By Jake Mulick
A small cast of passionate students performed the pop rock musical adaptation of the 1980 film, “Xanadu,” which details the adventure of a young California native trying to find his purpose as an artist. TCNJ Musical Theatre put on the performance in the Don Evans Black Box Theatre from Tuesday, March 1, to Saturday, March 5.
The main character of the show, Sonny, is persuaded by the Greek muses to work hard and attempt to create his artistic magnum opus — a roller disco. On his journey, he changes the life of somebody who was once like him, but now only cares about personal wealth. There is also a love story between Sonny and one of the muses, Kira.
Students performed 15 songs throughout the musical, many paying homage to, as well as satirizing, the film that stars Michael Beck and Olivia Newton-John.
Kyle Elphick, a freshman history major who has been performing since elementary school, played the jaded businessman Danny Maguire.
“Performing (in) ‘Xanadu’ is an exhilarating experience,” Elphick said. “The show is a high-energy and humorous piece that requires the commitment and cooperation of everyone on stage. Every member of this cast is a major part of making this musical what it is.”
All 10 people on cast were extremely dedicated to their roles and it was clear in their performances. Multiple musical numbers involved most, if not all, members of the show and require intense and precise dancing. Some of the scenes even required cast members to rollerblade around the stage, something that is no simple feat.
Izabella Sandoval, a sophomore English major, had the lead role in the production as Clio/Kira.
“Although the process leading up to the show was an immense amount of fun, it definitely required a great amount of focus and hard work,” Sandoval said. “My experience in ‘Xanadu’ has only opened my eyes even more to the amount of time and work that goes into creating any kind of production. I have most definitely learned a lot from my own struggles with this production, whether that be roller skating, putting on an Australian accent, simply remembering my entrances and exits, as well as from the talented people I was blessed with the chance to work with.”
Something that makes this rendition of “Xanadu” particularly special is that many of the students in the show have been performing for most of their lives.
“I would have to say that ‘Xanadu’ has been an experience like no other,” Sandoval said. “I have been a part of countless productions since my freshman year of high school, yet this production has to be the most unique. The amount of time that was put in every single aspect of this show is profound, whether on stage or behind the scenes, everything required such diligent time and planning.”
What gets the performers through the process of putting together a show is the love of their craft.
Steven Munoz, a senior English and secondary education dual major, played the character of troubled artist Sonny and truly loved taking on this new role.
“‘Xanadu’ is one of my favorite musicals because of how it makes fun of other musicals and the conventions of musical theatre,” Munoz said. “The whole show just pokes fun at the genre while being really campy and wild, and it’s been a great time to work on. Seeing and hearing the audience engage in the humor and play along with the whimsy is awesome and I’m glad we were able to bring an hour and a half of pure fun to the people who came out to see it.”