‘Xanadu’ brings the ’80s back to life

The cast of “Xanadu.” Photo/Special.

In 1980, Australian pop sensation Olivia Newton-John and Hollywood song and dance icon Gene Kelly starred in a movie musical that many hoped would re-introduce the genre to a new generation of movie-goer. Instead, “Xanadu,” skated its way to becoming one of the most critically panned movies of the 80s and sounded the death knell for the movie musical for two more decades. Although the movie was a failure, the soundtrack with tunes penned by Electric Light Orchestra and Newton-John’s writing partner, John Farrar, became a record-breaking platinum hit.

Songs like “Magic”, “Xanadu”, “All Over the World”, “Suddenly”, and “I’m Alive” all broke into Billboard’s top 20. In 2007, Broadway producers, believing in the strength of the movie’s soundtrack and its recent cult following, decided to revisit the material, and the result was an intelligent,hilarious, and endearing spoof of the movie. “Xanadu” was nominated for several Tony Awards and ran for over a year on Broadway. Now this hit musical is making its way to the stage of The Legacy Theatre in Tyrone. When asked why he chose to produce “Xanadu,” a show that has no immediate name recognition to most, artistic director Mark Smith made it clear that the movie and the musical have a wide appeal across many generations.

“Our grandparents grew up with Gene Kelly, our parents, grew up with Olivia Newton-John and ELO. Young people today know the name because of the hit show in New York, so it actually does have name recognition. It’s got a wonderful message—art is timeless and important to a society—it’s got fantastic music, and it’s hilarious. It’s perfect!” Smith is also excited about the talented cast for this show. Made up of some familiar faces as well as new talent, “Xanadu”’s small cast of nine, according to Smith, is one of the best they have assembled. Taking on the starring role of Kira (Olivia Newton-John in the film) is Legacy executive producer, Bethany Hayes Smith. This marks Bethany’s first time on the Legacy stage in about four years.

“Not only do I have the opportunity to sing these hit songs,” said Smith, “but I also get to dance in tap shoes AND in roller skates. I love it!” Jeremiah Hobbs,will portray the role of Sonny Mallone. Although the role was brought to life by a lackluster Michael Beck in the movie, Hobbs’ comedic ability will have audiences rolling at his portrayal of the free-spirited, beach bum artist.

Completing the cast are Dave Dorrell, Jenna Tamiseia, Nancy Riggs, Mandy Mitchell, and newcomers to the Legacy , Marissa Durzbanski and D.J. Grooms. The show will also boast a live band featuring Paul Tate, Becky Clark, Ryan Bagby and Robert Black. Xanadu will perform April 19-May 12, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays at 3 p.m..

Onstage seating is also available for this show. Just inquire in the box office when you make your reservation. Call 404-895-1473 for reservations or go online at www.thelegacytheatre.org.

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