Xanadu is the story of a mischievous Greek mythological muse Clio (Heather Marie Beck) who is sent to Earth to inspire Sonny (Greg Twomey), a young artist on the brink of despair after he deems yet another one of his paintings unacceptable. Disguised as an Australian roller skater, Clio encourages Sonny to open a roller disco with real estate tycoon Danny Macguire (David Bosley-Reynolds). Complications arise when Clio’s sister Muses Melpomene (Maria Egler) and Calliope (Tierra Strickland) place a love spell on Sonny and Clio in order to gain more power for themselves.
Who would have thought that one of the worst-rated movies of all time would turn out to be adapted into one of the hippest musicals of the past decade? Xanadu, with a very funny book by Douglas Carter Beane, and music and lyrics by Jeff Lynne and John Farrar, is currently wowing crowds of all ages at Toby’s Dinner Theatre of Baltimore.
With a pop music voice Simon Cowell would love, Heather Marie Beck shimmers as the cunning Clio. Songs like “Magic” and “Suddenly” showcases her vast vocal range with charisma and flair. Greg Twomey as Clio’s love interest, Sonny, proves to be a magical partner to Beck. He’s handsome and goofy like Clio. The love between Sonny and Clio seems so natural, and it puts all of the happy couples in the audience in a romantic mood.
Trying to spoil the new lovebirds’ happiness are the wicked (and wickedly talented) sisters Maria Egler and Tierra Strickland. Their performance of “Evil Woman” definitely steals the show and has the audience members dancing in their seats. While the remaining muses – Thalia (Chris Rudy), Euterpe (Katie Heidebreder), Erato (Crystal Freeman) all sing and dance their hearts out, it’s David Gregory’s flamboyant comedic performance as Terpsichore, that steals the hearts of the audience and has them cheering and laughing at and with him. There were extra cheers from the audience when Gregory re-entered the stage for the finale of the title song “Xanadu” on roller skates wearing tight metallic pants! With his roller skating tricks and spiffy tap dancing on top of a desk – no less – James Birernatowski added a special element to the show.
Scenic Designer David A. Hopkins has built a set that easily transitions from a city street to the home of the Greek gods. He makes sure to leave room for several audience members to sit amongst the cast, and they truly become a part of the show!
Creating dazzling lights and smooth shadows, Joey Wallen’s lighting design sets just the right mood from the soft, pink glow that lights Clio’s way to Mount Olympus to the miniature mirrored disco balls used for the finale. The audience is granted a special surprise in Act II when Properties Manager Amy Kaplan’s past in puppetry is put to good use. Trust us…you’ll love it!
Director Daniel McDonald, who was a big fan of the Broadway production, has a clear understanding of how to bring Xanadu to life in a whimsical, entertaining, and meaningful way. So strap on your roller skates, grab your leg warmers, put your cassette tape in your Walkman, and make your way to Xanadu at Toby’s in Baltimore!
Xanadu runs through August 28th at Toby’s Dinner Theatre in Baltimore, 5625 O’Donnell Street, in The Best Western Conference Center in Baltimore, MD. To order tickets, call (410) 449-1660 or (866)-99-TOBYS, or order online.
The running time is approximately 95 minutes with one brief intermission.