Wednesday December 13th 2017

“Xanadu”

Drury Lane Theatre, announced a change in their schedule and added “Xanadu” for the 2012/13 season. Many theaer-goers were not impressed by this addition/replacement to the schedule as the touring company that played Chicago a few years back was so-so and the movie version ( on which this play is based) was a fun show for Olivia Newton-John, but again, far less than what we expect and anticipate at Drury Lane. Well, you are in for one hell of an entertainment experience when you see what the magical hand of Director/Choreographer Rachel Rockwell has done. Along with her esteemed production crew, Roberta Duchak handling the musical direction and a marvelous set by Kevin Depinet and Jesse Klug’s dynamic lighting, they bring this show to new heights. Add the wonderful costumes by Erika Senase, sound by Garth Helm ( with Ray Nardelli),projections by the always reliable and artistic Mike Tutaj and you have one of the best evenings of musical theater you could ask for.

What makes for a special entertainment is the cast- what a glorious group of actors.singer/dancers and in this particular show- roller skaters! they are just right! There may be some of you you who are unaware of the storyline of “Xanadu”. The movie was a showcase for Olivia Newton-John and Gene Kelly as it shows the journey of a magical ( and beautiful) Greek Muse,Kira ( Gina Milo / some may recall her performance in “Spamalot” which garnered her a JEFF nomination) who comes to California, during the 1980’s to be the inspiration for a young artists who is about to “hang it all up”. This is , of course, a fantasy about true love and inspiration. With a book by Douglas Carter Beane and music and lyrics by Jeff Lynne and John Farmer and featuring musical numbers such as  “Don’t Walk Away”, “Evil Woman” ( beautifully stage and performed to perfection by the two elder sisters played by Christine Sherrill and Nancy Voigts),”Dancin”, “All Over The World”,”Have You Never Been Mellow” and of course the title tune “Xanadu”- yes, these are very memorable songs, but even more-so from the brilliant performances brought to the Oakbrook stage. This may be to some a “fluff piece”, but the spirit that comes across from this production can make you feel that a dream is worth pursuing and with all that is happening around us, for many, dreams may be all they have!.                                                                   

This is truly an all-star cast that while small in numbers is large and powerful in talent. Sonny, the artists who feel sthat his dream cannot come true is played by Chris Criteelli, who started off a little slow, but as we learned more about his charcater, he truly shines in this role. He has a powerful voice, moves well and has just the right amount of charisma.The “sisters”/muses are played by Stephanie Binetti, the hysterical Sean Blake, Gary Carlson, Tammy Mader and the aforementioned ms Sherrill and Ms Voights ( who deserve multi-mentions). All of these actors take on additional roles as does the actor who take son the Gene Kelly role, Gene Weygandt, a Chicago favorite who always appears to be having as much fun on the stage as we the audience are having watching the story come to life. Danny represents a lost love where money meant more than his dreams and while he has made lots of money, he never found the love of his life ( which appears to be the same Muse) He also does a heck of a Zeus and I am sure it is not easy to play a God.Critelli and Milo have some great chemistry and despite the “hokiness” of the script, you care for both of them and truly want love to  win out in th eend.

There are also two pit singers who add some extra volume to the very solid music , Robin Childress and Jake Klinkhammer, who are also understudies. The orchestra under the direction of Ben Johnson is made up of four musicians who make the sound appear to be a full orchestra- bravo! Musical theater, for the most part is designed to be a diversion that will take one’s mind off the everyday “garbage” that we face; the cancellation from our largest client, the missed appointment, the bounced check into your account that caused you to overdraft etc, etc. By getting into someone else’s world, for two hours and watching and listening to well sung songs, the day’s problems disappear. If only for a few hours and your bed-time, for that brief period of time, you were smiling, laughing and in the case of “Xanadu” clapping your hands to the beat of the music and to the fine talent assembled on the stage. E.L.O. ( Electric Light Orchestra) may not be your favorite music, or even music that you knew they did, but you will be humming a few tunes on the way out o fthe theater and possibly for a few days to follow!

“Xanadu” will continue at Drury Lane Theatre Oakbrook  through October 28th with performances as follows:

Wednesday at 1:30 p.m.,Thursdays at 1:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.,Fridays at 8:30 p.m.,Saturdays at 5 and 8:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 and 6 p.m.

Tickets range from $30-$45. This is madness- a show this incredible for a ticket price this affordable and lunch and inner packages are available for as low as $49.75-$68.00, an even better deal- BUT WAIT! there are also discounts for Seniors and students and FREE PARKING.

This is by far one of the best theater values in the area and you can reserve your chance to have this experience by calling the box office at 630-530-0111, or Ticketmaster at 1 800-745-3000 or online at either www.ticketmaster.com or www.drurylaneoakbrook.com

The theater is located in Oakbrook , just to the North of the Oakbrook Shopping Center with easy access to all the highways.

To see other opinions, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to review round-up and click on “Xanadu”

Enjoy this amazing production and you may even want to go back for seconds.

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