Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 28, No. 13, Ed. 1 Friday, August 12, 2011 Page: 33 of 56
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The pleasure dome
It may not be stately, but LGA's goofy 'Xanadu' is a great summer camp
ARNOLD WAYNE JONES I Life+Style Editor
Sonny Malone (Angel Velasco) isn't the
smartest guy in the room — and that's probably
true even when he's visiting the monkey house
at the zoo. He's the prototypical himbo, the
man who's at his best when he's just looking
pretty and keeping his mouth closed. Girls used
to get relegated to such status; now it's the
But Sonny does like to create
art, and he sees it in chalk draw-
ings on the sidewalk in Venice
Beach as well as the opportunity
to open a roller disco in 1980. (He
doesn't have much foresight: By
1981, disco — on wheels and not
— was dead and would remain that way for 15
years.) That's when Kira aka Clio (Misty Ven-
ters), head Muse (of the Olympus Muses), in ter-
venes. Her job is to inspire humans to create,
though she's forbidden to let them know that's
what she's there for or create anything herself.
That's what counts as a plot in Xanadu, the
very loose stage adaptation of the disastrous
Olivia Newton-John film of 1980 better remem-
bered for its soundtrack than for any recogniza-
ble dramatic energy. But playwright Douglas
Carter Beane took the loose idea of the movie
and molded it — and it was pretty moldy to
begin with — into a snarky, ironic period com-
edy where cut-offs, head bands, knee socks and
Converse high-tops are the peak of fashion.
The main problem with Xanadu jg, paradoxi-
cally, also it's chief Selling-point: Beane'S script.
It's Very inside baseball, with lots of kitschy in-
K.D. Studio Theatre,
2600 N. Stemmons Freeway. Ste.
180.Through Aug. 27. $20.
jokes about Southern California and gay culture;,
that simultaneously elevate the humor and
weigh it down.
"This is children's theater for 40-year-old gay
people/' one character cracks self-referentially,
letting the audience know the actors are just as
aware of how ridiculous, even inane, the whole
undertaking is, but sallying forth nevertheless
through a phalanx of puns and creaky one-lin-
ers. Beane dares you not to camp it up with him;
you resist at your peril.
All of which makes Xanadu fun
and completely frivolous. From
the sassy black drag queens who
are several of the Muse "Sisters"
to co-director and supporting
player Andi Allen in cat-glasses
and a Lucille Ball color-and-waye
haircut circa Season 2 of Here's Lua/, it's a calcu-
lated send-up of Gen-X iconography told with
The jukebox score is a pastiche of disco-era
radio hits like "Strange Magic" and "Evil
Woman," shoehorned together like the random
shuffle on an iPod ... if you like that kind of stuff
— and it's nearly impossible not to like it, consid-
ering how committed the cast is to the whole
aesthetic. This is Velasco's best stage work (he
played Juan in Uptown Players' Altar Boi/z three
years back), as he projects adorable stupidity
and naivete. ("Even my suicide notes are
cliches!" he whines in a moment of despair.)
The rest of the cast is equally adept (it ain't
easy dancing on roller skates), and this is Level
Grounds Arts' most polished production since
moving into the KD Studio Theatre. Gnarly,
Dignity. Integrity. Respect.
Michael Limerick, RN, PhD, ACNS, BC
Has joined the
2909 Lemmon Ave
Dallas, TX 75235
HAVE YOU NEVER BEEN MELLOW | A Muse (Misty Venters) inspires a bubble-brained street artist
(Angel Velasco) in the camptastic (and very gay) musical 'Xanadu.'
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Nash, Tammye. Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 28, No. 13, Ed. 1 Friday, August 12, 2011, newspaper, August 12, 2011; Dallas, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth239180/m1/33/: accessed October 17, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Special Collections.