Drury Lane in Oakbrook Terrace stages roller musical ‘Xanadu’
Rachel Rockwell directs Gina Milo (right,) who plays the role of Kira in “Xanadu,” during a recent rehearsal at Drury Lane Theater in Oakbrook Terrace. | Ryan Pagelow~ Sun-Times Media
at Drury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace
1:30 p.m. Wednesdays, 1:30 and 8 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 5 and 8:30 p.m. Saturdays, and 2 and 6 p.m. Sundays, between Sept. 6 and Oct. 29
(630) 530-0111, www.drurylaneoakbrook.com
Updated: September 17, 2012 6:27PM
You’ve got to admire the courage of an actor who takes on the role of a Greek muse sent from Mt. Olympus to Venice Beach, Calif., to inspire a struggling artist.
Oh, did we mention, the roller skates?
Gina Milo plays Clio/Kira in Drury Lane Theatre’s production of the roller skating musical, “Xanadu.” The stage musical is a loving tribute to the much-mocked 1980 film, starring Olivia Newton-John and Gene Kelly, which has a cult following.
“I usually play sidekicks because I’m just a quirky girl,” Milo said. “It’s really fun to have the kind of show where a quirky gal like myself gets to be the lead. And, it’s Olivia Newton-John. What little girl doesn’t want to grow up and be Olivia Newton-John after the movie ‘Grease’? Getting to pretend to be her is kind of a childhood fantasy dream come true.”
Milo also loves the fact that the show is set in the 1940s, an era to which she feels very connected. “My family has always been into swing dancing,” she said. “And I’ve always been into black and white movies.”
Although Milo is enamored of Olivia Newton-John, she admitted being “so not a fan” of the film version of “Xanadu,” which she only saw after accepting the role. After viewing it, she wondered, “What did I just agree to?”
However, her opinion changed after reading the script. “It pays such great homage to the movie that if you love the movie, you’re going to love it, and if you hate the movie, you’re going to love it,” Milo said. “It lovingly pokes fun. It definitely knows how silly the movie is.”
Director and choreographer Rachel Rockwell was drawn to the show’s sense of fun. “I never get to do anything that is as completely joyful and fun and silly as this. It’s a total release,” she said.
Rockwell noted that last year she directed “Sweeney Todd” and “Sound of Music” for Drury Lane Theatre.
In addition, Rockwell declared, “I love the music,” a sentiment echoed by Milo. “It’s my youth,” the director said. “I grew up listening to this music.” The song list includes “All Over the World” and “Have You Never Been Mellow?”
Milo initially wondered how she would relate to her character, but that worry soon dissipated when she realized that even though Kira is a demigod, she has human desires. “What I love about the story of Kira is that she comes to Venice Beach thinking she’s here to inspire and to do the job that she’s so great at, but she’s the one who ends up getting inspired. And she’s the one who ends up learning and growing,” Milo said. “I love her journey.”
The skating is something else, though. “I’ve been skating around in a circle since I was 5,” Milo said. “But doing it on a stage and having to do tricks and turns—that I was not prepared to do it. It’s definitely a challenge.”
Fortunately, Milo and the other cast members have a lot of help. Rockwell previously choreographed a skating number for a production of “Dames at Sea” that she staged out of town. “And I have been on skates in multiple shows,” Rockwell said, “which is ironic considering how little I actually can skate.”
Rockwell has a lot of help for this show, though. “I’m so fortunate because my associate choreographer, Amber Mak, is a world-class figure skater,” she said.
The director has equal praise for the show’s leading lady, Milo. “She’s so great,” Rockwell said. “She has an incredible innate comedic sense and she’s so instantly likeable. She’s got an incredible voice. Olivia, look out.”