Xanadu the Musical - Sutherland Arts Theatre (NSW)
Presented by Ikigai Entertainment. Directed by Meg Day. Choreographed by Jessica Kuit. Musical Direction by Nerissa Cavaliere.
Reviewed by Justin Clarke
Sutherland Arts Theatre, Sutherland. Until 5 March 2023
- Roll away with the colourful characters of 'Xanadu' in this colourful disco production -
Based on the Universal Pictures cult classic movie, Xanadu the Musical is a roller skating, disco adventure full of tongue-in-cheek frivolity, a sparkle of colours, and forbidden love. The Tony Award-Nominated production takes shape through a love of Greek Mythology with a twist, bringing Zeus’ muses from Mount Olympus to Venice Beach, California in the disco era of the 1980’s. Ikigai Entertainment takes on this challenge with a cheeky grin and an abundance of colour.
Xanadu takes us on a journey around the disco scene of the 1980s lead by Greek muse, Kira (Lacinda Fisk) as she enters the world of the mortals to inspire down-on-his-luck artist, Sonny (Kurt Russo), and his desire to open the world's first Roller Disco. But as with all Greek Mythology, forbidden love comes into play, and before they know it, Kira and Sonny fall madly in love with each other, which isn’t helped by Kira’s jealous sisters (Tanya Boyle and Sabrina Kirkham).
Director Meg Day leans into the ridiculousness of the story well in order to bring joyous moments of laughter and some stellar dance numbers choreographed by Jessica Kuit. The lighting design throughout the entire production is superb and brings a dazzle of colours to accentuate the larger dance numbers, bringing the audience into a dilapidated theatre and transporting us to Mount Olympus. Day handles her cast well to balance out each skill set and pairs each to their role well, whether that be the muse of comedy (Louis Vinciguerra), the muse of seduction (Carla Venezia), the muse of song (Alexis Hutchinson) or the muse of dance (Vincent Huynh).
Musical Direction by Nerissa Cavaliere gives the show a fluidity and vibrancy that is so pure it sounds as though it could have been a recording. To showcase Cavaliere’s work with her band, it would do the show justice to bolster the sound and give the production its party atmosphere.
The big drawcard for Xanadu is of course the roller skating element of the production, and Fisk glides around the stage as if she were born on wheels. Russo somewhat matches with his skill, but is not without some awkward manoeuvring. Day and Kuit could have leaned into this element further throughout the show, with only Huynh donning skates in the final number. Understandably the limitations of the set could have prevented this, but it would have made for some stellar dance numbers and a creative challenge for the team.
Xanadu the Musical is a heck of a show for any production team to take on, and Ikigai Entertainment do it with bravado and colour.
As Kira, Fisk owns a large portion of the stage time. Bringing a soft, yet alluring nature to Kira, she is a likeable enough lead, but is sometimes drowned out by the stronger singers on the stage. Her endearing characterisation and comedic chops helps her to pull the show along, noticeably never breaking a sweat in her swift costume changes.
Russo’s Sonny is a difficult character to make likeable. On paper, Sonny comes across as narcissistic and selfish and his only character arc is that he falls in love throughout the show. Russo takes this challenge head on, with a skillful voice and wholly convincing American accent and manages to give Sonny at least some semblance of recompense.
Joining the muses and the show’s two leads is businessman and former lover to Kira, Danny McGuire (Alexander Morgan). Morgan brings a considerable amount of laughs and heart to Danny as he revels in his character’s turn from money hungry businessman to the disco lover he truly is. The sound team needs to prepare themselves in future shows for mic dips in Morgan’s belly laughs that garner some of the best responses from the audience.
Xanadu the Musical is a heck of a show for any production team to take on, and Ikigai Entertainment do it with bravado and colour. With standout moments from its ensemble, whether it be Boyle and Kirkham’s cackling villains, Huynh’s sassy and leaping muse, Vinciguerra’s skilful tap-dancing, or Venezia and Hutchinson’s sultry voices, there’s enough here to feast on. With this being the first offering by Ikigai Entertainment, they prove themself to be rolling in the right direction.
Director Meg Day Choreographer Jessica Kuit Musical Director Nerissa Cavaliere
Starring Kurt Russo, Lacinda Fisk, Alexander Morgan, Tanya Boyle, Sabrina Kirkham, Alexis Hutchinson, Carla Venezia, Vincent Huynh & Louis Vinciguerra