Review by Alison Stoddart
In the refurbished Sutherland Arts Theatre, with its art deco ambiance, a wonderfully fluffy romp of a musical unfolded to the delight of the opening night crowd. The atmosphere was fun and expectant from the largely family and friends audience the moment the first note was sung. Xanadu the Musical was presented by Ikigai Entertainment, whose founder, Lacinda Fisk, was the lead role. Along with the strikingly Jim Carrey-like Kurt Russo, the duo played the romantic leads with charisma and charm and very good voices.
The show was based on the movie starring Olivia Newton John, a timely presentation as the opening weekend was also when the memorial for Newton John was held. All the famous songs were presented with Xanadu, I’m Alive and Evil Woman renditions warmly received. Only ‘Magic’, Olivia’s famous chart topping success, was a bit weak by Fisk as she negotiated roller skates and pirouettes while singing. That said, she is an engaging performer and I’m sure her performance will improve with each night.
The storyline of Xanadu is a meshing of roller disco, Greek mythology and 1940’s Hollywood musicals. Eight muses, the children of Zeus, are brought to earth chasing Kira, their head muse whose sole purpose is to inspire artist Sonny to realise his dream of a roller disco in a disused building managed by Danny (Alexander Morgan sporting a surprisingly beautiful voice).
The cast included Tanya Boyle and Sabrina Kirkham as the comic relief in the form of the evil muses who try to bring down Kira. Their inane giggling soon became infectious, and their physical theatricality was highly amusing. In fact all the cast were very appealing and fun. They adapted to minor hitches and were professional in the way they laughed off a misplaced coat donning.
Every single cast member brought their own quality to the show, all being equally professional, and after probably a nervous start, they settled into their roles and enjoyed themselves. They even poked fun at themselves with a pertinent comment about ‘double casting’.
There were guest appearances from cherubs and Pegasus winged horses and the entrance of a centaur was very funny.
The show also had aspects of metatheatre, with a commentary on itself, a the breaking of the ‘fourth wall’, very Shakespeare -like.
The lighting was clear but had a tendency to shine right into the audience at times, making them raise hands and arm to shield the glare. The choreography, while strong in the whole ensemble performances, was lacking that extra oomph with some individual performances, that could have elevated the show.
The success of the show was also attributed to the standout expertise of the live band down under the stage in the orchestra pit. These four musicians (two keyboards, drums and guitar) were outstanding in providing the music.
These suburban Sydney theatrical productions are extremely polished and professional. Hats off to Ikigai Entertainment for a thoroughly entertaining performance as their first foray.
And the world’s biggest earworm (Xanadu) will not doubt follow all audience members home at the end of the night.