Xanadu, Jupiter & Hermes With False EylashesWednesday, June 27, 2012
I got a brand new pair of roller skates,
You got a brand new key.
I think that we should get together and try them out, to see ...
|Dean Paul Gibson|
A few months ago I ran into two people I knew at the airport. I was on my way to Austin; they were headed to an undisclosed location in Florida. She is a well known Vancouver based dramaturg. He is a well known actor/director. Since I know about the couple’s professionalism I suspected the trip had something to do with theatre. I was not to confirm this knowledge until my granddaughter Rebecca, 14 and I attended the opening performance of the Arts Club Theatre production of Xanadu (directed by Dean Paul Gibson) tonight at the Granville Island Stage.
I must confess here that I never saw the 1980 film with Olivia Newton-John which in spite of having Gene Kelly in the cast is considered to be a stinker. In 1980 I was a fan of punk. I was a groupie in the alternative music scene in Vancouver. I was on a first-name basis with Igor the Smilin’ Buddha’s doorman. I may be one of a handful of persons who ever saw Lincoln Clarke’s Fifty Per Cent Off band perform there.
The idea that anybody, iand especially in the case of the film director, Robert Greenwald would ever make a film in which the principal actors wear skates is something that to this Argentine-born blogger represents ample proof that Alejo Carpentier did not indeed invent magic realism. Some Dubuque, Iowa resident of Hollywood is probably to blame.
My experience with skates is one that shares parallel times with my black Raleigh, single speed bicycle. My skates needed a key to tighten the metal grips (in the front of the skates) that tended to ruin whatever pair of shoes I wore. It is because I am of the generation of the skate key that I was able to enjoy the performance (my first ever of watching a woman on stage wearing skates) of an ecdysiast, at the former Marble Arch Hotel, who complemented her pair of old-style skates with a chest that resembled the engine cowlings of a WWII B-24 Liberator bomber. She removed all of what she was wearing (but not the skates) to Melanie’s tune Brand New Key.
I went to tonight’s performance with trepidation. While straight I have always preferred male Australian tennis players to female Australian singers or even that male group that sang in that awful falsetto. But then I must reveal here that my favourite Greek god is Athena. She was the only snob in that olympic pantheon of idiots.
But tonight’s performance was so much fun (but did not change my mind that those hilarious Greek gods were all idiots) that I might just be tempted to rent the 1980 film on DVD.
From the opening of the musical I was busy (we were sitting at the second row, down there!) I became obsessed in trying to find out if Vincent Tong (as Thalia, one of the three graces goddess of festivity and banquets) and the beautifully made up (those eyes!) J. Cameron Barnett who played Terpsichore the siren of dance, were wearing any underwear under those short togas. I will not reveal my findings here.
From my vantage point at the second row (down there) I came to realize that some of the former pleasures of the Marble Arch's Brand New Key performance were in evidence here, as with the exception of the two muses mentioned above, the rest, Stephanie Liatopoulos (Erato), Bonnie Panych (Calliope), Caitlin Stadnyk (Euterpe) and Beatrice Zeilinger (Melpomene), and of course, too, Marlie Colins, who plays Kira, the Muse almost turned human and sporting a wonderfully fake Ausie accent, were out to prove that inflation has indeed affected Greece of late.
The musical was lots of fun, Marlie Collins and her soon to be beau, Gaelan Beatty (Sonny) were just right and they skated (even backwards), sang and produced lots of electricity. But I was most charmed by Simon Webb who played a crusty Zeus and Danny ,the rich real estate man (the Gene Kelly role in the film), and could not only dance to perfection but also sang to my satisfaction. My only recommendation is that he get clarinet playing lessons pronto from Dal Richards and perhaps stop wearing ties around his head.
Rebekka Sorensen, the Costume Designer, apparently had enough money for underwear (spoiler alert!) after she spent most of it in lavishly producing the most dazzling Hermes (not enough money for a Hermes handbag) and a most elegant Centaur. She must reveal to us what brand of false eyelashes her Centaur, Hermes and Terpsichore (J. Cameron Barnett) sported with such flickering abandon.
In a trend that I must applaud I must point out that every one of the musicals that I have seen in the last few year’s at different Arts Club Theatre venues, have had first rate musical ensembles. Tonight’s The Band included Bill Sample on keyboards, Laurence Mollerup on bass, Andreas Schuld on guitar and Randall Stoll on drums. That guitar was superb and even though the music was composed by Jeff Lynne & John Farrar there was some channeling of Lenny Kaye by Schuld. that compensated just right.
Why did I like this musical (and my granddaughter did too)? There is a simple answer. That man I ran into at the airport (I will not reveal the identity of the very elegant, dark haired female dramaturg who lives not far from the Stanley) was on his way for some consultation in Jupiter, Florida. A famous female lives in Jupiter and while she is Australian, I know she does not play tennis. The man must have received some very good advice (or perhaps in his intelligence he rejected it). The fact is that Xanadu plainly reminds me that one of the funniest actors in town is Dean Paul Gibson and he is transferring all that talent into direction. Our loss of Gibson as an actor is our gain of Gibson the director.
The two villains of this play, Bonnie Panych (Caliope) and Beatrice Zeilinger (Melpomene) are hilarious and almost ran away with this show. And if Cailin Stadnyk were to ever play Circe, I guarantee that Odysseus would break his bonds at the mast.