When an actor hopes
to participate in a musical theater production, some necessary skills are a given. Singing. Dancing. Perhaps playing an instrument.
Roller skating is generally not at the top of the list. But it is necessary for most of the cast in "Xanadu," which Weathervane Playhouse used to open its 2013-14 season. "Xanadu," a musical spoof on the same-titled movie starring Olivia Newton-John, Gene Kelly and Michael Beck, opened Sept. 6.
"In another life, I was pretty decent [at skating]," said Rachel Balko, who plays the muse Clio and spends much of the production in roller skates. "But it wasn't like riding a bike. You don't pick it up again quickly. But it was fun."
Scott Miesse, who plays Sonny Malone, said the cast went to a local roller rink to practice their skills.
"We went to a rink in Springfield to get lessons, which was great," Miesse said.
In the play, Clio, a Greek muse, returns to 1980 Los Angeles to help Sonny, a dispirited artist, create his ultimate masterpiece: a disco skating rink and art gallery. Clio goes disguised as a mortal named Kira to help Sonny. She and her fellow muses helps Sonny convince jaded businessman Danny Maguire (played by Thomas Baumgardner) to convert one of his buildings into the rink. However, Clio's sister muse Melpomene (played by Kathy Ashcroft), with the help of Calliope, (played by Patrick Michael Dukeman) plots against Clio in hopes of taking charge of the muses herself. Melpomene knows that if Clio falls in love with a mortal, she will be condemned to die.
This is a very fun, colorful and silly show with several recognizable songs. Standouts include "Evil Woman" sung by Ashcroft and Dukeman, "Whenever You're Away From Me," by Baumgardner and Balko, and the ending cast number "Xanadu."
Those who haven't seen the movie can still find plenty of laughs in the stage show, but director Gwen Arment encourages people to see the movie if possible.
"I saw the musical first, then saw the movie," Arment said. "It made the play even funnier, to see what they were spoofing. The writers did a good job writing it."
Roller skating wasn't the only challenge for the cast, Miesse said.
"We are either on stage, or off stage getting changed to get right back on stage," he said.
Arment said that the musical's action "doesn't stop."
"Every one of those muses are dancing around," she said. "Everybody was very willing to try anything. It was a great cast."
Other members of the cast include Kevin Lambes, Isabella Post, Taylor Nichole Bryan and Brett Gregory Parr, who play muses and other roles. Hannah Conkle, Maddie Mazzola and Cindi Shama round out the cast as pit singers and roller skaters.
The play runs about 90 minutes, and is staged without intermission.
Ticket and show information
"Xanadu" can be seen through Sept. 22. Performances are Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m.
Tickets are $25. There are $21 tickets for seniors are available for Thursday and Sunday performances. Tickets for children ages 17 or younger and college students are $7.50 each at all performances. Ticket prices for on-stage seating range between $7.50 and $20.
For tickets, visit or call the Weathervane box office at 330-836-2626 during Box Office hours or visit www.weathervaneplayhouse.com.
Next on stage
The next show on Weathervane's main stage will be "Night Must Fall," which will run Oct. 10 through 27. In addition, "The Waverly Gallery," which will be staged in Weathervane's Dietz Theatre, will run Oct. 31 through Nov. 16.
Weathervane also will host its annual gala Sept. 28. The evening, which starts at 6 p.m., includes food, entertainment and a silent auction.