mother's "You gotta get the glow stick! Don't forget the glow stick!" resonating in my head...I swear she seems obsessed) and I was impressed. It was reasonably well sung, well acted, and above all well-skated; I'm not sure how the actors manage to do all three simultaneously without catastrophe. While I didn't fall for any of the music in particular, I did find myself leaving the theater humming Evil Woman along with the air-guitar ba-da-bum-bum. Now if only cupid would pay me a visit.

The show was a comic delight and I found myself marveling at the number of California jokes -- including several dozen that I missed the first time through, and a few that seemed to miss their mark on this Ohio audience. Well-paced, the 90-minute intermissionless production seemed to fly by. And Yes, I got the glow stick.

The casting was excellent, and I was going to comment on the striking similarity between Sonny (Max Von Essen) in the touring company and the La Jolla Playhouse company -- until I realized that it's the same person.

I would reccommend seeing the show for the first time from the house, but if you can make it on stage, you're in for a unique experience. (And I'm actually tempted to return and watch it from the house). It's far from a serious night of theater--just like the 80s were far from a serious decade--but it is a reasonably entertaining 90 minutes.


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