Review of Xanadu

On Friday night in Page Commons, before an excited audience, Nora Hill `18 quoted Leonard Bernstein, “To achieve greatness, two things are needed; a plan, and not quite enough time.” Director of this year’s One Week, she then proceeded to introduce Xanadu as a fun and ridiculous musical that doesn’t take itself seriously. And it was exactly that. Filled with enthusiasm, Xanadu had the audience laughing and cheering for a full 90 minutes, all the while in awe that the show was put together in just one week.

Hill is the President of Colby’s student run theater group, Pow- der & Wig. Alongside her is Vice President Kelsey Book ’18, Production Chair Tayte Messman ’19, Social Chair Charlotte Purcell ’19, and Publicity Chair Kaylee Pomelow ’19. Powder & Wig puts on six shows a year, one of those being the One Week. e coming shows of this year include Dracula Rides Again and When We Were Young and Un-afraid. Each spring, Powder & Wig’s board nominates a mem-ber to choose and direct the One Week. “I wanted something relatively simple and exible because we have only a week to put it together. Xanadu is really silly but also makes profound points about the importance of art,” Hill said.

Xanadu tells the story of a struggling artist in the 80’s, Sonny Malone, who receives help from one of the nine muses of Olympia, Clio. On earth, Clio disguises herself under the name Kira and inspires Sonny to open a roller disco, which he describes as “the apex of all of the arts.” Sonny Malone, played by Chris Collmus ’19, was lovable, relatable and hilarious, jiving perfectly with the confident and beautiful Kira, played by Kyah Morrissette ’18. Kira’s sisters, Calliope, Euterpe, Melpomene, Erato, Thalia, and Terpsicore, bubbled with personality and spunk. Melpomene, the muse of tragedy, played by Erica Suttles ’20, stole the show with her rendition of “Evil Woman,” which she sang with daring vivacity as she planned her sister, Kira’s, demise. Jealous of Kira, Melpomene, casts a curse, making her fall in love with Sonny, which is forbidden and can be punished by Zeus with eternal damnation. Kira and Sonny fall in love and Kira receives a letter from Zeus brought to her by Hermes. When Kira asked Hermes why she was being summoned, Hermes hilariously retorted, “Bitch, I don’t know your life!” and the crowd erupt- ed with laughter. Filled with uproarious remarks, Xanadu most definitely kept things light in the most entertaining way. The cast was lively, confident, and the weeklong production process proved unbelievably impressive.

“Putting this together was pretty tough,” Hill said. “We were obviously super crunched for time. We had auditions last Wednesday and cast the show by midnight that night. The cast got the script for the first time last ursday and it was definitely hard to learn everything so quickly. We had rehearsal for seven hours straight on Saturday and Sunday and for four or five hours a day during the week.”

However, an audience member unaware of the One Week tradition would never have guessed that the show was prepared in just a week. Lines were memorized, blocking was executed, and choreography was well learned. Hill said, “It’s really exciting seeing it all come together. I just wanted people to have fun. It was a great bonding experience.”

Powder & Wig’s execution of set and costume design was on point. Tayte Messman ’19 was the stage manager and Tessa Hauptman ’18 was in charge of costume design. The set was simple, drawing attention to the actors. Images were projected onto the backdrop making for colorful scenes. For example, during Melpomene’s song, “Evil Woman,” a vibrant fire was projected on the backdrop adding a certain are to the number. Likewise, the costumes were colorful and glittery as if they had come right out of the 80’s. Converse, leg warmers, and hot pink were abundant.

While quite silly, Xanadu also comments on the power and necessity of art. Hill’s favorite part of the show is the musical number “Dancin’” as it brings together classical music with the more modern pop rock music, proving the timelessness of art. The song is an argument between Sonny and Danny, the older man that Sonny is trying to rent a theater from. With a generational gap, the two have quite different dreams for what to do with the theater. “It’s a competition that comes together really nicely,” commented Hill. The inspirational powers of music become apparent and the audience is left energized and hopeful.

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