"Xanadu" at OnStage Playhouse in Chula Vista. Photo by Adriana Zuniga-Williams
The 1980 film “Xanadu” was flat-out bad. It even inspired the snarky Razzies Awards. On the other hand, the 2007 Broadway musical version, a self-parodying 90 minutes of anything-goes silliness, is fun with a capital F. OnStage Playhouse in Chula Vista has opened its 2018-’19 season with a completely entertaining production of Xanadu, with its artistic director, Teri Brown, at the helm. In spite of some noticeable sound problems on opening night – hopefully fixed by now -- this good-natured staging of the show by Douglas Carter Beane, John Farrar and Jeff Lynne (of Electric Light Orchestra fame) amuses with its snide satirizing of Greek mythology, L.A. at its most laid back, and Broadway itself. Moreover, it might actually make you nostalgic for Olivia Newton-John, the star of the film whose “Magic” and “Have You Never Been Mellow” are among this stage adaptation’s tunes.
Another Olivia, Olivia Berger, stars in OnStage’s Xanadu as the comely muse brought to life who falls in love with an artistic minded slacker boy (Joshua Tyler Powers). No one in the talented cast, especially the other muses, takes the story very seriously – nor should they. Everyone’s simply in the what-the-hell? spirit of this shamelessly silly romp, and the house band performing in the wings never misses a beat. (Review originally published in San Diego CityBeat on 7/25/18.)
David L. Coddon is theater critic for San Diego CityBeat