I can’t decide if I enjoyed Actor’s Theatre of Indiana's Xanadu more because I agree with its take on what makes human life worthwhile (love and art) or because it so joyfully recreates the goofy side of the 1980s. Either way, it is one entertaining musical.
I have not seen the 1980 movie on which ATI’s Xanadu is based, and that didn’t seem to matter, but I did get more of the show’s jokes because I remembered that Australian singer Olivia Newton-John of Grease fame starred in the movie.
The story follows sidewalk chalk artist, Sonny Malone (Dominic Sheahan-Stahl), who is so disappointed in his mural of the Greek muses that he decides to kill himself. One of the actual muses, Clio (Jenny Reber), is moved to disguise herself and inspire him to keep living and following his dream of running a roller rink/concert hall. Meanwhile, two of Clio’s sister muses, Melpomene (Judy Fitzgerald) and Calliope (Cynthia Collins), curse her out of jealousy. Muses risk the wrath of Zeus (Paul Nicely) if they fall in love with mortals. Clio falls in love with Sonny, and vice versa, but is it because of the curse or is it real? And if it is real, what will happen to them when Zeus finds out?
Under Billy Kimmel’s direction, Reber and Sheahan-Stahl’s excellent roller skating skills enhance the chemistry between their characters. It is fun to watch them fall (but not actually fall) in love. Even more surprise and delight comes from the strong supporting cast in the form of lovely dancing (choreographed by Allison Bibicoff), hilarious comedic touches and more.