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Toby’s Dinner Theatre Xanadu

By • Jul 5th, 2011 • Category: Reviews
Xanadu
Toby’s Dinner Theatre
Toby’s Dinner Theatre-Baltimore, MD
Through September 4th
1:45 with intermission
$49.50-$53.50/$35.50 Children
Reviewed June 30th, 2011

What is the only thing you can do with an absolute flop of a movie that has an incredible musical score? Turn it into a stage musical that uses the same score in order to mock the completely cheesy, unbelievableness of the original film. For the first five to ten minutes, it was hard to determine what to make of Toby’s Dinner Theatre’s production of Xanadu, because it was so intentionally bad. However, by ten minutes into the production, the intention of the script and the actors became clear, and the result was sheer magic. The gifted comedic performances left the audience in stitches for most of the fast-moving musical farce. This production is a definite must-see.

Heather Marie Beck (Kara/Clio) is just delightful. She is a triple threat (really quadruple threat if you count the roller-skating) who brings constant energy and spunk to the character and was able to expertly walk the careful balance between real heart and the necessary caricatured comedy. Greg Twomey (Sonny) made a very strong counterpart by matching her energy and finding a way to make his not-so-bright character extremely lovable. The pair also sounded beautiful on their vocals, both solo and duet. David Bosley-Reynolds (Danny) gave the most real of the performances and really gave the show a grounded, emotional center on which to rotate.

Ashley Parker (Melpomene) was deliciously wicked, and Tierra Strickland (Calliope) had an amazing gift with facial expressions. The scenes with the two women really sparkled with a combination of humor and strength. The other four sister muses (Chris Rudy, Katie Heidebreder, Crystal Freeman, and David Gregory) were all equally wonderful, and each had several moments to show off their own unique brand of humor and their amazing voices. The small cast had the power of a huge chorus and really brought the room to life with each number.

The set, lighting, costumes, and props were all consistent with the vision. They were beautiful and just slightly over-the-top. The direction and choreography were excellent in keeping the high-energy camp rolling with just enough real moments to keep the musical from being complete nonsense.

This is the Mid-Atlantic premiere of this incredibly hysterical script, and everyone should check it out. It is one of the funniest new shows to come to town, and this production team and cast does it amazing justice.

The role of Melpomene was played by Ashley Parker in this performance.

A Word from the Director

When I first heard that Xanadu the Musical was opening on Broadway, my first thought was – are they kidding? One of the worst movies of all time being produced for the theatre? Granted I was one of many who flocked to see the film on its opening weekend, and quickly realized that despite the charms of Olivia Newton John and Gene Kelly, this was a landmark failure. The score featuring songs by John Farrar and Jeff Lynne was remarkable and several hit songs managed to thrive on the radio for a year after the film disappeared. All of this didn’t keep me from seeing the Broadway show two weeks after it began previews. To my surprise what I witnessed was a miraculous transformation that held on to the basic story line, but added elements of traditional Greek Theatre, Vaudeville, Burlesque and good ole Musical Comedy. The production ran for more than 600 performances and garnered several Tony Award nominations including Best Musical – so they obviously got it right! To the cast, creative team and crew you are all the best. To Vickie and Larry thanks for your support and finally to Toby – thanks for the opportunity.

Enjoy the show! Daniel

Cast

  • Kara (Clio): Heather Marie Beck
  • Sonny Malone: Greg Twomey
  • Danny Maguire (Zeus): David Bosley-Reynolds
  • Calliope (Aphrodite): Tierra Strickland
  • Melpomene (Medusa): Maria Egler
  • Thalia (Siren, Tubes Singer, Cyclops): Chris Rudy
  • Euterpe (Siren, Andrews Sister, Thetis): Katie Heidebreder
  • Erato (Siren, Andrews Sister, Hera): Crystal Freeman
  • Terpsicore (Siren, Tubes Singer, Hermes, Centaur): David Gregory
  • Pit Singer: Celia Blitzer
  • Specialty Skater/Young Danny: Jimmy Biernatowski
  • Understudies: Katie Heidebreder (Kira), David Gregory (Sonny), Daniel McDonald (Danny Maguire), Jason Phillips (Thalia & Terpsicore), Celia Blitzer (Euterpe & Erato), Ashley Parker (Calliope & Melpomene), Janine Sunday (Pit Singer), Laurie Newton (Specialty Skater)

Production Staff

  • Director: Daniel McDonald
  • Musical Director: Cedric D. Lyles
  • Choreographer: Laurie Newton
  • Scenic Designer: David A. Hopkins
  • Costume Designer: Janine Sunday
  • Lighting Designer: Joey Wallen
  • Sound Designer: Corey Brown
  • Specialty Skating Instructor: Lawrence B. Munsey
  • Synthesizer Programming: Pam Wilt
  • Production Manager: Vickie S. Johnson
  • Production Stage Manager: Danny Clemens
  • Master Electrician: Jimmy Engelkemier
  • Master Carpenter: Jason Krznarich
  • Set Construction: David A. Hopkins, Corey Brown, Russell Sunday, Jason Krznarich
  • Properties: Amy Kaplan
  • Costume Assistants: Della Lotman, Samn Huffer
  • Light Board Operators: Kelly Martin, Jeanie McAlpine
  • Sound Operators: Corey Brown, Jeanie McAlpine
  • Stage Manager: Danny Clemens

The Orchestra

  • Conductor/Keyboards: Cedric Lyles, Brant Challacombe
  • 2nd Keyboard: Pam Whit, Brant Challacombe
  • Drums/Percussion: Tom Harold
  • Guitar: Jason Wise

Disclaimer: Toby’s Dinner Theatre provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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has been involved in theatre in the state of Maryland and DC for most of her life. She has acted, directed, choreographed, stage managed, and held a million other odd jobs. She has a B.S. in English from Towson University, and is currently pursuing her Master's Degree to become a Reading Specialist. She is a Maryland State Certified English, Theatre, Elementary, and Mathematics Educator. After teaching English and Drama for many years, she now teaches 6th grade Language Arts at Magnolia Middle School in Harford County, Maryland. She wrote the curriculum currently used in Prince George’s County Public Schools for Drama I and Drama II. She now writes and directs plays and musicals for use in church.

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