The ‘80’s combination of disco, Greek mythology provide spirit, sassy spunk in South Lakes’ engaging ‘Xanadu’


Ben Peter, Michelle Slivinski, Natalie Pernick, and Helen Slivinski (Michelle Slivinski)
June 3, 2013

All reviews are written by Cappies student critics and edited by Cappies adult mentors prior to publishing.

Polina Tamarina, a student at McLean High School , reviews ‘Xanadu’ performed by South Lakes High School as a part of the Cappies Critics and Awards Program.

What happens when a mellow Californian artist lacking inspiration meets a roller-skating Greek muse sporting flowing blonde locks and an Australian accent? Nothing short of Zeus’ most coveted gift: “Xanadu”! South Lakes High School gives new life to this disco-tecular, a-musing movie-turned-musical.

The muses took their time granting the inspiration for the stage version of Xanadu, a show inspired by an 80s movie of the same name, inspired by a 40s film called “Down To Earth.” “Xanadu” the musical opened on Broadway in 2007 with book by Douglas Carter Beane and music and lyrics by Jeff Lynne and John Farrar. This mirthfully over-the-top, satirically self-aware comedy tells the story of Greek muse Clio, descended from Mt. Olympus in the hopes of inspiring great work and, in turn, obtaining Zeus’ mysterious gift of Xanadu. But when Clio, disguising herself as Kira from down under, begins to fall in love with street artist Sonny Malone, she risks putting her goals in danger of “eternal damnation!” Through song, dance, skating and disco, South Lakes spins a delightfully entertaining tale of the true meaning of the human condition.

Heading off the cast, Natalie Pernick brought charm and an admirable voice to the role of Clio, aptly changing between accents and gliding gracefully around the stage in skates and hot pink leg warmers. Ben Peter’s Sonny Malone provided for righteous chemistry with Pernick, embodying the chill mentality of the quintessential Californian dude while moving the audience with his emotional performance of “Don’t Walk Away.”

Other notable performances included Mitchell Parker as Danny, tempering the harsh demeanor of a businessman with moments of vulnerability augmented with tap dancing. The evil sisters Melpomene and Calliope, played by actual sisters Michelle and Helen Slivinsky, possessed impressive comedic timing and entertained the audience with their evil bouts of cackling as they plotted to de-throne their sister Clio as leader of the muses. Jacob Kemp as the Centaur portrayed a medley of horse and human with calculated subtlety, snorting and pawing at the ground with equine poise. Megan Desisti rocked the stage with her bold, sassy dancing, standing out of the already energetic and vibrant ensemble of muses.

Technical elements of the show added to the 80s disco feel of the production with an abundance of twinkling lights (Thomas Cusimano) during big roller skating numbers, disco balls descending from the heavens, and a flashing Xanadu sign (Michelle Slivinksi). The Xanaband pit orchestra displayed impressive musical skill and flexibility in accommodating for minor cast errors. Costumes (Michelle Slivinksi) maintained the Technicolor look of the show while distinguishing the mortals from the muses, with the latter sporting long flowing tunics. Makeup (Kenzy Forman, Michelle Slivinski) admirably augmented the color pallet of the show with matching eye shadow and manicures.

While the marriage of Ancient Greek mythology, roller-skating, and 80s disco may be a daunting prospect for some, South Lakes presented this lovably compelling comedy with spirit and spunk, gracing the audience with the gift of “Xanadu”.

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