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Of course you can go to the theater for a think piece, a show that will leave you mulling your personal ethics and values for days afterward.

But sometimes you need an escape. And nothing’s more light and frothy than the musical fantasy “Xanadu.” You might remember the 1980 film starring everybody’s favorite peppy blond Australian, Olivia Newton-John. She and her cast mates laced up their roller skates and made a movie largely panned by critics everywhere. The film’s soundtrack, on the other hand, created a legion of fans and went double platinum. The song “Magic” by Newton-John hit No. 1 in the U.S., and the title track, “Xanadu,” by Newton-John and Electric Light Orchestra, hit No. 1 in the United Kingdom and other countries.

It was only a matter of time before the movie was turned into a Broadway musical. It opened in 2007 to much better reviews than its predecessor. Denver Center for the Performing Arts’ Cabaret will perform the show through April 28 in the Garner Galleria Theatre at the DCPA.

“This show is a real love letter to ‘80s movies that had a wonderful sense of innocence, generosity and a touch of camp,” said director and choreographer Joel Ferrell. “The writers clearly have a great affection for the movie, because it wasn’t a great film but it was great fun and such a prime example of the ‘pop culture’ aesthetic of the period.”

In “Xanadu,” an artist falls in love with a beautiful woman who inspires him to build a disco roller rink. Only later does he find out the woman is a Greek muse who incarnated on Earth to inspire men to achieve their dreams.

Kira, the muse, spends a disproportionate time on skates during the show, while Sonny, the artist, only has several numbers on wheels. The rest of the cast doesn’t skate until the finale. Cast members practiced their best roller moves with some help from experts well before rehearsals got off the ground.

Lauren Shealy, who stars as Kira, still has memories of Skate City, though her skating skills have long disappeared.

“Um, beginner,” she said about her skating level. “Things can go terribly wrong very quickly for me right now. The thought of a ramp fills me with abject terror. I have a long skate in front of me.”


Contact the writer: 636-0270

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