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Pittsburgh CLO starts new season with totally awesome XANADU

| Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017, 12:27 p.m.
Olivia Vadnais portrays Greek muse, Kira, in the CLO Cabaret production of 'XANADU.' Vadnais studied classical vocal performance and acting at Carnegie Mellon University.
Archie Carpenter
Olivia Vadnais portrays Greek muse, Kira, in the CLO Cabaret production of 'XANADU.' Vadnais studied classical vocal performance and acting at Carnegie Mellon University.

If you remember Rubik's Cube , feathered hair and the unchecked excess of the 1980s, get ready for a night of non-stop glamor with Pittsburgh CLO's latest production.

The 2017-18 CLO Cabaret season opens with the premiere of XANADU .

The 1980 cult film starring Pittsburgh native Gene Kelly and Olivia Newton-John was turned into a Tony Award-nominated musical in 2007 . It has been reimagined yet again for the CLO Cabaret in Downtown Pittsburgh .

The story follows California artist Sonny Malone and his dream toopen a roller disco. A Greek muse, Kira, comes to Earth to inspire him. She winds up falling in love with the mere mortal — a big "no-no" in the world of the gods.

The film (unlike its Electric Light Orchestra soundtrack) wasn't a big smash with audiences. But this production addresses and corrects that.

"While it was not initially well-received as a movie it did become a cult classic," said producing director Mark Fleischer. "When they made the Broadway show, they sort of embraced that. It's a parody of the showwithin the show."

The musical uses existing classic disco-influenced '80s rock to tell the story, so fans of ELO and Newton-John will still be able to sing along. Songs include "Magic," "All Over The World," "Suddenly," "I'm Alive," "Evil Woman," "Have You Never Been Mellow " and, of course, the title song "Xanadu."

"There's all this great music, people on roller skates — it's just fun. It's very tongue-in-cheek," Fleischer said.

The CLO Cabaret has been home to year-round entertainment in Pittsburgh since 2004. Local talent has always been an element of the theater's success. This production is certainly no exception.

Reed Allen Worth plays Sonny, while (conveniently-named) "Olivia" Vadnais plays Kira.

"Both of our lead actors are from the area," Fleischer said. "Olivia has this amazing crystal-clear voice that really does justice to Olivia-Newton John's music. And Reed has worked with us in shows before. He's just an honest actor. He has a way of making you really care about his character."

Worth grew up just across the border in Ohio and attended Point Park University .

"We started to get together and practice skating for the show," Worth said. "I used to roller blade in college, but four wheels is much more challenging."

"We have pads and everything while we train, because it can apparently get dangerous. The audience can expect lots roller skating and tons of laughs."

Olivia Vadnais, of Chagrin Falls, Ohio , studied classical vocal performance and acting at Carnegie Mellon University.

"I auditioned for the show on a whim, because I wasn't sure how my background in classical singing fit, but I just decided to go for it," said Vadnais, who marks her first CLO performance with this show.

"I fell in love with the soundtrack, and I'm really excited for the show."

Tickets for XANADU are on sale now. The show will run Oct. 12 through Dec. 17 at the CLO Cabaret in Pittsburgh's Cultural District. Buy tickets now and remember, a full menu and bar service are also available at the Cabaret. Visit CLOCabaret.com or call 412-456-6666 for tickets and details.

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