Opening Nights: Xanadu


Village Theatre, 303 Front St. N. (Issaquah), 392-2202, $30–$65. Runs Wed.–Sun. Ends Oct. 20; then moves to Everett Oct. 25–Nov. 17.

If it’s true that the music you listen to when you’re 20 is the music you’ll listen to the rest of your life, then I’ve been stricken with the Curse of 1983. Which means that the Xanadu soundtrack, with symph-pop songs by ELO’s Jeff Lynne and some fun swing pastiche by Olivia Newton-John’s court composer John Farrar, is irresistible catnip—both in its original 1980 film version and in the spoofy stage camp-fest made out of it in 2007. (Go ahead, laugh, but someday someone is going to do this to Can’t Stop the Music.)

Fun as the music is, what makes Village Theatre’s fine production really spring to life are the two perfect leads. Dane Stokinger plays Sonny Malone, Venice Beach’s resident chalk artist/bandanna’d lunkhead/roller-disco visionary. Like, for instance, Brendan Fraser, Stokinger is more adorable the dimmer he gets. Kira, the muse who descends to Earth to inspire him, is played by Jessica Skerritt, aglow with charisma—one of those actresses who make you dream of roles you’d love to see her in: Cunegonde in Candide; Desirée Armfeldt in A Little Night Music, in about 20 years . . . sigh. (I won’t insult her with the obvious observation that she’s a better actress than Newton-John; so am I; so are you.) As if that weren’t enough, she’s effortlessly hilarious throughout, especially her preposterous Australian accent—well, let’s let her demonstrate it herself, with help from the Coleridge poem the title is taken from: In Xanadu did Kubla Khan a stitely plezha dime decree . . . 

Just as comedically skilled are two of Kira’s fellow demigoddesses, Lisa Estridge as Melpomene, Muse of Sass, and Christine Riippi as Calliope, Muse of Nerdiness. The show’s pacing seems to be under the influence of a slight mellow stoner haze—a bit of an anachronism, but not to worry; if the performance were fueled by the archetypal drug of the ’80s rather than the ’70s, it’d come in 45 minutes shorter.

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