Seniors at Horace Greeley and Mamaroneck high schools are looking forward to graduation by rolling back the calendar this weekend.
Both schools present seniors-only musicals each spring: shows with casts of soon-to-be-graduates.
Both schools present their musicals this weekend.
Both schools have chosen “Xanadu,” the campy stage adaptation of the laugh-out-loud awful 1980 musical film that starred Olivia Newton-John and Gene Kelly.
“I hate to admit, but I loved the movie when I was a kid,” Mamaroneck’s director Stacie Moye says sheepishly. “This show is so funny and such a treat if you loved the movie — and it was a really bad movie — but it’s got such great music.”
“What I love about this show is that there are so many characters and so many plotlines, with all of the great (Electric Light Orchestra) hits,” Moye says. “The kids have really embraced the comedy in it and the Olivia Newton-John aspects, and poking fun at the ’80s and the disco era.”
For those who had the good sense to stay away from the movie in its original run, here’s a brief “Xanadu” synopsis: A Greek muse named Clio comes to earth — well, Venice Beach, Calif. — posing as a girl named Kira, to do what muses do: inspire great achievement.
She meets an artist named Sonny Malone whom she inspires to build a roller disco, with the help of Danny Maguire, a man she had inspired a generation earlier. (Muses being immortal.) Kira falls in love with Sonny, in direct breach of the muse handbook, drawing the ire of her fellow muses.
The songs — which firmly set the show in its ’80s time period — include “Magic,” “All Over the World,” “Suddenly,” “I’m Alive” and the title song, all of which were in regular radio play in the age of legwarmers.
(Fox Lane Middle School in Bedford is presenting “Xanadu” this weekend, too. Directed by Matt Vanacoro, performances are at 7 p.m. April 21 and 2 p.m. April 22. Tickets are available at www.seatyourself.biz/foxlane)
In Mamaroneck, Kyle Rudge plays Sonny, in a cast of 40 seniors.
“My rollerskating is not that good, but I’m working on it,” he says. “Meghan (Gerspach), who plays Kira, is a lot better than I am, and she has to rollerskate a lot more than I do.”
“I like the role because I don’t have to get lost in complicated vocabulary,” Rudge says. “He has a simple-minded California-guy mentality.”
The challenge to playing Sonny is to behave like a mellow dude while projecting his voice and speaking clearly, says Rudge, who is making his first stage appearance since playing Daddy Warbucks in fifth grade at Mamaroneck’s Central School, “a long time ago.”
At Mamaroneck, the senior musical is the only chance students have to be in a big-book high-school musical. At Greeley, there’s a big all-school musical each fall.
Cyndi Bonacum plays Kira (to Jake Cheriff’s Sonny) at Greeley. She was cast in her first high-school show within weeks of arriving on campus — and has been doing shows regularly ever since, including “Into the Woods,” “Evita,” “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” and “The Drowsy Chaperone.”
Kira allows her to use “a ridiculous, terrible Australian accent” — words like destenay (destiny) and tregeday (tragedy) — and she gets to skate again.
“I used to figure skate, for like 9 years when I was young, and it’s pretty much the same motion,” says the 17-year-old. “I get to do all sorts of tricks.”
Director Christopher Schraufnagel has assembled a cast of 190 classmates, most of whom have managed to keep the theater bug from biting.
“Everyone’s here to have a good time,” Bonacum says, “but everyone’s taking it seriously.”
None of the shows she has done has been like this biggest of musicals.
“The other day we were at a Saturday morning rehearsal in the cafeteria and we were doing these ridiculous moves to a ridiculous song from the show,” she says. “And I looked around and thought ‘Wow! These are kids I’ve been going to school with for 12 years and we’re all here doing the sprinkler and having a lot of fun.’”
“You can definitely see an element of cast bonding,” Bonacum says. “Especially for the finale, everyone comes out with big smiles on their faces.”
Horace Greeley: “Xanadu,” 8 p.m. April 20; 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. April 21; email email@example.com
Mamaroneck: “Xanadu,” 8 p.m. April 20, 21; 2 p.m. April 22; tickets at the door
Photos by Peter D. Kramer: Top, Cyndi Bonacum of Greeley; bottom, Kyle Rudge of Mamaroneck.