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XANADU Opens National Tour in Orange County, 12/15 - 12/27

The national tour of the musical adventure XANADU opens at the Orange County Performing Arts Center on December 15 and runs through December 27. This engagement is the only Southern California appearance scheduled on the national tour. XANADU is based on Universal Pictures' cult classic movie of the same title, which starred Olivia Newton-John and Gene Kelly. XANADU is being presented by producers Robert Ahrens, Dan Vickery, Mickey Liddell, Tara Smith/B. Swibel in association with Latitude Link.

This unique roller skating musical adventure set in the year 1980 follows the journey of a magical and beautiful Greek muse, Kira, who descends from the heavens and lands in Venice, California to inspire the first roller disco! Along the way she falls in forbidden love with a mortal, Sonny, and chaos ensues when her jealous sisters take advantage of the situation. "I laughed the entire time! It's great fun for the whole family!" exclaimed Olivia Newton-John. It's 90 minutes of family fun and inspiration to follow your dreams despite the limitations.

The journey of XANADU, which won the Best New Musical Award from the Outer Critics Circle and garnered four Tony® nominations, including Best New Musical, is not the traditional story about the creation of a critically acclaimed Broadway show.

XANADU seemed destined for failure. The film was universally panned by film critics on its release nearly 30 years ago and led to the founding of the "Razzie" awards (the antithesis of the Oscars). When producer Robert Ahrens decided to do a stage adaptation, he needed to spend half a decade securing the rights to do the show from five rights holders. Upon approaching New York playwright Douglas Carter Beane to adapt the film, Beane replied, "No way: XANADU sounds like career suicide wrapped in a nice box." Eventually, Beane acquiesced and, when reviews hit, XANADU had the last laugh. The New York Times declared it: "HEAVEN ON WHEELS …XANADU is outlandishly enjoyable and irrestible." The New Yorker critic Hilton Als wrote, "XANADU is so ridiculously brilliant, so lavish and sublime a confection that any set of adjectives you might come up with after a single viewing will more than likely be replaced by another set of ineffectual adjectives once you've seen the show a second time." Douglas Carter Beane (whose The Little Dog Laughed was nominated for Best Play at the 2007 Tony® Awards) would go on to win the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Book of a Musical.

In addition to being an actor, Douglas Carter Beane has written the script for Stephen Spielberg's hit film To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar and the plays The Country Club and Mondo Drama, which were also directed by XANADU's Christopher Ashley. Beane says "Our audience … loved all that political stuff, the satire. We got huge laughs….but the best reaction, the real connection, has been to our love story." Ashley added, "Of course another reason people love the show so much is our score. The songs in XANADU are amazing. These songs mean so much emotionally to so many people. So I think this show has something for people to think about. It's a non-stop playful stream of conscience experience about what it means to create something and as well as what it means to fall in love." Ahrens added, "It's silly and campy, but also heartfelt and life-affirming. When you see XANADU, you'll forget all your problems for just a little while."

The score, by Jeff Lynne and John Farrar, is now classic and includes the hits, "Magic," "Party All Over the World," "I'm Alive" and "Xanadu"-all top 20 Billboard hits. Lynne wrote and produced all of the music of Electric Light Orchestra (E.L.O). Farrar was also responsible for most of the hits that were performed by Olivia Newton-John in the 1970s.

Stepping into Clio/Kira's shoes for the national tour production is Elizabeth Stanley, who played the role in earlier sit-down productions in La Jolla, Chicago and Japan. Joining her are Max von Essen (as Sonny), Sharon Wilkins, Joanna Glushak, Larry Marshall, Tallia Brinson, Amy Goldberger, Vincent Rodriguez III, Jason Michael Snow, Kristofer L. Stock, Julius Thomas III, Tiffany Topol, and J.B. Wing. On Broadway, Kerry Butler and Cheyenne Jackson played the lead roles.

XANADU also features choreography by Dan Knechtges, scenic design by Tony Award winner David Gallo, costume design by David Zinn, lighting design by Tony Award winner Howell Binkley, sound design by Dan Moses Schreier, projections design by Zachary Borovay, wig and hair design by Charles LePoint and musical direction by Eric Stern.

For families, the Orange County Performing Arts Center has three special performances worth considering. In collaboration with The Broadway League, the Center has scheduled special KIDS' NIGHT ON BROADWAY performances of XANADU on Tuesday, December 15; Wednesday, December 16; and Thursday, December 17 at 7:30 p.m. XANADU is the ideal introduction to the excitement and wonder of live Broadway entertainment, and with the Kids' Night on Broadway offer, parents who purchase one full-priced ticket for themselves can receive a second ticket free for a child between the ages of 8 and 18. Starting one hour prior to the performance, kids (and their parents who remain kids at heart) will also have opportunities to join in activities such as playing '80s video games in the lobby, entering contests where cast members will be the judges, dancing in the Third Tier Lobby disco and more.

Photo: Elizabeth Stanley and Max von Essen by Carol Rosegg.

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Tickets to XANADU start at $20 and are available online at OCPAC.org, at the Center's Box Office at 600 Town Center Drive in Costa Mesa or by calling 714.556.2787. To take advantage of the Kids' Night on Broadway opportunity, use promo code KIDS. For inquiries about group ticket discounts for 15 or more, call the Group Services office at 714.755.0236. The TTY number is 714.556.2746. The 2 p.m. performance on Saturday, December 26 will be sign-language interpreted.

For more information visit: xanaduontour.com. Additional information about the Orange County Performing Arts Center can be located at OCPAC.org.


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