renaissance

Xanadu Revives Disco Fever

From left, Ella Wyatt, Jaime Pezold, Hannah Glass and Kim Dalton in “Xanadu,” in performances this weekend and next. Photos by Susan Kelly Johnson.

Dust off that leisure suit and pink polyester frock and hang a glittery globe. The disco era of “Saturday Night Fever” makes a sneak comeback at No Square Theatre’s latest production, the musical “Xanadu,” July 15-17 ,22 and 24.

Actors who weren’t even alive when John Travolta ignited the disco craze seem to have no trouble getting into the groove to bring the nostalgic romp to life.  The film version briefly boosted the career of Olivia Newton John whose rendition of “Magic” probably still rings in some ears. Others may remember gyrating, on rollerskates even, to “Dancin” or snuggling in beanbag chairs to “Have You Ever Been Mellow.”

“It’s just good, silly fun and perfect for our demographic,” said No Square artistic director Bree Burgess Rosen. “It’s not a kid’s show but has lots of music and the vocals are perfect.”

The flick may have flopped, but the Broadway musical “Xanadu,” first staged in 2007, became a hit. When Joe Lauderdale, the show’s director, first saw it during a visit to New York, he knew he had to bring it to life here.

Noah Plomgren, a Laguna Beach High grad and now a senior at Carnegie-Mellon University, celebrated his 21st birthday singing and skating during the July 9 opening, but skipped the expected blow-out party. “The show has a demanding score,” he said. “I am screaming my face off every night and my voice gets tired. I have to stay very disciplined and turn in early at night,” he said.

Plomgren plays Sonny Malone, a Venice Beach artist who is near suicide over his unsatisfactory sidewalk mural featuring the Greek muses, the daughters of Zeus. When said muses get wind of his plight, Clio (who’s the youngest) and her eight sisters descend from Olympus to help out.

 

Since they must never be recognized by, or Zeus forbid, become intimate with humans, Clio assumes the name Kira, dons rollerskates and legwarmers and adopts an Australian accent. Her crew is disguised in classic disco gear.  Despite their efforts, Sonny can’t fix his mural but he gets an idea to start a roller disco instead. “I switch between a Southern and a really bad Australian accent in the production,” said Kim Dalton, who performs as both characters. “But, I love doing broad accents,” says the USC theater major. Dalton, 21, grew up in Phoenix, and commutes nightly from Los Angeles to Laguna Beach. Move over Meryl.

No Square fans might remember Laguna Beach resident musician-actress Hannah Glass from the “Rocky Horror Show.” Here she plays multiple characters, Euterpe, a Siren, Thetis and a ’40’s singer.

The show has it all: music, dance, and a plot including boy meets/loses/gets back girl and plotting evil sisters getting their comeuppance in the end. It’s driven by humor and fun and features an energetic cast that quite literally rolls with the punches.

“I know how to rollerblade but rollerskating is a totally different thing. I practiced in my garage, but face it, it’s my least fabulous talent,” said Plomgren, a veteran of local productions, who is headed for New York after graduation.

Since 90 percent of her performance keeps her on skates, Dalton rolled to the challenge hiring a skating coach, she said. “This role has been a dream come true opportunity,” she said, adding that her parents will come to Laguna Beach from Arizona to see the show.

 

“Xanadu, The Musical,” 7:30 p.m. Tickets $22 online at www.nosquare.org $25 at the door. Legion Street.

 

The best disco outfit might win two tickets for this year’s “Lagunatics,” Oct.15-30.

 

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