Thursday, 3 March 2011

Xanadu the Musical ***

Xanadu the Musical
Book by Douglas Carter Beane, Music & Lyrics by Jeff Lynne & John Farrar
 Xanadu Marquee, Docklands Drive, until April 2, 2011
Reviewed: Kate Herbert on March 3, 2011
Stars: ***

All nine Muses, the Ancient Greek demigods that inspire artists, do their darnedest to inspire Christie Whelan. What else explains the light, colour and charisma escalating 200% when she appears on stage in Xanadu?

Whelan is tall, blonde and gorgeous. She dances, sings, acts and has impeccable comic timing as Clio, the immortal Muse who comes to earth to inspire Sonny (Sam Ludeman), a struggling artist, then falls in love with him as the mortal, Aussie chick, Kira.

Without Whelan, Xanadu would be a forgettable show. There are a few memorable 1980s hits (Magic, Xanadu, Evil Woman) but the others are forgettable with lyrics that offer little to elevate what a thin script, sketchy characterisations and predictable story based on the 1980 movie with Olivia Newton-John.

The direction (Christopher Ashley) is unimaginative, the choreography (Kelley Abbey) repetitive. Jokes are infrequent and mainly directed at 80s bad taste. Whelan provides most of the big laughs with her comic delivery, detailed characterisation and hilarious accent switcheroo. Her ridiculously broad Aussie accent, with its vowels stretched to breaking point, tickled the audience.

Ludeman is well cast and in good voice as Sonny. Luke Alleva’s tap routine is a highlight while Susan-ann Walker and Cherine Peck are a comic double act as Clio’s wicked sisters and the chorus has some funny moments as parodies of a Greek chorus.

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