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Legally Blonde - The Musical
Wednesday 2:00pm & 8:00pm
Thursday 8:00PM
Friday 8:00PM
Saturday 2:00PM & 8:00PM
Sunday 2:00PM, 7:00PM & 8:00PM
The Palace Theatre


Reviewed by Katharine Heller
katharineheller.com


To compare Legally Blonde the Musical to great theater would be like putting a Twinkie up against the Miso Black Cod at Nobu. But goddamn it, sometimes, nothing beats a good Twinkie.

Based on the box office hit of the same title, Legally Blonde rarely strays from the original script. For the five of you who are not familiar with the premise of the story, I'll sum it up. Beautiful Delta Nu sorority sister Elle Woods is crushed when her beau Warner dumps her before leaving for Harvard Law. Elle applies and gets
accepted to Harvard (even though I would assume the application deadline had passed- I never quite got that part, although the rest of the story is perfectly plausible) in hopes to win back her man. Long story short she realizes she doesn't need Warner, makes some new friends and solves a murder case in court along the way.

The stage translation is exactly what you would expect, complete with spunky dance numbers, an energetic young cast and tunes so catchy I might consider quarantine for a good few hours after the show. I still cannot get the opening number, aptly called "Omigod, You Guys!" out of my head. No, seriously, it's pretty frustrating.

The fresh faced and immensely talented Laura Bell Bundy as Elle carries the show with grace and confidence. Right behind her are Richard H. Blake as the arrogantly hilarious Warner and Christian Borle as her sweet love interest, Emmett. The obvious cast standouts however are Chico as her faithful Chihuahua, Bruiser, and Chloe the Bulldog as Rufus. (Rufus is the dog of Elle's friend Paulette played
by the singly named human, Orfeh.)

The amusing book, written by Heather Hach with music and lyrics by Laurence O'Keefe and Nell Benjamin, includes other engaging numbers such as the infamous, "Bend and Snap!" and "Gay or European". With crisp direction and choreography by Jerry Mitchell, this family friendly show is a lot of fun. Just make sure those you see it with have a sweet tooth.

Tickets $40.00-$110.00 212-307-4747 www.ticketmaster.com

Palace Theatre | 1554 Broadway




BILLY THE MIME in
AMERICA LOVESEXDEATH
Tuesday and Wednesday evenings at 7:00PM
Thursday through Saturday at 7 PM and 10 PM
August 23rd – September 29th
Opens September the 6th
The Flea Theater

Never a Mumblin’ Word

Reviewed by William S. Gooch

In America’s short history, three overarching themes dominate the cultural landscape: love, sex and death. We love sex, we love violence, and we are in love with what we love, even if it is bad for us.

In AMERICA LOVESEXDEATH, Billy the Mime has created a mélange of vignettes that illustrate the lives of famous and infamous Americans. Using very few props and, of course, no dialogue, Billy the Mime has formulated a production style that gives the audience an insider’s view into a particular cultural event or phenomenon.

The standouts in the 12-plus vignettes performed on September 5 at the Flea Theater were, “The Abortion,” “The Sixties,” “Thomas & Sally–A Night at Monticello,” “A Night with Jeffrey Dahmer,” “ A Night in San Francisco: 1979,” and “The Clown & The Beautiful Woman”. Although each vignette lasts no more than five minutes, Billy the Mime expertly conjures up images that remind us how much these cultural events and icons have informed our lives.

In “The Sixties,” Billy the Mime helps the audience experience such cultural images and icons as Mick Jagger, Jimi Hendrix, Richard Nixon, the Vietnam War, and the Summer of Love. With an arched back, puckered lips and defiant strut, Billy puts an ageless rock star front and center. Folded arms and the peace sign bring to mind the 37th President, and mimed scenes of protest and police brutality evoke anti-war demonstrations.

“Thomas & Sally–A Night at Monticello” is perhaps the most racially sensitive subject of the evening. Billy the Mime comically presents Thomas Jefferson as a man of the southern gentry with a dirty little secret. Between minuets with folks of his social class and standing, Jefferson surreptitiously sneaks out for a little hanky panky with sweet Sally Hemmings. With each clandestine rendezvous, Jefferson’s lust for his café au lait mistress grows stronger. Jefferson’s lustful urges are so powerful that he can barely resist the smell of Sally’s sexual sweetness on his fingers while dancing the minuet.

The most macabre vignette on the program was that of “A Night with Jeffrey Dahmer.” Billy the Mime acts out Dahmer meeting his victims, drugging them, killing them, cannibalizing them, and storing their heads in the refrigerator. Again, using only mime and movement, Billy takes the audience on this psychopathic journey without missing a beat. He unapologetically and eerily becomes Jeffrey Dahmer.

If there is one drawback to AMERICA LOVESEXDEATH, it may be that some of the vignettes are cultural and age specific. Case in point, in “ A Night in San Francisco: 1979,” anyone under the age of 30 may not have understood the reference to gay night clubs, multiple sex partners, and the beginning of the AIDS epidemic. Still AMERICA LOVESEXDEATH does what good performance art should do: educate, entertain and inspire. And all accomplished without a word mumbled.

Marcel Marceau eat your heart out!

Tickets for AMERICA LOVESEXDEATH are $35 Tuesday through Thursday, $40 Friday and Saturday. For tickets, visit www.theflea.org or call 212-352-3101.

Flea Theater| 41 White Street
Between Church and Broadway



Margaret Garner:
Medea in Sepia Tones
September 29th @ 8PM
New York City Opera

Reviewed by William S. Gooch

Most great stories in grand opera have tragic heroines. There is Flavia Tosca in Tosca, Cio Cio San in Madama Butterfly, and Lucia in Lucia Di Lammermoor, just to name a few. These operatic heroines usually kill themselves, someone else or go insane while singing gloriously about lost love, lost innocence or betrayal. No shrinking violets or dutiful wives and daughters here, only fully fleshed out, passionate women fit the bill.

In Margaret Garner, America has its first African American tragic heroine. Based on the true story of fugitive slave, Margaret Garner, who murdered her own daughter rather than have her return to a life of chattel slavery, the opera details the horrors of American slavery while showing one woman’s determined fight for freedom and human dignity.

With music by Grammy Award winning composer Richard Danielpour and libretto by Nobel and Pulitzer Prize Award winning author Toni Morrison, Margaret Garner combines rich atonal sounds with the revelatory expediency of Morrison’s words. “No more, no more” cry the slaves and their progeny in the opening scene of the opera. With this defiant affirmation, Morrison sets the tone for Margaret Garner. Unlike the passive, morally questionable characters found in Porgy and Bess, Morrison imbues each slave character with vision and righteous fervor. She also employs language that magnifies the indignities of chattel slavery. “How much, how much, for a mammy, pickaninny and a buck.”

Danielpour’s mixture of haunting melodies and dissonant chords illuminate the humanity of the slaves and their hopeless situation. By weaving gospel rhythms and the conviction found in Negro spirituals into the music, Danielpour accomplishes the difficult task of bringing authenticity without sacrificing dramatic urgency. If there is one flaw in the score, it’s evident in the second act where the music fails to dramatically support several climatic scenes. However, Danielpour is effective in the choral scenes, particularly the courtroom scene where the whites menacingly chant, “She is not like us.”

As Margaret Garner, Tracie Luck brings a rich, mahogany mezzo-soprano voice to her debut at New York City Opera. Her voice is utilized best in the aria before her rape where she convincingly sings, “Love is the only master my heart obeys.” Unfortunately, Luck’s lack of rage and desperation renders a milquetoast portrayal of Garner. The historical Margaret Garner was a defiant slave who not only killed her daughter to prevent her from being returned to bondage, but also courageously stood on trial for her crimes. This resolute defiance never quite comes across in Luck’s performance.

On the other hand, Lisa Daltrius gives a vocally powerful performance as Cilla, Margaret’s mother-in-law. With a transcendent voice that rings with celestial vibrancy, Daltrius creates a character that believes that freedom is just and ordained by God.

Gregg Baker in his New York City Opera debut as Robert Garner—Margaret’s husband—brings his deep, resonant baritone—familiar to many New Yorkers from his Metropolitan Opera performances—back to the New York stage. Baker portrays Robert Garner as a man on a mission. His bittersweet love duet, “ You are my shoulder, you are my spine,” with Tracie Luck is absolutely gorgeous.

Although Margaret Garner lacks dramatic cohesion and falls flat musically at times, it does expand the American operatic repertoire of tragic heroines. Finally, we have an American Medea. And she comes draped in rich, sepia tones.

Margaret Garner will be performed at New York City Opera through September 29.
See nycopera.com for more details.



Charles Busch's
Die, Mommie, Die!
Tuesday - Friday @8:00pm
Saturday 7:00pm & 10:00pm
Sunday 3:00pm & 7:00pm
October 18th - February 21, 2008
New York Stages

Reviewed by Allison Ford

When Charles Busch floats onto the stage in the first scene of Die, Mommie,
Die!
, he is met with a wide round of applause, both for the character he creates as an actor, and the world he creates as a playwright.

Besides being an extremely gifted comic actor and drag legend, Mr. Busch is a gifted playwright, who creates a world that is singularly decadent and bizarre, and lovingly received by his dedicated audiences. His quirky comedies are throwbacks to classic film genres, and Die, Mommie, Die! is one of the fullest realizations of Mr. Busch’s warped version of the past. Mommie takes place in the psychedelic 60’s in the life of a faded singing sensation, her dysfunctional family, and her surly domestic help.

Busch plays Angela Arden, a grande dame of yesterday, who wears ballgowns to do the gardening, and hides a dark secret. She was a singing sensation who married her producer, subsequently fading into the oblivion of former star, taking lovers and puttering in the garden. When her husband discovers her infidelity and threatens to divorce her, she exacts her revenge on him, forcing her disgruntled children to exact theirs on her. As Angela, Busch is superb – the perfect manifestation of self-indulgence and narcissism that would make even Gloria Swanson proud. The rest of the cast is equally spectacular. The characters of Angela’s daughter and son, based on Oedipus and Electra, are perfect sendups of sixties archetypes – she as the mod swinger, and he as the hippy gay college dropout.

Mr. Busch’s plays defy easy explanation or categorization. Psycho Beach Party, another standout among his works, parodies Beach Blanket Bingo¸ Vertigo, and classic B-movie thrillers. Die Mommie, Die! is no exception, taking inspiration from, as well as paying homage to, several films from the “wacko aging star” genre, including Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, Sunset Boulevard, and Mommie Dearest. Angela Arden could be Norma Desmond on an acid trip. In fact, there’s one of those in the second half of the play.

Although the world of the play is the not-so-distant past, it never feels irrelevant or staid, and although the setting is distinctly American, it feels like more of a fantasy than reality; a perfectly idealized version of a specific place and time. The world of this play (and the movie based on it) is one of bouffant hairdos, housecoats, dream sequences, minidresses, skinny ties, and shag carpeting. It’s brightly-colored, completely ridiculous, and incredibly bizarre. In this world, the daughter has an Electra complex, a poisoned suppository is a murder weapon, and Mommie is played by a man. The character of Angela is so suited to Busch’s personal strengths and comic quirks, that it is difficult to imagine any real woman having the same success playing her.

Mr. Busch’s talent is to take his plays to a completely hyperdramatic place – he follows the crazy all the way to the top, and the end result is grounded in some version of reality, but obviously far, far removed from it. This is a world where the leading lady can utter lines like “I’ve banished all my yesterdays,” with all the conviction and melodrama of a Scarlett O’Hara. And it works. Not only is the play itself scathingly funny, the performances of the cast are pitch-perfect; stylish and energetic. The play is directed by Carl Andress, a veteran of Mr. Busch’s plays, having also directed Shanghai Moon, and The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife. Such a stylized and particular play would be disastrous without the proper energy and direction, but Mr. Andress understands the style that Mr. Busch is trying to achieve with his plays; the delicate balance between melodramatic camp and modernity. Despite living in the past, Mr. Busch’s plays all tend to deal with some of his favorite themes, homosexuality (both latent and manifest), Judaism, and pop psychology, so the ultimate feel is very modern and relevant.

The scope of the story and the characters is limited - Mr. Busch doesn’t attempt to reinvent the wheel, or produce epics of Shakespearean depth. His aim is to be funny. He is a natural successor to John Waters; purveying camp with a subversive and loving touch. The secret, perhaps, is that even though the world of the play is madcap and ridiculous, we never doubt Mr. Busch’s love for it. Only a great lover of camp and melodrama could make us care so much about these ridiculous characters and their ridiculous misadventures. We’re laughing with them, not at them.

He is one of the best humorists working in the theater today, and despite the fact that his plays are most thoroughly enjoyed by viewers who know the films he references, his work is never inaccessible. To Charles Busch, the over-the-top world of Angela Arden, Die, Mommie, Die!, and the rest of his work is a world that’s modern, and relevant, and funny. Audiences are so devoted to his plays and his characters because the tongue-in-cheek humor and the references to classic films feels like an inside joke. Luckily, he lets us all in on it.

Ticket Price Info: $35.00-$91.50
Order Tickets By Phone: 212-239-6200 & 800-432-7250

New World Stages |340 West 50th Street
New York, NY 10019



 


Minimum Wage
Thursday and Friday @ 8:00 PM
Saturday @ 8:00 and @ 10:30 PM
The Green Room at 45 Bleecker

Reviewed by Katherine Heller
http://www.katharineheller.com

There are as many unfortunate stigmas attached to fast food employees as there are with new Off-Broadway shows. Both can contribute to feelings of animosity, impatience and in rare cases, physically nausea. But luckily when the two merge in the new Off- Broadway musical Minimum Wage, the result is a night delicious and satisfying fun.

What immediately sets this show apart from most musicals is the fact that it's all acappella. The talented cast of five blend harmonies, tunes and yes, awesome beat boxing to perform such songs as "Shake Your Booty With Danger and Balls." Created and written by Charlie LaGreca, brother Jeff LaGreca and with the musical assistance of Sean Altman, Minimum Wage follows the lives of five fast food workers at the fictional and aptly titled "Happy Burger".

The show begins when the you enter the basement of the theater at 45 Bleecker, as the Happy Burger staff/cast welcomes you with gifts, paper hats and yes, a job application. We soon learn that we are actually there as part of a "new trainee" session about the wonder of Hamburgerology which includes multitudinous lessons about the grill, french fries, Connecticut (you'll see) and meat, to name a few. Due to a series of unexpected events, it is up to the Happy Burger employees to run the seminar which has ordinarily been done by their boss via satellite. If we, the audience, pass the rigorous test at the end, the eager group of workers can attend a local acappella competition. The rest of the hour and a half we are not only taught about All Things Fast Food, but we learn a little bit about what makes each character function, facilitate and fry.

This is quite possibly one of the funniest shows I have seen in a long time. The experience from beginning to end was reminiscent to that of a hilariously dysfunctional family dinner, one that you wish would never end. All of the characters were so well defined and complemented each other exquisitely. This is no doubt because this is not their first run. A two-time veteran of the New York Fringe Festival, the cast has also been working together for almost ten years as an award winning acappella troupe. It's not just their chemistry on stage that makes this show special but the heart that goes into it. And it's also pretty friggin' hilarious. My favorite moment of many was the introduction of Kooky The Happy Burger Clown, played to perfection by Tony Daussat, who answers audience questions with his own brand of therapy. Other knockout moments include the aforementioned "Shake Your Booty With Danger" performed by the incredibly talented, Elana Meulener, and the sweet homage to family, "Dreams," which actually made me cry. I know.

Jeff LaGreca gives a knockout performance as Hux, the steadfastly dedicated brother of Orewell (his real brother Charlie). Bill Caleo is a superb as Bradbury, the troubled yet adorable fry cook who really means well as long as he stays away from a grill (I'll let you figure that one out at the show). And Charlie LaGreca should not only be commended for his extraordinary performance as the eager and simpleminded Orwell, but for his stupendous beatboxing skillz. (Yeah, I used a "z". It's that good.) Guy Stroman's excellent direction is very present based on the notable ensemble work.

This is the kind of show I would everyone I know over the age of 14 to. While it is overall a comedy, it is clearly not just a bunch of sketches; the through-line of the plot is genuinely poignant- remembering the value of dreams. And while it may seem like leaving a fast food job for an hour to sing is a mediocre goal, this enthusiastic gang reminds you that it is the little joys that make life worth working for. And unlike my last fast food experience, I want to go back.

Minimum Wage opens Saturday, October 20th at 8:00 at 45 Bleecker. Showtimes are Thursday and Friday at 8:00 PM and Saturday at 8:00 and 10:30 PM. Tickets are $45 and can be purchased through www.Telecharge.com or by calling 212-239-6200. For a limited time, $25 tickets are still available- check out www.burgerboys.com.

The Green Room at 45 Bleecker


 

 

Steve Sater & Duncan Sheik’s
Spring Awakening
Monday 8:00pm
Wednesday 8:00pm
Thursday 8:00pm
Friday 8:00pm
Saturday 2:00pm & 8:00pm
Sunday 2:00pm & 7:00pm
Eugene O'Neill Theatre

Reviewed by Frank J. Avella

When I first heard that Spring Awakening was moving to Broadway, I was a bit concerned. Would such an intimate show lose all potency and urgency in a big Broadway house?

Well the answer, thank the theatre gods, is a resounding no!

I am elated to report that this exciting, enthralling and oddly-enchanting production thrives at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre. And it’s improved greatly from the version I saw this past summer.

It’s still audacious and ambitious but it now has a wonderful sense of humor as well. The original production took itself a wee too seriously. But the gifted director Michael Mayer has found the perfect blend of comedy and pathos here. And it doesn’t hurt to have the extraordinary Christine Estabrook on board.

Based on Frank Wedekind’s highly controversial 1891 play The Awakening of Spring (not produced until 1906), and adapted by Steven Sater (book & lyrics) and rock star Duncan Sheik (music), the ‘play with songs’ (quoted by Sheik) focuses on adolescent schoolboys and girls at the age of sexual and spiritual awakening. The central figures being the good looking, wave-making Melchior (Jonathan Groff), his sweet, naive girlfriend Wendla (Lea Michele) and his troubled, oddball friend Moritz (John Gallagher, Jr.) as well as a slew of other angst-ridden, sexually-stirred, hormonally-bonkers characters.

Spring Awakening is mesmerizing to the eye--and ears. It’s a deliberately hard-edged visual and aural cacophony of the evils of repression--religious and societal (usually one begets the other).

The richly-rewarding anachronistic nature of the work adds to its originality and freshness. Although the piece is set at the turn of the last century, the actors whip out mikes and perform raw, intensely-modern rock songs. The device achieves a Brechtian break in the ‘period’ action. It’s as if the audience has warp-sped a century to a modern day rock concert. But the songs are the inner monologues and emotional mind states of Everykid. And that is why it works so well.

Sheik’s music is extraordinary, whether it be a heart-wrenching ballad (”The Song of Purple Summer”) or an angry rant (the fantastically fun “Totally Fucked”) and are matched by Sater’s intelligent lyrics and by the extraordinary ensemble’s vitality and conviction in song as well as performance. These guys were great last summer. They’re even better and seem more assured now.

“The Bitch of Living”, in particular, raises the levels through the rafters!

Melchior is that perfect blend of youth: a walking sack of sexual energy mixed with smarts and savvy and Jonathan Groff brilliantly brings him to life...and to despair as is necessary. Groff has a command now that is dazzling to behold.

Moritz is a tad more difficult since, as written he goes from frustration and confusion to doom very quickly, yet Gallagher, Jr. transcends the trappings and let’s us inside the loopy/scared mind of this tragic hero (especially in Act Two’s Don’t Do Sadness”).

Michele’s Wendla still feels too tentative as Wendla but she conveys naiveté much better and has an amazing voice. Lauren Pritchard’s Ilse still brims with sex appeal and evoked the perfect combo of tumult and rebellion. And king of smarm and charm, Jonathan B. Wright nails his role down perfectly as the gay survivor about to feast on his prey. His self-pleasure moment is a riotous combo of delight and embarrassment. Special mention to Gideon Glick as the adorable Ernst.

Newly added cast members Stephen Spinella, and especially, Christine Estabrook give the show a great lift as well.

Beyond the masterful score, near-perfect performances and deft direction, I had
a problem last time with feeling emotionally caught up in the lives of the characters. This, too, has changed. I DID feel passionately drawn into their worlds and I did care about their fates.

Spring Awakening is a triumph that should be seen by anyone who cares about the future of musical theatre.

Tickets $66.25-$111.25 at www.telecharge.com

Eugene O'Neill Theatre | 230 West 49th Street | New York, NY 10036





Xanadu
Tuesday @ 8PM
Wednesday @ 2PM & 8PM
Thursday @ 8PM
Friday @ 8PM
Saturday @ 2PM & 8PM
Sunday @ 3PM
Opened July 10, 2007
Helen Hayes Theater


Reviewed by Frank J. Avella

Okay, how bloody tiresome has it become for the Broadway theatregoer to have to withstand yet another screen-to-stage translation? In recent years, we’ve had to suffer through the abysmally bad (Saturday Night Fever, Footloose) and the not-so-bad-but-why-the-frig-bother (The Wedding Singer, Legally Blonde). And then there’s Disney, in the ‘ you own the world so just stop it already’ category. All this appropriation has shown a complete lack of originality and proven producers have no faith in the audience.

Of course, no one has tackled the bad Hollywood movie musical adaptation yet. Then again, exactly how many bad Hollywood movie musicals can actually boast having a terrific score? Not that many. Certainly very few in the last thirty years. Actually one. A notorious debacle from 1980 known as Xanadu.

Now, I have to admit to having my own personal love/hate relationship with the screen mess known as Xanadu. Every time I watch it (and yes, I have watched it many times) I keep waiting for it to be different. I keep wanting the performances to improve and I keep praying someone will come along and actually DIRECT and CHOREOGRAPH those great songs (written by Jeff Lynne and John Farrar) in some way that isn’t catastrophically impossible to watch. Alas, I am always disappointed.

Yet I keep revisiting Xanadu. Why? I have never quite figured it out. It isn’t even a very campy film--the kind that’s so bad it’s good. But it does feature Olivia Newton-John and Gene Kelly...and a tiny spark of a good idea...and have I mentioned the fantastic score?

When I read about plans to bring it to Broadway, I thought: “well, it couldn’t possibly be as bad as the film.” Then I read that Douglas Carter Beane, thanks to the dogged persistence of producer Robert Ahrens, had been cajoled into writing the book. At that point, I knew it would have some merit. And I knew that if anyone could tap into the reason why so many folks are Xanadu-obsessed, it was Beane. After all he was responsible for the brilliantly biting and insightful play, The Little Dog Laughed, the funniest work to hit Broadway in the last few years. (and of course it closed prematurely!) My hopes were high.

Then casting problems followed as well as the leading male (James Carpinello, the only good thing in Saturday Night Fever) being injured while skating and having to be replaced. Was all this a sign?

I am elated to report that--Spring Awakening notwithstanding--Xanadu is the best musical currently running on Broadway! Actually, it’s the smartest and most entertaining musical to open in quite a long time!

How could this be, you ask?

It’s fairly simple. Assemble the best creative team possible. Cast actors who are working at the top of their game. Shake. Stir. Shimmy. Skate!

Part of the heavenly ‘magic’ on display at the Helen Hayes Theatre has everything to do with a keen awareness of the tongue-in-cheeky satire at play. But no one ever condescends to the audience. Quite the contrary, they invite the audience in on all the jokes (and they are legion).

Beane has written an intelligent, witty and clever script and manages to work several miracles in the process. Firsty, he remains faithful to the original film while drastically improving the story, making spendid script alterations and adding much-needed character dimensions. He creates a believable, old-fashioned love story where the audience roots for Kira and Sonny--even though she’s a Greek daughter-of-Zeus pretending to be an Australian and he’s a mere mortal AND struggling artist.

Beane also does justice to each and every one of his cast of characters, so rare in a musical, especially one that clocks in at ninety minutes! Finally, he has penned a ton of ovation-inspiring one-liners that will have you howling with laughter.

The tremendously talented director, Christopher Ashley (along with choreographer Dan Knechtges), ingeniously finds enormously entertaining ways to stage those wonderful ditties mentioned earlier (so poorly rendered onscreen). From the delightful opening number, “I’m Alive” to the sensational title tune at the end, Xanadu explodes with an exuberant and euphoric energy and life, most musicals would kill for.

A new Broadway star is born in Kerry Butler. She is absolutely remarkable as Kira/Clio. Having seen her shine in Hairspray, Little Shop of Horrors and the devilishly delightful Bat Boy, I was still wholly unprepared for her performance here. She has perfect comic-timing and displays so much verve and charisma, you will truly have a tough time taking your eyes off of her. She also happens to be quite stunning. Her Kira is a rich parody of Newton-John infused with some daffy Nicole Kidman, yet she creates a loveable, complicated and quite memorable character that is ultimately her own. She also happens to have a powerhouse voice and is particularly divine singing “Magic” and “Suspended in Time.” Butler fascinates right up until the curtain call.

When you are able to look away from Butler, Cheyenne Jackson (All Shook Up) provides delicious eye-candy, but so much more than that. From his very first bit of dialogue, he seduces the audience and endears himself as a loveable lump of a hunk, wide-eyed and earnest. It’s a fabulous performance, filled with comedic gem moments. Jackson is also an excellent songman, tearing the roof off with the showstopping “Don’t Walk Away.” And, boy, does he look good in those denim shorts. Yikes!

Tearing through the production like two hungry tigresses are stage vets Mary Testa (as Melpomene, muse of Tragedy) and Jackie Hoffman (as Calliope, muse of Epics). These two scenery-chewing vamps have a bloody blast with their parts. The duo’s rendition of “Evil Woman” is rousing and ‘nasty’, in the best sense of that word. Testa’s turn is particularly Tony-courting.

The rest of the ensemble seem to be having the time of their lives as well with Curtis Holbrook providing a killer tap dance during “Whenever You’re Away from Me”. Veteran stage actor, Tony Roberts has his own fun in the Gene Kelly role and really impresses as Zeus. One of the oh-so-may highlights involves both the song “Have You Never Been Mellow” and the Harryhausen film Clash of the Titans. I can’t say more, lest I spoil a classic musical theatre moment.

So, what is it that Beane and the Xanadu team are able to do what the original filmmakers couldn’t? Because...they have found the magic in Xanadu as well as the irony and the joy. They tell a simple love story in a complex and interesting way. They comment on art and the creative gifts that are given to us. And they show us a damn good time while doing it. What more could we ask for? Okay, maybe just ninety minutes more, because once you see this show, you will want to see it again...

Xanadu Tickets $51.25-$111.25 Buy tickets online www.telecharge.com - Phone 212-239-6200 & 800-432-7250


Helen Hayes |240 W. 44th Street


 

 


 

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