Seacoast Rep Presents XANADU

Seacoast Rep Presents XANADUHere's a recipe for "silly bliss" - take a Hollywood flop that became a Broadway hit, stir in Greek mythology and roller disco, add music by two pop greats and turn it over to The Madmen of Oopsy Daisy to direct at the Seacoast Repertory Theatre in Portsmouth.

That's what the Seacoast Rep is cooking up for its new summer offering. Xanadu, the musical comedy based on the 1980 movie romance starring Olivia Newton John and Gene Kelly, opens August 3. The stage musical is an affectionate parody of the movie, whose soundtrack became a million-seller with hits including Newton-John's "Magic" and Electric Light Orchestra's "I'm Alive."

In the hands of directors Ben Hart and Brandon James - the Oopsy Daisy duo that have put their dazzling stamp on several recent Seacoast Rep productions - Xanadu promises to be a riot of visuals and movement.

"It is a good, fun, wacky time the entire way through," said Alyssa Dumas, who plays the lead role of Clio, a Greek Muse.

In the story, Clio descends to Venice Beach to inspire struggling chalk artist Sonny Malone. To disguise herself as a mortal, she adopts the name Kira and puts on leg warmers and roller skates. Kira and Tommy set out to convert an old theater into a roller disco named "Xanadu," after the location of the "pleasure-dome" in a poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

For Dumas, the show meant learning how perform on traditional roller skates. "When I was growing up I took figure-skating lessons ... this one was definitely a challenge. It's been crazy, but I like it," she said.

Xanadu the movie was a box office flop and helped inspire the Golden Raspberry Awards for bad movies. Director Robert Greenwood received the inaugural "Razzie" award for worst director. Nevertheless, the movie eventually developed a cult following, and the soundtrack album topped charts internationally.

Rocker Jeff Lynne of the Electric Light Orchestra and John Farrar, who produced many of Newton-John's hits, provided more tunes and new arrangements for the stage version of Xanadu. The Seacoast Rep's production will feature a live band on stage.

In contrast with the movie's Razzie award for cinematic failure, the 2007 Broadway version of Xanadu earned four Tony Award nominations and a Drama Desk Award. The New York Times said the show featured "so much silly bliss to be had."

The Seacoast Rep's production seeks a balance between reverence and irreverence. "The movie was a big deal. Olivia Newton-John made it pretty iconic, with the hair blowing in the wind, the fingers across the face," Dumas said. "You have to believe in the silliness, but still make it an honest portrayal. It's giving that due to both sides."

The Oopsy Daisy team's production touches for Xanadu include a tap-dance duet, light-up roller skates and showers of Color Run powder tossed in the air. "They always oomph it up another notch, so that it's not just what you think you are going to see going into it," Dumas said. "It's always a blast."

Xanadu features most of the cast and the same directors as The Who's Tommy, the rock opera Seacoast Rep opened the summer with. "It's a good end-of-summer show - after Tommy," said Miles Burns, artistic director of the Seacoast Rep. "It has toe-tapping songs, and roller skates. And how can you go wrong with that.?" Xanadu is made possible through the generous sponsorship of Budget Document Solutions, D.F. Richard Energy, and Sue and Bob Thoresen.

Xanadu runs August 3-August 26. Show times are Thursdays at 7:30, Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 2 pm and 8 pm, and Sundays at 2 pm. Tickets are available through the Seacoast Rep box office at 603-433-4472, or online at www.seacoastrep.org/tickets. For student discounts, call the box office. The Seacoast Repertory Theatre's 2018 season is sponsored in part by Bondgarden Farms, Portsmouth Public Media, MacEdge and the Sheraton Portsmouth Harborside Hotel.

The Seacoast Repertory Theatre is a 501(c)3 non-profit theatre committed to providing a variety of programming for the community. The Rep presents professional programming through its Mainstage, alternative programming through its Red Light Series and also offers a variety of programs for youth and seniors.

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