BWW Reviews: SoLuna Studio's XANADU
To see an all-out fun production like Xanadu is certainly a pleasure. The musical, currently running at Hauppauge's SoLuna Studio, is entertaining and the talented cast delivers in all its campy glory. The story, a spoof of the atrocious 1980's movie, follows Kira who sets out to inspire a struggling artist in order to achieve his utmost creative desire... a roller disco!
For all my fellow 80's kids, you may recognize several of the hit pop songs in the Jeff Lynne/John Farrar score including "Strange Magic" and "Evil Woman" among others. This along with Douglas Carter Beane's Drama Desk winning - and Tony nominated - book, you won't be able to get this show out of your head for quite some time... but that's a good thing.
Indeed, the stage show could come off as bad as the movie if the right cast isn't involved. Fortunately, SoLuna got it right.
First, Karen Braun wonderfully - and very happily - directs the spectacle that runs through May 25th at the intimate Long Island venue. Additionally, we see Ms. Braun as part of the ensemble and she choreographs SoLuna's incarnation.
Katie Murano adorably portrays the aforementioned Kira (Kerry Butler's Tony nominated role from the 2007 Broadway incarnation). Actually, she is introduced as Greek muse Clio (pronounced Kleye-o) on a mission is to help Sonny, portrayed by Bobby Peterson, realize his dream to be a successful artist. She must first, of course, change her name and become a mortal disguised with roller skates, leg warmers, and an Australian accent. Chaos and confusion ensue when she descends upon Venice Beach, California, and Sonny acknowledges her. It seems Kira personifies - no pun intended - one of the themes from the story; never give up on your dream.
The rest of the talented cast is comprised of SoLuna vets Jason Donohue, Nicole Gebler, Alicia Bagley, Melanie Mednick, John Bagley, and Nick Caron along with newbies Sarah Matthews and Jake Ruhl. Fun story... the cast actually had an extended rehearsal period as it is a very physical show - all of them are on roller skates at some point. They were actually prepping while their last show was running.
Another highlight was the superb set. Typically they have the sides of the stage covered for backstage movement. For this production, however, they totally open up the stage and installed a ramp. Any movement is behind the back curtain of the stage. Generously donated by Broadway Workshop, the pillars on the corners of the stage is a great touch as well.
And so SoLuna certainly has a hit on their hands with Xanadu. See this show while you can as they have very intense shows coming up including bare, Rent, and Carrie. The whole production is a joy, the cast is very hard-working, and they interpret the quirkiness and humor the creators were going for.
Xanadu is presented by Soluna Studio of Hauppauge, Long Island, through May 25th. Book by Douglas Carter Beane, Music & Lyrics by Jeff Lynne & John Farrar, Direction and Choreography by Karen Braun, Music Direction my Danny Passadino, Lighting and Sound Design by Megan Pietroforte, Assistant Choreographer is Annie Zeiler. For more information and to purchase tickets, please call (631) 708-9681 or visit www.solunastudiony.com.