Tag Archives: musicals

Xanadu at the Reston Community Center

This past Saturday night my husband and I saw the Reston Community Players production of Xanadu. I’ve never seen the reportedly terrible movie, and before RCP staged it I didn’t know the musical even existed, but I had been told to expect roller skates, Greek mythology, and a heaping helping of the 1980s. And wow, did it ever deliver. Clio, the leader of the nine Muses, comes to earth to inspire chalk muralist Sonny Malone to embrace his artistic dreams. He wants to create a space where all the arts come together: dance, music, painting, even athletics. He wants to build….a roller disco! (“How timeless!”) Meanwhile, Clio’s older sisters Melpomene and Calliope plot to curse her to fall in love with a human (strictly forbidden), but mostly just succeed in stealing the show.  (Especially Calliope, played by Emily Jonas, who was by far my favorite character in the entire show.) The music is all ’80s pop, including some familiar hits like Evil Woman and Strange Magic.

It took me a couple scenes to realize that the acting was supposed to be campy, melodramatic, and completely over-the-top, but once I did I really began to enjoy myself. The humor is not subtle: people sing guitar solos, dance around on roller skates, speak in hilariously terrible accents, and are all generally ridiculous. I laughed hard and often.

In addition to never taking itself at all seriously, with only a single act Xanadu doesn’t drag or overstay its welcome. This production in particular kept things moving at a steady clip, with quick dialog and upbeat songs and, more often than not, something bizarre going on in the background. Definitely recommended if you get the chance, but be prepared for some intense silliness.

Xanadu is playing at the Reston Community Center for one more weekend. Purchase tickets here.

Jekyll and Hyde

I first encountered the musical Jekyll and Hyde a few years ago when it came to Ball State. I’d never heard of it (aside from the original Robert Louis Stevenson book, of course) but I’ve always been drawn to demented tragedies so I went. I really really liked it. I liked its dark, twisted music and themes. I pulled out my soundtrack the other day and have been listening to it, and though the story is still quite compelling, I’m reminded of its definite flaws.

First, some of the lyrics are just ridiculously bad. Not all of them, mind you, but there are a several phrases that sacrifice flow for the sake of rhyme and end up sounding really awkward. And maybe it’s just the singers taking too much liberty with the tempo, but sometimes it sounds like there are just too many words for the number of notes allotted them. Plus, I would have liked the composer to have spent just a couple more months writing two or three more songs so “Facade” doesn’t have to be reprised four times. No, I’m not exaggerating.

But you know what makes it all worth it? Not the big numbers like “Good’n’Evil” or sensuous ballads like “In His Eyes” or even the one song people have actually heard, “This is the Moment.” No, it’s the second-to-last song in the entire show that gets me every time: “Confrontation.” Here, Henry Jekyll and Edward Hyde finally talk to each other in a kind of duet…all sung by one man, of course. Through lighting tricks, music cues, and of course excellent acting, it almost seems like two men arguing instead of one wrestling with his inner demons. It’s a truly brilliant piece and makes me wish the rest of the show could have lived up to it.

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