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Bayou St. John (12:15 PM-9:15 PM)
A music fest on the water featuring Alexis and the Samuri, Remedy Krewe, Fleur de Tease, Hot 8 Brass Band, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, and more
Central City (1 p.m)
Second lines! Won't bow down!
Mid-City (All day)
Church and a parade to celebrate the club's 104th year
House of Blues (9:00 PM)
The Comedy Central comedian is here for some standup!
Big Top (7 p.m.)
8-16 piece traveilling circus punk troupe. Need we say more? Is there anymore to say? with Sammy Kay and the East Los Three, Dead Legends
Art Klub, 513 Elysian Fields Ave (8:00 PM)
An interactive and sparkling performance presented by Nari Tomassetti
Shadowbox Theatre (8:00 PM)
Straightforward conversational drama explores one area's gentrification through 50 years
Joe Krown feat. Russell Batiste and Walter "Wolfman" Washington
Maple Leaf (10:30PM)
Weekly gig on Oak with Krown on the organ, Washington firing up the guitar strings, and Batiste on the drums.
Hot 8 Brass Band
Howlin’ Wolf Den (10:00PM)
Weekly gig from some of the city’s best in brass
Sunday Youth Music Workshop
All ages workshop with Johnny Vidacovich. Bring your instruments!
Cajun Fais Do Do
Bruce Daigrepont is playing the washboard and getting you to bed early
Krewe du Guza
Le Bon Temps Roule (10:00PM)
Sunday Funday weekly gig from the husband and wife duo
A Place Where Nobody Dares to Go
Xanadu: A Facing the Stage Review
NoDef Drama Critic Jim Fitzmorris takes the Connection over to the Best Bank for the foremost and only 80s kitsch rollerskating musical in the metro area.
If you go, you will be ashamed of yourself. If you do not, you will have missed a great time. With that in mind, pick shame. In fact, find a group of equally shameful friends and make an adventure of it.
Xanadu has a guilty pleasure for the hip and the square of all ages. An endless stream of Eighties references, the Broadway Musical version of the god-awful Olivia Newton-John vehicle features an Olympian Muse turned faux-Australian on roller skates, talented men in drag, a plot that is simultaneously insubstantial and incomprehensible, and that gorgeously schmaltzy, romantic music courtesy of Jeff Lynne and John Farrar, otherwise known as Electric Light Orchestra. It is a strange magic that you will not be able to get out of your head.
Please do not get me wrong, this production is not the sublime loveliness of its producer JPAS' recent A Light in the Piazza. Nor does it have the cracker-jack control that was on display in the organization's Drowsy Chaperone. In fact, it continually borders on disaster. Overseen by director Dane Rhodes, Xanadu feels sloppy, rushed and like it just made it over the finish line. On more than one occasion, it seemed the performers were one misstep away from the entire evening unraveling before the audience's occasionally bewildered eyes. However, those same performers are an incredibly talented lot from top to bottom, make sure their fun is a shared experience, and muscle their way to an ultimately happy ending by evening's end.
Let us dispense with the plot as quickly as possible, shall we? One of the nine muses from Mount Olympus, Clio steps from a beachside mural to become the mortal Kira and serve as inspiration to struggling graffiti artist Sonny Malone. Together they hit upon the idea to create a rollerskating arts center where all the deeply creative in Southern California's early Reagan Era can come and thrive. They are opposed in their struggle for artistic and emotional fulfillment by Clio's jealous sisters Melpomene and Calliope and an embittered, elderly real estate mogul Danny Maguire. And all of it occurs within the confines Geoffrey Hall's simple, Greek columned set.
The only hope of making that ridiculousness work is to assemble an incredibly gifted cast with the inability to embarrass themselves. On that score, Rhodes has done his job. The two charming leads, Eddie Simon and Tiffany Michaela Jones are utterly committed to both gullible innocence and blithering imbecility as the artist and his muse. Sporting lovely voices and sparkling smiles, they skate through the roles with nary a wink of self-awareness. When they do not get a joke or rock out to songs like "Don't Walk Away", we want to hug them and say, "bless you heart." At its center, Xanadu is Douglas Carter Beane's revision of a gee-kids-let's-put-on-a-show-tale. Abetted by a sly Vatican Lokey's old-time-big-shot-vaudeville take on Maguire, Simon and Jones' infectious nitwittedness glides over the absurdity of it all. And that includes three people and two cans of spray paint transforming an abandoned theatre into a stately pleasure dome.
Aiding them in the cheesy joyousness, the supporting cast, doubling as both muses and Olympian Gods, take dizzying turns hogging the glittering spotlight in big hair supplied by Brian Peterson and bigger moves choreographed by Tara Brewer.
Jason George drops splits as Terpsichore and pitches attitude as Hermes. Jessica Mixon is a sultry Erato and a soulful Hera. Ryan Jones is spunky defiance as Thalia and has the best sight gag in the play. Along with being a spitfire of a Euterpe, Vanessa Van Vrancken tries to walk off with the evening as the goddess of love. Making less sense than The Iran-Contra Affair, her monologue in defense of the young couple is an uproarious exercise in nonsensical uplift.
But the real partners-in-crime are the dazzling duo of Peterson and Brewer. Playing Melpomene and Calliope as Disney villains, Peterson and Brewer vamp, camp, and snarl their way from scene to scene. Granted, the roles are written to eat Hall's set right down to the nails, but being given the keys to the Delorean is not the same as driving it. Wearing the hell out of the best costumes in a strong design by Adam Alonso and with songs like "Evil Woman", the two actors take the ride to 88 mph. For fans of "Strange Magic", pay close attention to what they do with the back up vocals on that song. If you do not already know the words, you will not hear them over the laughing.
Do not be daunted by the seemingly long trek. The proscenium arch Teatro Westwego is one of the best-kept theatrical secrets in town. There is not a more comfortable, accomodating space in the city. It is also easy to reach. Simply take The Crescent City Connection to The West Bank Expressway and drive into Westwego. Turn right at Avenue A and motor all the way to the end until you see the theatre on your left. If you have the time, might I suggest leaving early, getting off at the Stumpf Exit and catching a quick bite at the great Vietnamese restaurant Pho Tau Bay. It is a perfect hipster evening for all you fans of Eighties Night. So get over your fear of The Wank and revel in one of the most fantabulous shows of the year.
With apologies to the composers Mr. Lynne and Mr. Farrar, this production will not bring you down.
Dead Huey Long, Emma Boyce, Ian Hoch, Sarah Esenwein, Ryan Sparks, Will Dilella, Chris Rinaldi, Lianna Patch, Phil Yiannopoulos, Cate Czarnecki, Jonas Griffin, Jennifer Abbot, Mary Kilpatrick, Elaina Patton, Mike Horst, Devin Bambrick, Katherine McGuire, Norris Ortolano, Joe Shriner
Ryan Sparks, Kerem Ozkan
Michael Weber, B.A.
Assistant Managing Editor
B. E. Mintz
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Minced Media, Inc.