Greek gods of 'Xanadu' roller skate into Chatt State - Nov. 8-10

Greek gods of 'Xanadu' roller skate into Chatt State - Nov. 8-10

November 7th, 2013 by Clint Cooper in Chattnow Art

Kira (Paige Salter), center, has a curse placed on her by her jealous sisters, Melpomene (L'Shante Faunteroy), left, and Calliope (Kimberlin Lancy), right, so she will fall in love with a mortal, Sonny Malone (Bobby Burkich), rear, in Chattanooga State's "Xanadu."

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IF YOU GO

* What: "Xanadu."

* When: 7:30 p.m. today and Saturday, Nov. 8-9; 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 10.

* Where: Chattanooga State Community College (C.C. Bond Humanities Building), 4501 Amnicola Highway.

* Admission: $15 adults, $10 students, $5 children 12-under, free for CSCC students/faculty/staff.

* Phone: 697-3246.

The 1980 romantic musical fantasy "Xanadu" was so panned -- despite its soundtrack containing five Top 20 singles -- that it received the initial Golden Raspberry Award (Razzie) for Worst Director and was nominated for six other Razzies.

But the 2007 Broadway musical adaptation of the same name, which kept the basic story and music but satirized the plot, was a hit, garnered several Tony Award nominations and spawned a successful national tour.

The Chattanooga State Theatre and Music departments will present the latter "Xanadu" on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 8-10, at the school's C.C. Bond Humanities Building.

"It's kind of a spoof of itself," said director Sherry Landrum. "It's so self-reflective" and also has elements of "a send-up of historical movies."

The now-cult classic movie, which starred Olivia Newton-John, Michael Beck and Gene Kelly, focused on a mortal painter who falls in love with a non-mortal muse and, with the help of a friend, they open a roller disco in Los Angeles.

Got it?

In the stage production, the muse has two jealous sisters and, in order to solve their problems, they journey to Mount Olympus. But it doesn't become all Clash of the Titans. Sure, there's Greek gods, but there's also roller skating, a tap-dance number, the roller disco itself and the songs that made the movie a cult classic, numbers that Newton-John and the Electric Light Orchestra scored hits with such as "Magic," "All Over the World," "Suddenly," "I'm Alive" and "Xanadu."

Added to it are Newton-John's earlier hit "Have You Never Been Mellow" and ELO's earlier single "Evil Woman."

"It's fun," said Landrum. "The music is really good."

The play was chosen, she said, "because we had the people who could do it. The choice [of productions] is student-first."

The glitzy movie and Broadway production had to be simplified for the CSCC stage, Landrum said, but the generic Venice Beach backdrop gives it the proper setting. Ramps and other "clever" set pieces help turned the stage into the eventual roller disco "Xanadu," the name of which comes from a line in a Samuel Taylor Coleridge poem -- "In Xanadu did Kubla Khan/A stately pleasure-dome decree."

Musical director Jennifer Arbogast and choreographer Lindsay Fussell had their hands full with the many musical numbers, including some on roller skates. Some of the actors knew how to skate and some didn't, Landrum said, so they had to work that out so cast members didn't "go out into the audience" during the show. Visits to the skating rink were even part of the rehearsal, she said.

"It's fun to do a spoof," she said. "It's not deep drama; it's a lot of fun. That's the most important thing."

Contact staff writer Clint Cooper at ccooper@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6497. Subscribe to his posts online at Facebook.com/ClintCooperCTFP.