I enjoyed two productions for “review” on the weekend. One, a well known fantasy musical … the other a dark, yet humorous drama. Both are worthy of your time!

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Xanadu

From l, Lovlee Carroll and Matt O’Neill in “Xanadu.”

This is the fourth production in Doma Theatre Company’s season of Broadway musicals. I’ve been there, front and center, for all of them! Under the loving guidance of Dolf Ramos and Marco Gomez … there is one more to come in November when they will offer Avenue Q, which I’ve never seen. Xanadu … a magical musical and maniacally retro theatrical experience, based on the 1980s cult film of the same name (starring Olivia Newton-John and Gene Kelly) this show is a whacky barrel of fun! Featuring two starcrossed lovers, an angry Greek father, and a family of Greek goddesses in legwarmers and on roller skates, the whole shebang is hilariously entertaining! Written by Douglas Carter Beane (book) with music/lyrics by Jeff Lynne and John Farrar, this “over the top” production was energetically directed by Hallie Baran, and performed by a talented and playful cast. Doma Theatre’s young genius Musical Director, Chris Raymond, heads a “fab” all girl onstage band, attired in Greek robes … and Angela Todaro does an eyepopping job of choreographing the dance and skating movements. Michael Mullen’s colorful array of 1980s themed costumes is outrageous fun! Xanadu opened on Broadway in 2007 for over 500 performances, and garnered multi theater awards. Although this is Doma’s version, you will know the storytelling, songs, and applaud the inspiring messages. It is 1980 at California’s Venice Beach. Clio, a beautiful ancient Greek muse, risks eternal banishment when she descends from Mt. Olympus, disguised as Kira, an Australian roller girl. Here to help the mortal, Sonny Malone, in his quest to open a roller disco club, her family is outraged! As both Clio and Kira, Lovlee Carroll is delightfully animated! A beauty from Bangladesh, her talent as an actress/singer is infectiously appealing. An undeniable “up ‘n’ comer,” watch for her name! Matt O’Neill as Sonny, the goofy surfer boy with a dream … is also multi-talented and surely headed for success. David Michael Trevino is perfect in a double role, as Zeus (Clio’s Greek father) and as Danny, the roller disco building owner. Clio’s envious Greek sisters, with varying opinions on her earthly journey, include: Veronica Scheyving, Brittany Rodin, Alan Lee, Taji Coleman, Lindsay Zana, and Bradley Sattler. All added fun lovingly sassy “spice”! Morgan Gallant and Allyson Blackstone were the limber dancers. Campy, kooky, and clever, you will likely sing along with most of the songs … and enjoy plenty of hearty laughs! Running weekends through Oct. 7 at The Met Theatre located at 1089 N. Oxford inLos Angeles. For seats, call (323) 802-4990 or go to DomaTheatre.com.

The Bellflower Sessions

From l, Stephanie Erb and Rob Nagle in “The Bellflower Sesssions.”

Celebrating The Whitefire Theatre’s 30th anniversary (the last eight years owned and run by Bryan Rasmussan) who excellently directs this world premiere play … believe me, it packs an emotional wallop! A gritty, hard hitting look at the dark places people’s psyches will go … when put in compromising life situations, this is a psychologically intriguing and most involving story. Compellingly written by Andy Bloch, repeatedly alternating darkly human dysfunction and anger, with side splitting flashes of humor, every character reveals multi-layers. An intriguing telling about a man who is out of work, out of life inspiration, and on the way out of his marriage … and his relationship with his female mentally whacked psychiatrist … this is a very good play! Incarcerated for murder, the play opens on Jack, who takes us back to the life events that led him there (a powerfully focused Rob Nagle). Jobless, uninspired, and facing divorce from his wife (Marshelle Fair) his tacky but old buddy Grant advises him, in the neighborhood bar (Michael Monks). Jack’s wife’s friend Derek offers him a business opportunity, but can’t convince him to take it (Kevin Benton). Eventually, desperate and “ticking like a bomb,” at Grant’s insistence, he begins sessions with Dr. Wendy Bellflower. Not what he expected to be sure … she is a gorgeous, volatile, sexual, and offbeat bundle of dynamite (an award worthy performance here, by Stephanie Erb) and a fine cast all round! As we study all of these characters, savoring the edgy journey, the ultimate question is … Which of them did the troubled Jack murder? A most unusual script, it held our interest from start to finish! Technical kudos are in order here too … as the mood was created perfectly. Attractive set design by John Burton, costumes by Paige Russell, lighting by Derrick McDaniel, sound by Ryan Vig, and fight choreography by Brian Danner. A meticulously produced production, taking us on a cerebral trip … do take the time to see this one! Running weekends through Oct. 13 at The Whitefire Theatre. For seats call (818) 990-2324 or go to brownpapertickets.com

It is September … which means all of our favorite TV shows will be premiering for the season. I’m excited and super sick of summer reruns! I guess I’m a bit of an entertainment junkie!

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