Open Forum

Xanadu Jr

  • 1.  Xanadu Jr

    Posted 08-09-2018 18:23
    Hi! Wondering if anyone has produced Xanadu Jr with their middle school performers and had any feedback on show...seems a bit of fluff but good fun and possible curricular connections with Greek History / Mythology, as well as a point of entry into conversation about depression/suicide - or is that a stretch?
    Thanks for any insights!

    Renee Penegor
    Lafayette CA

  • 2.  RE: Xanadu Jr

    Posted 08-10-2018 09:55
    Hey Renee!

    I produced it about 2 years ago with a group of middle schoolers and had a blast. I love this show! (I saw it 3 times on Broadway).

    Now, I did it at a theatre company and not with my school students, and I did the traditional Broadway casting with only 11 students and they all doubled and tripled on parts. However it would be very easy to do it in a school setting with a much larger cast.

    You can definitely tie in to greek mythology, and I think an intro to depression and suicide would work great at that age level. I would, however, also introduce the idea of spoof and camp. Xanadu is a spoof of the original (and critically panned) movie from the 80's, so the students need to understand how to make fun of the material while still performing honestly. You may be able to find an appropriate Mel Brooks clip and talk about how he spoofs classics (Frankenstein, Robin Hood, etc).

    Let me know if you have any other questions!

    Derek Pickens
    Cario Middle School
    Mount Pleasant, SC

  • 3.  RE: Xanadu Jr

    Posted 08-15-2018 14:47
    I have done this show as the full version and the Jr. version and it is a blast. If you can get permission to put them on quad skates for the roller disco feel at the end, it's like icing on the cake. The "suicide" attempt at the beginning of the show is so campy and tongue in cheek that I think it would be a bit of a stretch, but we can't be too careful these days, I guess. Since the show is a parody of the movie "classic" and pokes fun of it the whole way through, it's a real audience favorite. I have those who love that movie down to the very fiber of their being, but beyond the fun Olivia Newton-John and ELO numbers, the acting is atrocious. That's why the show is so much fun. The over-acting is built into the script. I like to approach the performance though like the author, Howard Ashman, of Little Shop of Horrors states, "The script keeps its tongue firmly in cheek, so the actors should not. Instead, they should play with simplicity, honesty, and sweetness - even when events are at their most outlandish." The history, mythology angles are great for the rest of the school to play off of and don't be afraid to have an 80's dress up day to promote it. Have fun!

    Bruce Taws
    Mosley Drama Dept.

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