Tag Archives: theater

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.

Sweeney Todd at Signature Theatre

Sweeney Todd
Signature Theatre
4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington, VA
February 9 – April 4, 2010
Buy Tickets

My husband and I saw this show on Thursday night, the 11th, and thoroughly enjoyed it. We’d decided to go because we’d enjoyed the movie and knew the play would be longer, fuller, and better. And indeed, it was. Staged in a black box-style setting with sparse but deliciously detailed sets, we were absorbed in the ambiance of the show even before the lights went out: smoke machines, blood dripping into buckets, randomly dimming light fixtures, and assorted noises set the mood. The play started all at once, and instantly we were pulled into the action of this crazy musical horror-comedy.

The cast, over all, was just great. The ensemble was very tight, though sometimes they were singing so quickly I couldn’t understand them. Sweeney Todd himself (Edward Gero) had some of the best facial expressions, adding humor and depth to character. This was when I was especially glad for the intimate setting, because I was able to actually see his face more often than not. Mrs. Lovett (Sherri L. Edelen) was simply a delight. I was introduced to this character via Helena Bonham Carter, whose singing voice in that role, er, leaves a bit to be desired. Edelen was able to balance the ridiculous accent, the droll inflection, and the crude mannerisms with a striking voice that was both funny and pleasant to hear.

Now, while I feel Tobias Ragg (Sam Ludwig) did a marvelous job and has a beautiful voice, he was simply too old to play the character. Toby is supposed to be, at the very most, a teenager, but the fellow playing him was clearly well into his 20s. This is no fault of the actor’s, to be sure, but it did distract from the realism a little bit. The other youngish male lead, Anthony (Gregory Maheu), looked distractingly like Jude Law. This says nothing about his performance, which was fine, but it’s all I really have to say about him.

The villains were fun: I actually preferred Chris Van Cleave’s Judge Turpin over Alan Rickman’s (and I love me some Rickman, so that’s saying something), and Beadle (Chris Sizemore) repeatedly cracked me up with his falsetto shenanigans. Saving the best for last, Johanna (Erin Driscoll) was absolutely lovely. Many of the notes she had to sing were incredibly high, but she nailed every one solidly and beautifully.

All in all, a wonderful show. Go see it if you can!

Laughing Stock

Reston Community Players present Laughing Stock: An amusing look at a New England summer stock barn theater. Gordon Page is in charge of this madcap group of theater stereotypes as they present Charley’s Aunt (as a bizarre performance art piece), Dracul: Prince of the Undead (written by Page and rife with technical difficulties), and Hamlet (which isn’t so bad, actually). The rehearsals were pretty funny, but my favorite part by far was Dracul: people running for their spotlights, missed cues, and general hilarity. I laughed so hard. Definitely one to see if you’re in the area.

When:
Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 PM: May 1, 2, 8, 9, 15, and 16, 2009.
Sunday Matinee at 2:30 PM: May 10, 2009.

Where:
CentreStage Theater
Reston Community Center
2310 Colts Neck Road
Reston, Virginia 20191

How Much:
Single ticket prices: $18 for adults, $15 for seniors and students

Check it out!

Laughing Stock

The Reston Community Players are at it again. Their next production is Laughing Stock, a comedy about community theatre. My dear husband is the sound guy, and if the effects he’s been concocting in his studio are any indication, this show is going to be an absolute riot. I’m very much looking forward to seeing it. If you happen to be in Northern Virginia, check it out. Tickets are $18 ($15 for seniors and students). Showtimes are 8:00 PM on May 1, 2, 8, 9, 15, and 16 (Fridays and Saturdays), and a Sunday matinee at 2:30 PM on May 10. All shows are in the CenterStage theater at the Reston Community Center. Enjoy!

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