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'Xanadu': The 80s come alive at Stages Repertory Theatre

Holland Vavra & Cameron Bautsch. Photo by: Bruce Bennett. Photo Courtesy of Stages Repertory Theatre
Holland Vavra & Cameron Bautsch. Photo by: Bruce Bennett. Photo Courtesy of Stages Repertory Theatre
Holland Vavra & Cameron Bautsch. Photo by: Bruce Bennett. Photo Courtesy of Stages Repertory Theatre

As Stages Repertory Theatre's 2013-2014 season comes to a close, venture with them into the 80s. The Tony nominated "Xanadu" rolls in with music, fun and entertainment for everyone to enjoy.

This is a musical stage adaptation of the 80s cult classic movie of the same name which starred Olivia Newton-John and Gene Kelly. This musical combines all elements of the production to create a crowd pleasing, must see event. The masterful directing and chorography of Mitchell Greco paired with the staging by scenic designer Laura Fine Hawkes and lighting by Bryan Ealey transports the audience back to the 80s. Musical selections prior to the production also help to prepare the audience for the show they are about to experience.

If you are a fan of the movie or you have never heard about "Xanadu" before, nothing can prepare for the true experience of this production. Be prepared for fun, excitement, music, singing, dancing, comedy, love, and a once in a lifetime show that audiences will hang around hoping for a musical encore.

"Xanadu" tells the story of Clio, or her mortal name Kira (Holland Vavra), leader of her nine Greek muse "sisters", who is sent to California for Sonny Malone (Cameron Bautsch) an artist seeking inspiration. Under no circumstances is Kira to reveal to a mortal her true identity or fall in love with one or else she will suffer eternal damnation. Kira as well as all the sisters seek to achieve Xanadu despite not truly knowing what that means. As Kira provides the needed inspiration to Sonny, she finds herself drawn towards Sonny despite her better judgment.

Unbeknownst to the pair, two of the sisters, Melpomene (Tamara Siler) and Calliope (Julie Simpson Garcia), set a curse on them so that they fall in love. This ensures that Kira will never be able to achieve Xanadu so another one of her sisters might. Once Kira can no longer fight her feelings, she is sent to receive judgment from Zeus (Thomas Prior). All seems lost but can Kira and Sonny survive this trial, create a dreamed roller disco and achieve Xanadu? The pair must battle all the whimsical forces and ensuing comedy to find out.

Actress Vavra has a big voice to live up to tackling the leading role originally performed by the stunning and impressive Olivia Newton-John. Vavra rivals and makes the character her own with flawless vocals. Her range and vocal control steals the show. Vavra backs up her vocal performance with perfectly delivered comic timing. Her delightful personality shines through her character drawing the audience into her struggle as we await a happy outcome.

Sonny played by Bautsch matches Vavra’s stage presence and compliments her in vocals and performance. He offers a sincere performance that comes across as honest and allows the audience to relate to his situation. Despite the unreal circumstances, he portrays everyone as they struggles for inspiration and the ability to believe in the power of love.

The supporting cast including Kristopher Stanley Ward, Mark Ivy Kathryn Porterfield, Shanae’a Rae Moore, and Amanda Marie Parker offers the perfect assemble to ensure the show is a hit. Stand out performances by Mark Ivy as Thalia and Centaur (among others) and Garica as Calliope offers many of the funniest production moments. Overall, each actor holds their own and gives the audience a show they are not soon to forget.

A production that succeeds partly for understanding the insanity in its plot, it offers constant wit and humor often at its own expense. Flawlessly executed one liners or highlighting limitations in the production, such as actors carrying multiple roles, adds a clever and fun element that gives an overall light feel to the production. Every element of this show works to create a near perfect production that audiences can just sit back and enjoy.

Audiences and actors alike find themselves entranced by the light and fun feeling in "Xanadu". Whether rediscovering or taking a first look, this production is an instant hit and sure to leave a lasting impression on all who get to experience the magic of "Xanadu". Don't miss your chance to see this musical spectacular.

"Xanadu" runs through June 29 at Stages Repertory Theatre. For ticket information, visit their site at or call 713-527-0123. Find out what is coming up next and what is in store of the 2014-2015 season. Also connect with them socially and never miss a production.

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