Come back to the beginning of the 1980s with Bellevue High School and experience roller skating, disco, music from Olivia Newton-John and Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) in the surprise Broadway hit Xanadu.
It seemed odd the teens who were born during the 90s would pick something so dated but director Angela Sommers gave the kids a list of shows and they chose Xanadu. They had recently gone to a Drama State Conference though and saw someone else do it and loved it.
“It’s a cheesy, funny, whimsical comedy,” says Sommers, “there’s hardly anything serious; it’s bright colors and high energy.” For those old enough to remember the movie, it starred Olivia Newton-John and Gene Kelly, although not in the leading male role. The movie has more of a cult following of those for fondness of disco, roller skating and the music of that time featured heavily in the film. Much of the fun of the show is hearing that music – possibly again; songs like “Have You Never been Mellow”, “Magic”, “Suddenly”, “Evil Woman” and, of course, the title song “Xanadu”.
WANT TO GO?
WHAT: Xanadu (performed by Bellevue High School
WHEN: April 4 and 5 at 7:00 p.m. and April 6, 2014 at 3:30 p.m.
WHERE: Bellevue Elementary School, 1150 Castalia St.; reservations not necessary; doors open half hour before the show
COST: $8.00 adults; $5.00 seniors and students
Most of the cast did not know how to roller skate. One of the leads, Austin Curliss, got a job at Sonic to learn to skate as did four or five others in the show. The female lead, Allison Gunther, is on skates 95% of the time. “The Bellevue Rec Center opens up their doors and I let the kids skate it out [to begin with],” says Sommers. The kids who were not comfortable skating are not on skates, but the majority of them are skating.
The storyline begins with Sonny Malone who wants to be an artist and chalks a mural at Venice Beach of the Nine Sisters. Kira, one of the muses, steps out of the picture and inspires Sonny to be an artist. At some point he decides to open a roller disco called Xanadu - different kind of art, music, and entertainment. Naturally, they fall in love but muses are not allowed to fall in love with mere mortals and her sisters are none too pleased.
Sommers claims, “This is the most fun I’ve had directing a show. The kids are ambitious and determined. They’ve worked so hard to skate, learn their lines and get the dance moves down. It’s been so easy because they love it and are having fun.”