"XANADU" -- A MUSICAL OF MYTHS, MUSES AND MORTALS


BONNIE GOLDBERG

Myths and muses, romance and roller skates, seem an unlikely marriage but in musical comedy anything is possible. To prove the point, the Connecticut Repertory Theatre Company on the campus of the University of Connecticut at Storrs, in the spacious air-conditioned Jorgensen Theatre, is offering up a heavenly concoction with ambrosia and cherries on top: "Xanadu," with book by Douglas Carter Beane and music and lyrics by Jeff Lynne and John Ferrar.

Geographically, Mt. Olympus and California's Venice Beach seem a gazillion miles apart, but until Sunday, July 19, the twain shall meet in a delightfully light and fluffy pink cotton candy confection sure to sweeten you up. Come meet chalk artist Sonny Malone (Luke Hamilton) who has just finished a mural of the Muses from Greek mythology on a wall at the Santa Monica pier and is so critical of his work he is contemplating suicide. Arriving just in the nick of time is Clio, (Amandina Altomare) who has assumed leadership of her Muse sisters, complete in disguise as an Australian roller skater with leg warmers, springing to life from Sonny's artwork.

Clio, now renamed Kira, finds herself in the year 1980 with a major task to complete: to inspire Sonny to believe in himself and complete his dream of opening a tribute to all the arts: a roller disco. Two of her sisters, however, Calliope (Steve Hayes) and Melpomene (Ariana Shore) want her not only to fail but to anger their father, Zeus, by falling in love with Sonny, a mere mortal.

As Kira, Clio introduces Sonny to a big real estate tycoon, Danny (Dirk Lumbard), who has the perfect location for the anticipated arts center. With strange magic and some mighty manipulation, Club Xanadu becomes a riotous roller skating reality, thanks to the help of all the muses (John Brantley III, Connor Donnally, Jayne Ng, Taylor Alexander Stutz and Annie Wallace). They add fun and frolic as they help croon such tunes as "I'm Alive," "Magic," "Suddenly," "Don't Walk Away," "Evil Woman," "Fool" and "Xanadu."  Vincent J. Cardinal directs this tribute to love and artistic endeavors, with snazzy costumes by Lisa Loen and bouncy choreography by Cassie Abate.

For tickets ($10-55), call the Connecticut Rep at 860-486-2113 or online at www.crt.uconn.edu. Performances are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., with matinees at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.

Discover your own Xanadu, with the mortals at Venice Beach or with the gods on Mt. Olympus. Your delightful and heavenly choice!

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