Review: Xanadu at Drury Lane Theatre

Music and Lyrics: Jeff Lynne & John Farrar
Book: Douglas Carter Beane
Location: Drury Lane Theater
Director: Rachel Rockwell
Music Director: Roberta Duchak

A sold out show… Who would have thought? Particularly what was originally considered a total flop when the original film came out turned out be quite a hit on Broadway and various theatre groups throughout the country.

Not to be confused with Zanna Don’t, the off Broadway production about a fairy that helps people in Heartsville fall in love (and how homo sexuality was the norm while heterosexuality was forbidden… But that’s a different story / post)… Xanadu is a call back on 1980s music, dance, and peculiar story telling. Not that I am complaining.

The stage at Drury Lane is relatively small and curiosity piqued my interest in seeing how this particular production would pan out. The first thing I noticed was that the cast was comprised of only ten persons… which seemed rather small to me. At least until I noticed that the original cast was comprised of, at least the original intent was to have most of the cast playing multiple roles… and honestly that is fine by me.

By having most of the cast play multiple roles, the audience could focus more on the music as opposed to understanding who is playing what role. And the music… to say the least… was not only interesting but upbeat, catchy… while at the same time be odd, out of place, and coming out of left field.

In my first trip to New York, there many patrons that recommended Xanadu as a must see show… that as bad as the original film version was, the musical was above and beyond funny. Unfortunately I did not see it then… thus the intent to see it now. However, as entertaining as the Drury Lane production was, it was not nearly as funny as I was expecting the production to be.

Sure there were moments that I couldn’t help but smile, but for the most part there were jokes and interactions that just kind of fell flat.

I suppose after the opening number where two of the “sisters” were very outrageously crazy men dressed extremely flamboyantly… my expectations at the comedy factor really did sky rocket… and the remainder of the production simple did not reach that same level of comedy from the opening song.

The acting was relatively funny and the transitions were seamless… I was impressed by the transition of the “photos” of the muses on the wall to them “popping” out of the wall. That was done really really well.

Unfortunately… when looking back at the individual actors, no one really stood out to me in terms of acting as much as their costumes (Pegasus, Medusa, Hera being tied up against pillars)… which is not necessarily bad but not great.

All in all, it was an entertaining quickie romp in the hay, but not necessarily a production I would run to see again.