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Teens channel 1970s, 1980s with ‘Xanadu’

Rossford club to perform hit musical based on cult movie


Tony Carlen, playing Sonny, pushes Stephanie Hiner, who plays Kira, during rehearsal for ‘Xanadu’ at Rossford High School. The audience will be encouraged to wear clothing from the 1970s and 80s to shows.

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The Rossford High School Drama Club’s spring musical, Xanadu, features a chalk artist in Venice Beach, Calif., Greek gods and muses, jokes, and popular songs such as “Have You Never Been Mellow,” “Strange Magic,” and “Evil Woman,” all set in 1980.

The musical comedy, adapted from the 1980 film of the same title, opened on Broadway in 2007 and won numerous awards, unlike the film, which gained a sort of cult status as a disastrous movie featuring two big stars: Gene Kelly and Olivia Newton-John.

The stage version, however, has a different history. A spoof of the movie, it ran for more than 500 performances on Broadway, then enjoyed great success with touring companies around the world.

“The movie was a bomb, but the soundtrack included several big hits,” said Ryan Mahaffey, the Rossford production’s assistant director.

The play runs April 10-13. Curtain time is 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $12 for adults and $10 for students.

Mr. Mahaffey said the 17 teenage cast members were getting an education in the culture of the 1970s and ’80s. “It’s been interesting trying to explain such things as disco,” he explained. “I remember that era as a kid, but to today’s teenagers, it’s ancient history.”

Audience members are encouraged to dress in clothes from that period, he said. Even leisure suits would be welcome — and leg warmers.

“Every night we’ll give a themed gift basket to the person with the best costume,” he said.

The Drama Club will have a reunion of alumni players immediately after the April 12 performance. It will be in the gym and include a 1980s dance with a disc jockey, food, and a photo booth.

Xanadu tells the unlikely story of the beautiful muse Kira, who leaves Mount Olympus, home of the Greek gods, for 1980 Venice Beach, southern California’s top visitor attraction drawing all manner of hip people — from bodybuilders and roller skaters to tattoo artists.

Kira’s mission is to inspire the artist Sonny Malone to produce a roller disco, and bring him out of his creative funk.

The dramatis personae include other Olympians, including Hera, the wife of Zeus and goddess of women and marriage. She is played by sophomore Kayla Kirkman, who sings “Have You Never Been Mellow.”

“I don’t have a huge part, but it’s fun,” the 16-year-old said. “I get to wear a gold-sequined, floor-length gown. I have to dance in it. I just hope I don’t get it caught on anything.”

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