Theatre People favourite Christie Whelan has been cast in the coveted lead role of Greek Goddess Kira in the Broadway musical Xanadu, opening its Australian tour in Melbourne next year.
The highly sought-after Whelan has been seen on Melbourne stages in no less than four productions this year! Beginning 2010 as the vain Janet van De Graaf in MTC’s The Drowsy Chaperone, Whelan went on to perform in Manilla Street’s Starting Here, Starting Now at the Arts Centre, then starred in the title role of Sugar for The Production Company, then presented her stunning one woman show Britney Spears: The Cabaret at Chapel off Chapel.
Whelan has already been announced, along with her Drowsy co-star Geoffrey Rush, for the 2012 MTC production of The Importance of Being Earnest.
Previous hits for Whelan include Kookaburra’s Company, for which she won the 2008 Sydney Critics Award for Best New Actress for her role of April, Grease, The Production Company’s The Boy Friend and Bryant and Frank’s Once We Lived Here. Longtime Theatre People readers will also surely remember Whelan from Catchment’s Guys and Dolls and Chicago.
Kira was famously played by Olivia Newton-John in 1980’s camp classic movie Xanadu. Generation X fans will surely thrill at the chance to re-live this part of their childhood, especially given the tongue in cheek nature of the hilarious stage script by Douglas Carter Beane.
Broadway held its collective breath in July 2007 when Xanadu opened at the Helen Hayes theatre on Broadway without Jane Krakowski, who had headlined the readings and workshops of the show. Kerrie Butler (Hairspray, Little Shop of Horrors) and hunky Cheyenne Jackson (All Shook Up, 30 Rock, Glee) turned the show into a surprise hit which ran for 14 successful months. It was nominated for four 2008 Tony Awards, including Best Musical. It was also nominated for five 2008 Drama Desk Awards, with Douglas Carter Beane winning for Outstanding Book of a Musical.
The male lead of Sonny will be played by Sam Ludeman, graduate of the Ballarat Academy of Performing Arts, who will be winding up his role as Joe Vegas in Fame to take on the role. Sam was Whelan’s co-star in Once We Lived Here, and has also been seen in The Production Company’s Damn Yankees and Crazy for You.
John McTernan will take on the Gene Kelly role of Danny/Zeus, with the scene-stealing Sisters of Kira played by Susan-Ann Walker, Calliope/Aphrodite, and Ally Fowler, Melpomene/Medusa.
This hilarious, roller skating, musical adventure about following your dreams despite the limitations others set for you, rolls along to the original hit score composed by pop-rock legends Jeff Lynne and John Farrar, and includes, ‘Magic’, ‘Party All Over the World’, ‘Suddenly’, ‘I’m Alive’, ‘Xanadu’, and many other chart-topping tunes. Lynne wrote and produced all the music of Electric Light Orchestra (E.L.O), whilst Farrar was also responsible for most of the hits that were performed by Olivia Newton-John in the 1970’s.
Christopher Ashley, the US Director behind the surprise Broadway hit, will direct Xanadu in Australia and the talented Kelley Abbey will head up Choreography, helping to ensure it becomes one of Australia’s best loved musicals of our time.
Xanadu will be staged in the purpose-built ‘Grand Xanadu Marquee’ at the Docklands in Melbourne. The strictly limited season will commence with a star studded Opening Night on March 3, 2011. A charity preview night will be held on March 2, 2011, with all ticket sales going to the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre at the Austin Hospital in Heidelberg, Victoria.
Tickets to Xanadu are exceptionally well priced, with A reserve tickets at $85.90 (that’s around $60 less than Hairspray, and $80 less than Jersey Boys in Sydney). Tuesday is listed as ‘Theatre Lovers Discount Night’, with tickets only $69.90. Even more tantalizing to Theatre People readers is the ‘Stage Seating’, which sells for the bargain price of $39.90.