What happens when you combine Mt. Olympus, 80’s outfits, and chalk murals? SOU Theatre presents “Xanadu,” a musical about art, inspiration, and ridiculousness—all on roller skates. The neon-colored-plot follows Sonny (played by Aidan Jenkins), a struggling artist whose inspiration is running low until he meets Kira (played by Corrine Maddox)—or, Kleio, a Greek muse who disguises herself as a human. Throughout the show, Kira gives Sonny more and more reason to believe in himself and his art. Most importantly: to follow his dreams.
“Xanadu” has 12 actors who are on roller skates throughout the entirety of the show. This has been one of SOU’s most difficult shows to pull off due to the athleticism needed while also focusing on music, acting, and choreography. Jenkins and Maddox both have spent hours outside of rehearsals just practicing on the skates.
“We’ve had a few people really bite it,” Maddox says. “The first rehearsal with the skates, I was really shaky. It was intimidating. But, now, I barely have to think about it at all.”
“Musical theatre is already tricky,” says Jenkins. “Roller skating kind of adds a whole other element on top of singing, dancing, and acting. It’s hard.” Both lead actors expressed their gratitude for Mary Ellen McGinnis, the assistant director for the show, who already knew some tricks in roller skating; she assisted in teaching all of the actors how to feel confident and comfortable in skates. From skating workshops to TikTok tutorials, the “Xanadu” actors put in the hours to polish their skills to put on a fantastic, colorful, and ridiculous show.
Lauren Blair, the director of “Xanadu,” insists on everyone helping each other out. During rehearsals, if someone falls, everyone pauses and checks in before moving along. This is one of the things that Jenkins takes to heart.
“I love my cast,” he says. “The community is great and everyone gets along. Lots of inside jokes going on. It’s fun. We’re all goofballs and Lauren just finds it so endearing.”
“I am always laughing,” Maddox says. “It’s such a good time, all the time.”
With roller skating being the top challenge for most of the actors, the music itself for others was the biggest challenge. For Jenkins, the show is mostly in the tenor range in regards to male voices—SOU doesn’t have many tenors in theatre. So, he’s been working with a vocal coach from the music department, learning how to sing higher than he’s used to. Maddox, however, adores the musical aspect of the rehearsal process. Having always had a passion for musical theatre, some of her favorite moments were in the music room with the music director. Both Jenkins and Maddox have worked hard and are confident in their singing and their roller skating.
Both actors are excited for the audience to come see the feel-good show. Opposed to previous productions, “Xanadu” is light-hearted and wacky, packed with music and disco, and will be giving the audience a glimpse into what it was like in the 80’s (and what it’s like when a Greek muse appears out of thin air—on roller skates!). The show opens Thursday, February 15th and runs through Sunday, February 25th with both evening and matinee performances. For a full list of performance dates go to https://oca.sou.edu/events
Tickets are available online at https://sou.universitytickets.com or in person at the OCA Box Office Monday-Friday from noon-6pm and one hour prior to performances. SOU faculty, staff, and students get two free tickets by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with show requests. Seating is limited and ON the SOU Main Stage Theatre. Get your tickets while they last. Talk backs after shows on Feb. 22, 23 and 24th with the actors and director will also be offered. For VIP or reserved ADA seating requests, please contact the OCA Box Office at 541-552-6348.
Story by Sierra Jameson, OCA at SOU Staff Writer