George Mason High School XanaduBy Cappies • Nov 29th, 2012 • Category: Cappies
Ancient Greek mythological romance and a 1980s pop musical may sound like mutually exclusive performative styles, yet they are seamlessly joined in the charmingly ridiculous Xanadu. In a production bubbling with wit and personality, the students at George Mason High School took on this cult favorite with zeal.
Xanadu is a wonderfully silly musical comedy based on a 1980 cult classic film of the same name. The film rose to infamy for the abysmal quality of its story and production value, yet retained a soundtrack which was incredibly commercially successful. The plot centers on a Greek muse and demigod, Clio, as she attempts to inspire a frustrated artist named Sonny. Disguised as Kira, a young Australian woman, Clio seeks to help Sonny to create a glorious work which embodies the amalgamation of all art forms: a roller disco. In this journey, spurred on by the curse of her jealous sisters, Melpomene and Calliope, Clio and Sonny fall in love, a forbidden offense, and Clio must risk Zeus’s wrath. The 2007 production ran for over 500 performances, receiving a Drama Desk Award for Best Book and critical acclaim for its cheeky embracement of the tackiest, most fun aspects of the 1980s.
The technical crews at George Mason took on the challenge posed by this show with enthusiasm. Neon colors, woven through the lights, costumes, and set pieces, suggested the boldness of the 80s without the blinding overkill which is so tempting in a show this admittedly silly. Hot pink wheels on white roller skates, delightfully ill-fitting denim cutoffs, and fuzzy powder-pink leg warmers adorned the cast as they gallivanted about a set composed of rotating pieces, stylistically painted in a cartoonish motif to transport quickly between Venice Beach, the Xanadu Theater, and Mount Olympus.
In arguably the most impressive aspect of the production, the fantastic Xanadu Rock Band created near-flawless musical accompaniment. Coordinating seamlessly with the performers, and clad themselves in eye-catching neon attire, they refused to fade into the woodwork and provided a strong foundation from which to build this show.
Sophie DeLeo’s portrayal of Clio was elevated by a clear understanding of the bizarre, almost farcical style of the show. Exuding alternatively the poise of an ageless demigod, and the nervous giggle of a love struck 1980s teen, DeLeo took on the challenges of this role with ease. Gliding gracefully across the stage in roller-skates, while performing various and challenging choreography, all without a stumble, is a testament to DeLeo’s skill. Chemistry sizzled between she and Rand Walter, who portrayed the mortal artist Sonny, as they flirt in “Strange Magic.” Walter himself exhibited energetic control of comic timing and a wonderfully clear vocal tone which allowed him to shine throughout the night.
The fantastically wicked duo, Kiki Skotte and Lily Constance, created a hilarious portrayal of envious jilted muses Melpomene and Calliope. In one of the strongest numbers of the night, the two showcased their skill as vocalists, as well as brilliance as comedians, as they schemed in “Evil Woman.” Kiki Skotte’s strong voice and masterful musicality set her apart, while Constance’s endless commitment to her bold character choices incited laughter throughout the audience.
The performers and technicians at George Mason High School demonstrated not only their broad base of skill, but a willingness to adapt to a theatrical piece style, with a delightful production of Xanadu that did just what the story requires–not taking itself too seriously.
by Siena Richardson of McLean High School
Photos by Alison Kutchma
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