‘Xanadu’ enthusiastically mixes muses, and gods, and teens at George Mason High School


Pictured: Sophie DeLeo (John Abbracciamento)
November 26, 2012

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

Claire Seaton, a student at Washington-Lee High School  , reviews “Xanadu” performed by George Mason High School as part of The Cappies Critics and Awards Program .

A lone artist sketched a mural on a brick wall as the house lights dimmed, giving the audience a preview of what was to come in George Mason High School’s witty production of the cult classic musical Xanadu. 

Xanadu was written by Douglas Carter Beane, with music and lyrics by Jeff Lynch and John Farrar.  The musical follows the story of Clio, one of the nine muses of Greek mythology, who disguises herself as a mortal to help the struggling artist Sonny Malone.  Ancient Greece collides with eighties-style legwarmers and roller skates as Clio and Sonny begin to fall in love.

Rand Walter evoked roars of laughter from the audience with his performance as Sonny, nailing the deadpan one-liners and embracing the gangly nature of his character.  His impressive range stood out during solos and blended well with other singers, particularly that of Clio (played by Sophie DeLeo).  DeLeo sang with a clarity not often seen among high school students.  In addition to carrying an Australian accent throughout the majority of the show, DeLeo took the stage on a pair of roller skates, gracefully gliding in and out of every scene.  Alex Warren was another source of laughter as businessman Danny McGuire, who sang like Frank Sinatra and sported a sequined jacket like a regular disco king.  His younger counterpart, played by Joseph Warren, smoothly stole the stage in a burst of skilled tap-dancing.

The cast as a whole brimmed with energy that rose higher and higher as the show progressed, particularly in numbers such as “Xanadu” and “All Over the World.”  The addition of a centaur, a Cyclopes, and Medusa during a confrontation on Mount Olympus was a particularly witty touch.  The nine muses, in particular Calliope (played by Lilly Constance) and Melpemone (Kiki Skotte), were hilarious and energetic.  In addition, Vijay Menon evoked gales of sidesplitting laughter in the role of Hermes.

The student orchestra was truly professional, adding an undercurrent of sound effects and perfectly executing a well-rehearsed score.  The set (designed by Sarah Gompper) utilized three-sided spinning flats called periactoids to create different scenes from Mount Olympus to Venice Beach, California and everywhere in between.  The wide range of costumes, designed by Jessica Kemp, were well made and perfectly suited to each actor’s role.

The cast had distinct chemistry and blended well with each other in dance numbers and slapstick comedic timing.  Though a few actors lacked commitment, it was more than made up for by the cast’s energy that built to a climax and ended the show with a bang.  Audience members left George Mason’s auditorium reeling with laughter from this high school’s uproarious production of Xanadu.

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