Vail Performing Arts Academy’s musical stage adaptation of ‘Xanadu’ plays at the Vilar
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What: “Xanadu Jr.,” presented by Vail Performing Arts Academy
When: 6:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 5; 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 6.
Where: Vilar Performing Arts Center, 68 Avondale Lane, Beaver Creek.
BEAVER CREEK — Can a group of kid performers properly and hilariously lampoon an outrageously bad 1980s movie about an artist and his muse who find love in a Los Angeles roller disco?
Why yes, they can, and we’re glad you asked.
The Vail Performing Arts Academy is presenting “Xanadu Jr.,” the hilarious comedic stage adaptation, not the howlingly bad movie.
That’s an important distinction, because even the strident and humorless New York Times called the stage play an “outlandishly enjoyable stage spoof.”
The “outrageously bad movie” killed Olivia Newton-John’s budding movie career, and might have killed Hollywood legend Gene Kelly outright. It was his last cinematic dance, which is completely unfair. The medical examiner did not list the movie’s unbridled awfulness as the cause of death, but you never really know.
But at least he went out smiling, and dancing with Newton-John, who’s so adorable that your dad probably has an LP record in his album collection with her on the cover. Dad gets bonus points if the plastic wrap is still on it.
“Just go with it”
Occasionally, someone will insist that theater — mispronounced by these misguided souls as “theatah” — should Mean Something Meaningful.
“Xanadu Jr.” doesn’t. It’s funny. In fact, it’s hilarious.
“People are in for a great time. Just go with it,” the VPAA’s Colin Meiring said.
You’ll recognize all the songs, and it’s OK to sing along. Pretend you’re Mick Jagger and you’ll do fine, because Jagger can’t sing a lick either but still managed to make a pretty good living at it.
“They hyped up the comedy and the kids naturally ham it up, so it’s a perfect summer presentation,” Meiring said.
Rachel Keith is helping create the choreography. She has been part of Vail Performing Arts Academy since she was 12 years old.
She graduated Vail Christian High School in the spring, and Meiring asked her to work this summer to help design the choreography.
Her parents, who love her, did not make her watch the movie. Her uncle did, although they heckled it the entire time. Everyone should come under the occasional influence of a renegade uncle.
The stage adaption, especially VPAA’s stage adaptation, is laugh-out-loud funny.
“It’s perfect for these kids,” Keith said.
The cast is 50 young performers, all younger than 16.
“They’re younger, but almost all of them have all done this before. We lucked out with the group of kids we have,” Keith said. “It’s a chance for the younger kids to show us and the valley what they can do.”
Performing with them is one thing, but choreographing them is a different animal, Keith said.
“It’s awesome to see the love I have for theater come alive in the younger kids,” Keith said.
Rehearsals run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Thursday, with some Friday time thrown in for good measure, which keeps the youngsters away from video games.
“It’s like school in the summer, but the fun part of school,” Keith said.
Harry Jaffe plays Danny in the VPAA version. He’s transformed into a real estate mogul who may be running for political office and who may or may not resemble someone prominent on the current political scene.
Chris Anthony’s documentary film project chronicles post-war activities of the 10th Mountain Division.