Thursday, June 28, 2012

Slow Burn Theatre: Xanadu (4 reviews)

.Slow Burn Theatre opened its production of Xanadu: The Musical on June 22, 2012.
As the song states “A place where nobody dared to go….” is right up our alley. We are proud to present the South Florida premier of “Xanadu ” This surprise Broadway smash hit won over even the toughest critics and theatre goers. XANADU follows the journey of a magical and beautiful Greek muse, Kira, who descends from the heavens of Mt. Olympus to Venice Beach, California in 1980 on a quest to inspire a struggling artist, Sonny, to achieve the greatest artistic creation of all time – the first ROLLER DISCO!. This hilarious musical adventure includes the hit songs “Magic”, “Suddenly”, and of course “Xanadu”. This tale of endless fun will keep you in stitches, while the legendary chart-topping tunes will lift you out of your seat. You’ll want to keep the music in your head, and XANADU in your heart, forever.
Patrick Fitzwater directed a cast that included Lindsey Forgey, Rick Pena, Larry Buzzeo, Lisa Kerstin Braun, Jerel Brown, Kristina Johnson, Conor Walton, Renata Eastlick, and Mary Gundlach, .

Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
To be truthful, this is not among Slow Burn’s best work. The company was far funnier, crisper and engaging in Urinetown earlier this year, another spoofy satire. This is more the ragged romp you might find at a theater summer camp for some really talented kids. But it would take a congenital curmudgeon not to acknowledge that the company is having so much fun – and working pretty hard to entertain – that their enthusiasm is incurably infectious.
Fitzwater and Beane’s style of choice is at least two levels above over-the-top. The book is intentionally clichéd and clunky to make fun of the shortcomings of clichéd and clunky books, such as ham-handedly troweling on implausible exposition.
The cast is headed by Slow Burn’s regular leading lady, Lindsey Forgey, wearing a wig of flowing blond curls. Forgey is a lovely woman with a strong voice, but she is as visually as far from the waifish Newton-John or Broadway’s Kerry Butler as you can get. Being a comedienne, she revels in that.
Rick Pena... has that earnestness that delivers the humor in lines like “You make me feel so incredible, I feel I can go into downtown L.A. without a weapon!”
Larry Buzzeo... recreates one his urbane world-weary George Sanders characters as the owner of the dilapidated club and one of Clio’s amorous conquests on a visit during the 1940s.
If most of the show lacks electricity, the amperage suddenly shoots off the meter with every appearance of Renata Eastlick as one of two malicious Muses trying to sabotage Clio. Tall, gorgeous, sexy and full-voiced, she rips out songs like “Evil Woman” with enough topspin to melt the varnish off a billiard ball, especially when she’s partnered with fellow Muse Mary Gundlach, who was superb as the Witch in Slow Burn’s recent Into The Woods.
Hap Erstein reviewed for Palm Beach Arts Paper: companies such as West Boca’s Slow Burn that specialize in offbeat musicals have been reviving Xanadu with audience-pleasing success. Slow Burn tends towards shows of more substance -- like Kiss of the Spider Woman or Assassins -- but it is reassuring to know that director-choreographer Patrick Fitzwater and his company are also comfortable trafficking in sheer silliness.
...Slow Burn continues to impress with its ability to pull off musicals that should be beyond its physical and talent pool resources.
As Clio, Slow Burn’s go-to leading lady Lindsey Forgey (Blood Brothers, Urinetown) again displays a natural comic flair, adapting to her wind-swept Aussie alter ego Kira, mangling the accent and negotiating the set’s treacherous ramps on her roller skates. Rick Pena is aptly ditsy as her love interest Sonny and Larry Buzzeo finesses his way as Danny, the Gene Kelly role in the movie, the free spirit-turned-real-estate-magnate who was transfixed by Clio in his youth.
John Thomason reviewed for the Broward/Palm Beach New Times:
The Broadway show began touring in 2008, but no South Florida concert halls would touch it with a ten-foot Greek pillar. Luckily, West Boca's Slow Burn Theatre has taken up the cause, producing a colorful, fun, and intelligently cast rendition of this brazenly insubstantial comedy.
There is not a dud among the local nine-member cast, led by Lindsey Forgey as the bubbly Clio and Rick Pena as the single-celled Sonny. Larry Buzzeo is dapper as always in the role of Danny Maguire, a real estate mogul who strikes a deal with Sonny to convert his abandoned theater into the Xanadu roller disco (believe me, I feel just as silly typing this as you do reading it). Conor Walton and Jerel Brown earn a lot of laughs as the two male "sisters" — another one of Beane's theatrical revisions — but it's Renata Eastlick and Mary Gundlach, as the evil muses, who stand out most among their castmates. The big-haired Eastlick is bold and loud, oppressive and expressive in the way villains were in old Disney fairy tales, albeit with the necessary comic self-awareness. Gundlach plays in a lower key, but her Kristen Wiig-ish facial expressions and deadpan delivery are no less on-target.
If this version of Xanadu doesn't always reach the high levels of hilarity for which it aims, it certainly hits enough of them, and I can't imagine a regional theater presenting a stronger production on a budget this lean. In a ludicrous show where sloppiness is forgivable — if not ingrained in the source material's DNA — this Xanadu skates along at a winning pace.
Eileen Speigler wrote for The Miami Herald:
If Xanadu, the much-maligned 1980 film, still hangs in your memory like one of the era’s ubiquitous disco balls, roll on over to West Boca and catch Slow Burn Theatre’s production.
And after a few wobbles at the start, the entire cast does a great job of belting out the songs penned by Jeff Lynne, of ELO fame — if you’re of a certain age, hearing Evil Woman and Have To Believe We Are Magic draws a twinge of nostalgia. Not to mention a little swing and some impressive, jump-on-the-desk tap dancing.
...two of the older muses... Calliope (Mary Gundlach) and especially Melpomene (Renata Eastlick) are wicked good, and threaten to not only tear asunder but upstage the star-crossed lovers...
Artistic directors Patrick Fitzwater and Matthew Korinko get the tone and energy of what makes the play so infectious where the movie failed spectacularly. It’s in on the joke and winks at itself, but not in a smug or savage way — although there are a few zingers.
Slow Burn Theatre ends its limited run of Xanadu The Musical on July 1, 2012.

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