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Roller skates and disco

'80s pop culture rolls on to Tacoma Musical Playhouse

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According to the Merriam Webster online dictionary, Xanadu is an idyllic, exotic or luxurious place. How that translates into a roller disco is a question best answered by early-1980s pop stars and Tacoma Musical Playhouse. The musical Xanadu, on stage at TMP through Feb. 12, is based on the Universal Pictures film of the same name starring Olivia Newton John.

Part parody, part musical, Xanadu tells the story of 1980s chalk artist Sonny Malone and his involvement with the Greek Muses. Sonny is unhappy with his art and determined to commit suicide when he's visited by the Muses who travel to Venice Beach, Calif. to inspire him. Because of Zeus' rules, Clio (Leah Wickstrom in TMP's production) must disguise herself; she does so by wearing roller skates and leg warmers, sporting an Australian accent and calling herself Kira.

Naturally, Sonny decides to open up a roller disco with Kira/Clio's help. Two of Kira/Clio's sisters are jealous and curse Clio/Kira and Sonny to fall in love. Clio/Kira realizes that she has broken her father Zeus' rules and returns to Mount Olympus to receive her punishment. Fate intervenes and Kira/Clio receives the Xanadu promised to her by Zeus.

Wickstrom is adorable as Clio/Kira and channels Elle Woods from Legally Blonde. Matt Posner plays "bonehead" Sonny Malone with great skill. All the actors do a fine job of singing and dancing; the tap number is especially entertaining. 

The main technical drawback of the production is the imbalance of the microphones. During the duets, Malone's volume wasn't loud enough and Wickstrom overpowered Malone. Likewise, when the entire cast sang, a couple performers could be heard over everyone else, making the number sound thin. Occasionally the singers were difficult to hear over the all-electric orchestra.

Director Jon Douglas Rake opens up the show by stating to the audience, "You don't need to think today at all," and he was right. Xanadu is quirky, campy, and pokes fun at itself in an awkward way that allowed the audience to sit back and laugh at the absurdity.


through Feb. 12, Friday-Saturday 8 p.m.
Sunday 2 p.m., $20-$27,
Tacoma Musical Playhouse,
7116 Sixth Ave., Tacoma

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Comments for "Roller skates and disco" (1)

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Culpeppie said on Jan. 28, 2012 at 11:24pm

I absolutely loved this performance. We saw it the second weekend so didn't notice any problems with microphones and singers. Kira/Clio (Wickstrom) was phenomenal, terrific, delightful. I can't say enough accolades about her. The rest of the cast was outstanding, and I loved the spoof completely. One almost has to see it again to hear all of the added funnies. We are TMP yearly subscribers, and this was by far the most enjoyable play for us. The audience gave the cast quite a standing ovation. I love to laugh, and this play certainly gave me that opportunity.

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