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Theater Review: “Xanadu”

“Xanadu” plays through August 18, 2018, at OnStage Playhouse, 291 Third Avenue (near F Street), Chula Vista.
Photo credit:
Adriana Zuniga-Williams

Can a struggling (and not very good) artist find inspiration and love from a mythological figure and finally achieve his dream of opening a roller disco?

Come on, you know you’ve always wanted to know the answer to that burning question, and here’s your chance: OnStage Playhouse has a smashing version of “Xanadu” – the musical – on the boards through Aug. 18.

“Xanadu” started life as a not-so-hot film with Olivia Newton-John in 1980. Then playwright Douglas Carter Beane got hold of it and wrote a stage version. Jeff Lynne and John Farrar added some 80s-sound songs and voilà!

Meet Sonny Malone (a terrific Joshua Tyler Powers), a chalk-mural artist of little renown, who seems to have trouble even finishing, let alone selling a piece. Tall, self-effacing and utterly adorable, he is suffering artist’s block and is about to end it all with a jump off the Santa Monica Pier when a blonde vision appears with a hearty “G’day, mate.”

She calls herself Kira (Olivia Berger) and yep, she’s a bona fide Greek muse (via Australia), just what a struggling artist needs. She thinks he’s pretty cute.

Kira’s older sisters Melpomene, muse of tragedy (a wonderfully mean Debbie David) and Calliope, muse of epics (the unruly redhead with hair to match, played hilariously by Roxie Peters) get wind of Kira’s new heartthrob and conspire to put a curse on her that will make her fall in love with Sonny. As they all know, that is verboten in muse-land and will cause the Big Guy Zeus to banish her forever to the netherworld.

Just at the right time, Kira and Sonny see the Pan-Pacific Auditorium: the right space for the disco. As it happens, real estate developer Danny Maguire (Todd Sutton) wants to rent it. “Nothing turns a crap neighborhood around like the arts,” he says. “Then you can kick out the artists and sell it for more to the urban professionals."

Will Xanadu the roller disco become a reality? Will Sonny and Kira (whose *real* muse name is Clio) fall in love? If so, what will Zeus do?

My advice is to get yourself down to OnStage and find out.

Teri Brown (OnStage’s artistic director) helms this production and has found just the right cast to make it work. SeeJay Lewis adds many hilarious touches with his portrayal of Thalia, muse of comedy, and especially as a centaur.

Ryan Dietrich’s Terpsicore, a very large muse of dance, is too funny for words.

Doniella Mae Sebastian’s Erato (muse of lyrics and erotica) and Jovi Olivas’ Erato (muse of music) are also terrific.

Patrick Mayuyu’s choreography is frantic and frolicsome and funny.

But costumes are the major design stars here. Credit Ryan Dietrich and Pam Stompoly-Ericson for designing and making all of them . They are fabulous, starting rather ordinary, gradually moving to the more sparkly until at the end they are amazing.

Music director Martín Martiarena gets the right sound out of his fine quartet of musicians.

Did I mention that all these actors are on skates? Kudos to Teri Brown, OnStage’s amazing artistic director, for her ambitious programming and continued success. OnStage is lucky to have her.

It’s summer, and time for some frothy fun. “Xanadu is a guaranteed winner.

The details

“Xanadu” plays through August 18, 2018, at OnStage Playhouse, 291 Third Avenue (near F Street), Chula Vista.

Thursday through Saturday at 8 pm; Sunday at 2 pm

Tickets: (619) 422-7787 or www.onstageplayhouse.org