Tonight is the night that Xanadu returns to San Diego. No, it’s not the fantastic stage musical that was here for two months last year. (That’s actually opening up tonight as well, but further up the road in Costa Mesa.) Tonight, it’s the Original Motion Picture version of Xanadu starring Olivia Newton-John and Gene Kelly that is playing here in San Diego.
The movie is notoriously known for being a bad movie, as it has a very loose plot, but despite the fact the movie bombed originally, it’s soundtrack was a massive hit for the record label. The collaboration between Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) and Olivia Newton-John (ONJ) on the title track, Xanadu has made the song one of Oliva’s biggest hits. Filling out the rest of the album are more fantastic songs by ELO and ONJ. Wisely, the songs weren’t put on the album in the order in which they appear in the movie, they were placed so that one side was the ELO side and the other side was the ONJ side. As the both acts draw different audiences, it made sure the fans of each artist could enjoy the work of their favorite if they weren’t as big a fan of the other.
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Last night I took the opportunity to check out the new stage version of Xanadu that is currently playing at the La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego. Technically I have a ticket for the show next week, but I got an offer in my e-mail to see the show earlier through Goldstar and at bargain price, so why not take a chance and go.
The seat I ended up with was an on-stage seat. Basically how the set is structured is that it looks a little like a Ancient Greek amphitheatre with a main performance area at the front of the stage and some tiered seating towards the back of the stage where additional audience members get seated and fill out the presence on stage. Sections of the on stage seating are left empty so that the cast members can sit and be part of the background and jump back into the show when appropriately timed. Additionally some props for them are stashed in the seating for use during the show as well.
Unlike regular seats, we had to be given a briefing on what we were expected to do which is basically have fun and stay seated until the orchestra plays its final note. There would be no chances for a bathroom break and if we had to leave, we could but would not be able to return to the stage seats. And we would not be issued our copies of the playbill until after the show. The show runs about ninety minutes so no problem there. We were also issued a glow stick and instructed that we would be told by the cast when it is time to break the glow stick to activate it and wave it around.
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