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“Xanadu” featured the largest crew and the flashiest production of recent post-pandemic Las Positas productions.

Las Positas’ latest musical was everything to be desired from “Xanadu”: roller skating, Greek and ‘80s thematic crossovers and whimsical humor. These aspects were all interpreted very closely to the original intention with small adjustments or alterations.

The cast consisted of 16 actors, and the crew was similarly sized at around 16. The cast were all selected through a careful audition process conducted by director Dyan McBride. Professors Titian Lish and John Kelly were the producer and technical director respectively, making the musical possible.

The crew and cast of Xanadu, April 12, 2023, Las Positas, Livermore, CA. The confetti was used at the end of every show. (Photo credit: Aaron Burg).

They were responsible for creating a successful musical all contained within the Black Box Theater, all within the small window of Jan. 17 to March 17.
The musical was so successful with this cast and crew that it quickly sold out all its shows. 

The small stage was used to its very limit in stage and audience.

“I know we broke even, and for a theater I know that’s pretty good. We may have even made a little money. Theater for the most part is about 40% of the show is from ticket sales. Grants and more are necessary to keep shows alive,” McBride said. 

Although the show was extremely successful, theater productions do not typically break even. 

Kelly, as corrected by Titian Lish, said that “Xanadu” had the largest expense in personel. Additionally, they stated that the orchestra, professional set and costume designers, choreographer, costume and lighting rentals, and material for the set and costumes were all large costs.

The theater program declined to comment on the exact cost of production.

McBride was tasked with interpreting the extensive, flamboyant and moving parody that was soon to become what Las Positas’ knew as “Xanadu.”

“You have to be able to articulate how you want the show to feel and look. You need to be able to articulate that to your cast, choreographer, (and more).” McBride said.

“I wanted this to look like my 12-year-olds bedroom just threw up, bright, fun and playful. The most important thing was to have fun, but we had to work on style because it was a parody.” 

McBride and the team at Las Positas achieved just that with a rainbow across the stage and retro arcade carpet wall paint, among the many intricacies across the stage.

The cast was set up to quickly learn from rehearsal and their practice tracks at home.

Miles Vetrovec was the male lead, playing Sonny Malone, and he spent hours at home on musical choreography, memorizing his lines and more.

“It’s one of those things with a show. You learn everything when you are there, and then you go home and memorize it,” Vetrovec said. 

The cast, and the leads especially, spent around 15 hours a week in the theater doing rehearsals, and spent additional time at home.

Roller skating, on the other hand, was learned on-campus.

“We stumbled and fell a few times during learning, but they made extra, double sure we had knee-pads, elbow-pads, wrist pads and helmets,” Vetrovec said. 

Las Positas’ Black Box Theater is very tight, so the staff decided to limit the roller skaters to four people. 

“Even then, with just those four, it was a lot. It was just a lot of people in the cast in that small space. There was even a bike at some point,” Vetrovec said. 

Despite this setback, the cast overcame the difficulties of skating in close-quarters, and used the stairs and second floor effectively for extra space. 

The stage design of Xanadu, April 12, 2023, Las Positas, Livermore, CA. The blueprints show the intricacies of stage casting. (Photo credit: John Kelly).

“I cast all the people at the top singing the backup stuff. I expanded the chorus, which is not typically in the musical. We decided to build the sirens out a little bit. We did research and pulled all of the real sirens. We wanted to use them all as singers. Their costumes were all adorned with feathers (to better fit),” McBride said.

The sirens, in parallel to the cast’s close companionship, became a bigger family of multiple sisters.

Despite the challenge of seeking a way to make the chorus stronger, McBride added new characters to the story to fit with the established themes and principles. 

Kale Yunker played Hermes and Ligeia in “Xanadu,” and he noticed a few setbacks as well.

“There was actually supposed to be a lot more fabric going on in the background, but a lot of the budget was put into it, and they didn’t get enough, so they had to remake what they thought they wanted it to look like,” Yunker  said.

Another setback was utilizing a lighting trick to make characters on a wall “come alive.”

We had originally planned on using projection effects when the Muses were appearing and disappearing into the mural, and we realized midway through that it just wasn’t going to work with the projectors we had available and where the set designer located the murals under the main platform.  So we pivoted and used scrim fabric for the mural walls. Scrims can be either opaque or translucent depending on the angle of the light hitting it, so actors were able to appear and disappear,” Kelly said.

“Xanadu” created a unique stage for the unique constraints of the small stage and nature of the mural. 

Despite these setbacks in production, the Las Positas Theater deserves a lot of praise for their innovative, passionate and beautifully mastered musical performance. 

“This is a great theater department. I love this place! This is the most fun I have had doing theater,” Vetrovec said.

It’s the people you are doing it with that really make it a repeatable and enjoyable experience.” 

Landon Jansen is a staff writer for the Express. Follow him @Landonjanseeen.


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