Curtain goes up on DWU's Xanadu on FridayShow first musical to be staged in Patten-Wing Theatre since early ’90s.
By: Candy DenOuden, The Daily Republic
After 20 years, the sounds of a musical have echoed through the Patten-Wing Theatre once again.
The theater is located on the second floor of the historic Hughes Science Hall on Dakota Wesleyan University’s campus, which was completed in 1912. It is named for Darryl Patten and Mary Wing, former associate professors of communication and theater at DWU in Mitchell who, according to the university’s website, died in 1997 just nine days apart.
DWU Director of Theatre Dan Miller said in the theater’s many years of existence, big-name stars like Bob Hope and Timothy Leary have held the spotlight on its stage, and it served for many years as the chapel on campus.
“There has been so much that has happened in that theater,” Miller said. “It has a very, very rich history.”
But, musicals seemed to have become just that -- history, as far as DWU and the Patten-Wing Theatre were concerned. The last musical performed there was “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” in 1993.
In 2011, Miller and others undertook the endeavor of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” That, however, as well as the following year’s musical, were held in the Sherman Center.
Miller said this year’s production, “Xanadu,” seemed like the perfect piece to re-introduce music to the historic stage.
“I just wanted to do something that was corny, that was fun, that people could have a lot of laughs with,” Miller said. “We felt (the Patten-Wing Theatre) would be a much better venue. We wanted people to feel as if they’re in the roller disco themselves.”
The close-up, intimate atmosphere of the theater, Miller said, provides just that sort of ambience.
“Xanadu,” is a musical play based on the 1980s film of the same name, which starred Olivia Newton-John and Gene Kelly. It follows the journey of beautiful Greek muse, Kira, who descends from Mount Olympus to Venice Beach, Calif., in 1980 on a quest to inspire a struggling artist, Sonny, to create the first roller disco.
Miller said unlike the film, which achieved cult classic status, the play takes a lighthearted approach to its noticeably quirky plot.
“The movie is awful, I’ll be the first to admit it, but it became a cult classic and a part of the ’80s,” Miller said. “This play absolutely pokes fun at how awful that movie was. It has the same characters, it has the same music, but it is so much more fun and lighthearted than that movie ever was.”
It also involves musical numbers on roller skates, something Miller said took a lot of practice.
“We’re much better at it now,” he said. “I haven’t had as much fun directing a show as I’ve had with this one. It has just been a great adventure for all of us.”
“Xanadu” will be performed at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday and March 22-23, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday and March 24. General admission is $10, and tickets are available in advance at County Fair or at the door.
Kira — Jenna Callies, Mitchell.
Sonny — Alex Smith, Kuna, Idaho
Danny (Zeus) — Monty Bohrer, associate professor business at DWU
Calliope (Aphrodite) — Kira Stammer, Mitchell.
Melpomene (Medusa) — Amanda Long, Mitchell.
Thalia (Siren, Tubes Singer, Cyclops) — Kyle Gilles, Monticello, Minn.
Terpsicore (Siren, Tubes Singer, Hermes, Centaur) — Kurt Schwartzenbach-Dilley, Mitchell.
Euterpe (Siren, Andrews Sister, Thetis) — Megan Reimnitz, Corsica.
Erato (Siren, Andrews Sister, Eros, Hera) — Brittney Kaufman, Spencer.
Lactura (Siren) — LizBeth Spinar, Plankinton.
Alphito (Siren) — Abby Carpenter, Canton.
Hegemone (Siren) — Hannah Harbour, Victorville, Calif.
Lyssa (Siren) — Madison-Ainsley Miller, Mitchell.
Director — Daniel L. Miller, DWU theatre director
Music director — Clint Desmond. DWU choral director
Accompanist — Erin Desmond, DWU instructor of voice and piano
Costume design — Melissa Vatter-Miller, Mitchell.
Scenic design — Daniel L. Miller
Stage manager — Chris Ferera, San Clemente, Calif.
Technical director — Jake Habermann, Mitchell.
Sound design / Operator — Joe Ford, Vermillion.
Choreographer (dance captain) — Reimnitz
Choreographer No. 2 — Tamika Irvin, Denver, Colo.
Choreographer No. 3 — Madi Miller, Mitchell.