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Marco Robinson and Lauren Shealy in Xanadu.
Marco Robinson and Lauren Shealy in Xanadu.
Emily Lozow

Reviewed: Xanadu Runs Through April

Xanadu. In this musical (based on a bad movie of the same name), Sonny, an idealistic young artist in Los Angeles, hates his own work, suffers severe doubts about his talent and is suicidal until he’s visited by the muse Clio. She appears to be Australian and glides around on roller skates. Together they decide to create a place where all the arts can meet, a roller disco featuring music, dance, painting, movies and poetry. But there’s a glitch: Clio has two jealous sisters, fellow muses Calliope and Melpomene, and they’re determined to bring about her downfall. Which shouldn’t be too hard: Muses are forbidden to dabble in the arts and also prohibited from falling in love with human beings, and from Sonny and Clio’s first meeting, it's clear that she’ll rapidly violate both these rules, piss off her father, Zeus, and end up banished to the underworld. The script is silly but stylish, and the performers superb. Lauren Shealy, who plays Clio, is a local treasure. She has a fine, supple singing voice, is funny as hell, and turns out to be graceful even on roller skates. In short shorts and a tank top, Marco Robinson as Sonny shows off biceps, triceps and lats, as well as leg muscles we didn't known existed. Sarah Rex gets to exercise all her comic chops as Calliope, and they’re impressive. We last saw Sheryl McCallum, now playing Melpomene, as a dignified Aunt Eller in the Denver Center’s radiantly successful Oklahoma!; she’s not the least bit dignified here as she identifies herself with full-throated malice as an “Evil Woman.” Aaron Vega, who plays Danny, owner of the rundown building that Sonny and Clio want to convert into Xanadu, is a seriously talented comic with a seriously impressive baritone. Put these performers to a silly but stylish script, and what ensues is one of the most amusing evenings you can ever hope to enjoy: satirical, clever-stupid, light as air, pointless and at the same time pure comic gold. Presented by the Denver Center for the Performing Arts Cabaret through April 28 at the Garner Galleria Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 303-893-4100, denvercenter.org. Read the full review of Xanadu.

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