Reston Players to Present XANADU, Begin. 3/7
Sick of the never-ending winter? Find your leg warmers, grab your roller skates, and travel back in time with the Reston Players to sunny California in the 1980s for their upcoming production of the irreverent frothy musical Xanadu.
Director Joshua Redford said Xanadu is sure to be a crowd pleaser. "How do you follow up an epic and engrossing crowd pleaser like LES MISERABLES?" Redford asked. "You do it with roller skating, leg warmers, disco balls, ELO, and Olivia Newton -John. The only thing this show is missing is a dog and a kid. Believe me, if I had my bulldog, Francis, from Legally Blonde, I'm sure I could've found a way to work him in."
Xanadu is a light-hearted tongue-in-cheek musical adventure based on the 1980 cult classic Olivia Newton-John/Gene Kelly film and featuring an award winning book by Douglas Carter Beane. It tells the story of Kira, a magical and beautiful Greek muse who descends from the heavens to inspire struggling artist Sonny to achieve the greatest artistic creation of all time - the first ROLLER DISCO! Chaos abounds as Kira defies the laws of Zeus and falls in love with Sonny while struggling to outwit her jealous sister muses.
The score retains the hits from the film and also includes new arrangements by Eric Stern of "I'm Alive," "Magic," "Suddenly," and "Dancin'," as well as interpolating two classic Electric Light Orchestra songs, "Strange Magic" and "Evil Woman," plus John Farrar's "Have You Never Been Mellow."
"Whenever directing a comedy a director needs to decide how far is too far," Redford said. "It is very easy to play for cheap laughs, but in doing so I believe you lose the sincerity and the heart of the story. At the core, Xanadu is a love story. It's about a love for your art and what happens when you give up your love, and what happens when you pursue your love, no matter how daunting the task."
Richard Durkin, originally from Chatham, MA, will be playing the dual roles of Zeus, the chief god of Mount Olympus, and Danny, the king of Los Angeles real estate. He last appeared at Reston Players in The Drowsy Chaperone as Underling, the singing and dancing butler. "When (director) Josh Redford noted that he was looking for someone more "mature" to play the role of Danny/Zeus, I just had to audition," Durkin said. "Not everyone gets to be the #1 Greek God, and an LA real estate tycoon in one show! It also gives us all the chance to relive a bit of the 80's again."
Russell Silber of Falls Church, VA plays the struggling artist Sonny Malone. Russell has performed in everything from opera to murder mystery in theaters all over Southern Maryland, Washington D.C., and Northern Virginia. This season he had the pleasure of sharing the stage with Xanadu cast mates Sean Cator and Evie Korovesis in the WATCH nominated A Chorus Line at The Arlington Players. "The ridiculous premise and catchy pop rock score trick you into thinking it's a simple show, but there's a lot going on there," Silber said. "It would have been easy for the show to simply lampoon a bad movie but that wouldn't resonate with audiences the way this show has. Through all the jokes, 80s references, and jabs at the film, there's something lovable and endearing about these goofballs. I think audiences will be surprised at the stakes these characters deal with and how much you root for them to succeed, even as you're laughing at them."
Evie Korovesis of Alexandria, plays Kira, the muse who inspires the roller disco. Korovesis, whose past shows with Reston Players have included The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Lend Me a Tenor, and Legally Blonde, said learning how to roller skate was the hardest part of preparing for the role. "I never roller skated before this role," she said. "Okay, so we all went to the roller rink for birthday parties when we were younger, but I was the one who sat on the side and watched. It's been a journey but I'm so proud of myself for trying something out of my comfort zone in a place where I feel the most comfortable: on stage."
Sam Nystrom, of Washington, D.C. and a Reston Players veteran performer, plays Terpsicore, the Muse of Dance. Nystrom said the chance to roller skate onstage was a huge draw in auditioning for the role. "I love the music from this show," he said. "It's a hysterical script and the pop music is super catchy."
Alexa Yarboro, from Herndon, VA, plays Euterpe, the Muse of Music. Yarboro said she was surprised by how goofy and over the top Xanadu is. "My knowledge of Xanadu before being cast was it was 'that roller skating show,'" she said. "It's fresh and exciting to do a show that I don't already know and not having the cast recording cemented in my mind."
Silber said audiences should expect Xanadu to pull them out of the winter doldrums because it finds the balance between not taking itself too seriously and telling a good story with high stakes for the lead characters. "It's been a long, harsh winter," Silber said. "Xanadu is dripping with California fun and sun that sets it apart from all the beautiful but ultimately sad and tragic musicals that have dominated this season around town. Xanadu wears its zany and unapologetically ridiculous heart on its neon-colored sleeve. I've had so much fun working on this show and I hope audiences have as much fun grooving in their seats. Plus it's got roller skating...on a stage. And leg warmers. What other show this year has that?"
Redford said he hopes audiences leave the theater humming the iconic songs of Olivia Newton-John, fondly remembering the cult movie, and laughing at the absurdity of some of the events that transpired on the stage. "Whether you are a fan of the movie or not, you are sure to leave Xanadu with a smile on your face and warmth in your heart," he said. "Xanadu is the perfect remedy for this long, cold winter."
Xanadu is directed by Joshua Redford and music directed by Matt Jeffrey. It is produced by Daryl Hoffman and Carol Watson. Performances begin March 7. Xanadu will play at CenterStage March 7, 8, 14, 15, 21, 22, 28, and 29 at 8:00 p.m., with 2:00 p.m. matinees on March 16 and 23.
The cast of Xanadu includes Evie Korovesis as Kira, Russell Silber as Sonny Malone, Katie Rebecca Cheek as Melpomene, Emily Jonas as Calliope, Richard Durkin as Danny Maguire/Zeus, Alexa Yarboro as Euterpe, Megan Hubbell as Erato, Sam Nystrom as Terpsicore, and Sean Cator as Thalia.
All Reston Players mainstage productions are performed at CenterStage at the Reston Community Center, 2310 Colts Neck Road, Reston, Va. CenterStage is handicap accessible and offers listening devices for the hearing impaired.
Tickets can be purchased through www.restonplayers.org or by calling the CenterStage box office at 703-476-4500 x 3.
Photo by Traci J. Brooks Studios