Roller skates. Greek gods. Disco balls. Cheeky jokes. Fargo-Moorhead Community Theatre rolls out all of this and more in Xanadu, which opens Wednesday, July 11, and continues through Sunday, July 15, at The Stage at Island Park in Fargo.
Although the play is based on the cult-classic movie from 1980 starring Olivia Newton-John, the stage adaptation is “not quite the same thing,” says FMCT Artistic Director Adam Pankow with a smirk.
Rather, “Xanadu” is a tongue-in-cheek comedy that opened on Broadway in 2007 and pokes fun at “all of the stuff they were trying to be serious about in the movie,” Pankow says.
“That’s what makes this musical so delightful,” he adds. “It doesn’t take itself too seriously.”
Directed by North Dakota State University Associate Professor of Theatre Hardy Koenig, the story follows beautiful Greek muse Kira, who disguises herself as a feather-haired Australian mortal and travels to 1980s California to help struggling artist Sonny find creative inspiration.
With Kira’s guidance, Sonny decides to pursue his biggest artistic achievement to date and create the world’s first roller disco. He stumbles upon an abandoned theater coincidentally named “Xanadu” and tries to convince the building owner, Danny, to use the space to make his dream come true.
“And then the plot thickens,” says Koenig, who is directing at FMCT for the first time. “You’ll have to see what happens in the end.”
FMCT’s production features a dynamic cast, crew and live rock combo who ignite the stage with sharp vocal harmonies and roller-skate choreography to beloved hits like “Magic,” “Suddenly” and “Xanadu.”
The production also marks a renewed opportunity for adults to get involved in summer programming at FMCT, which has been geared solely toward youth in recent years.
Pankow says FMCT decided to expand its summer programming after the theater gained additional practice space in May at 6 Broadway N. in downtown Fargo.
With nine experienced cast members in “Xanadu,” most of the actors play multiple roles, which “adds to the craziness of it all,” Pankow says.
“This is a great show for summertime because it’s light and frivolous,” he adds. “I knew we could sink our teeth into it and have a good time with it.”
Although “Xanadu” is intentionally campy, Koenig says the play still has touching scenes that balance out the silliness and drive home the underlying themes of being truthful and accepting others who are different.
“(The audience) is going to laugh, but get much more out of it than they might expect,” he says. “I’m excited for it all to come together.”