By Randi Bjornstad

Yes, it’s a classic boy-meets-girl plot, but the twist in the musical Xanadu is that the girl is the goddess Clio — a daughter of Zeus — who is moved by the struggles of a (no doubt cute) boy named Sonny, who is trying without terrific success to pursue an artistic career.

In short, Clio descends from Mt. Olympus to Venice Beach, California — the play is set in the days when disco dancing was all the rage, and Clio/Kira persuades Sonny to open the very first roller disco on the famous Venice Boardwalk.

The story started out as a film in 1980, but it didn’t make much of a splash. However, turning Xanadu into a musical in 2007 was a different story. Well, not a different story, but certainly a different result, because it ran for 500 performances in the august Helen Hayes Theater and in the process won the Best Musical award from the Outer Critics Circle as well as Drama Desk award for Best Book (meaning the script).

The Very Little Theatre’s production is directed by Russell Dyball, who relishes it as a “musical journey of humor, joy and pure entertainment” as well as holding a “very genuine belief in its significance.”

For him, Dyball said in introducing the musical Xanadu “is about taking an old theater (idea) and making it new. About celebrating the past through the lens of the present.” Not only that, he said, but “it’s about having a chance to enjoy ourselves for a bit with this little musical comedy on roller skates.”

The VLT production of Xanadu is the last show in the theater’s 2022-23 season. It’s also the theater’s 94th season as a local playhouse and the first in its completely renovated theater. Xanadu opens on May 12 and runs through May 28.

Esack Francis Grueskin and Lexy Neale lead the cast in The VLT’s production of Xanadu.

The cast features Lexy Neale and Esack Francis Grueskin as Clio (aka Kira) and Sonny. Other members of the cast are Scott Machado (as Danny Maguire), Rene Ragan (Calliope), Caroline Cramer (Melpomene), Ian Pedroza (Thalia), Ashlee Winkler (Euterpe), Hailey Eckerdt (Erato), and Chad Lowe (Terpsichore). The ensemble players are Cory Byers, Alexander H. Carr, Joshua Sayre, and Isabella Willis.

Director Dyball is assisted by Adam Leonard, with Kari Boldon Welch as choreographer/director and Al Villanueva as musical director. Stage manager is Marleena Pearson.

The crew also includes set design by Amy Dunn; costumes by Sarah Etherton assisted by apprentice designer Ellen Trummer; lighting design by Mollie Skye; light board operation by John Desatoff; sound design by Jeff Weinkauf; makeup and hair artistry by Sarah Nesslin and Kasey Ladely. Zane Ridings is prop master, and the stage grew includes Audrey Sullivan, with set construction by Amy Dunn and Tim Dunn.

Xanadu at The Very Little Theatre

When: Evenings at 7:30 p.m. on May 12-13, 19-20, 25-27; and matinees at 2 p.m. on May 14, 21, and 28

Where: The Very Little Theatre, 2350 Hilyard St., Eugene

Tickets: $29 ($24 for the Thursday performance on May 25)

Covid Protocol: For the health and safety of our audience, cast and crew, VLT encourages all who enter the theater to be vaccinated and to wear a mask while in the building. VLT may change this policy based on changing conditions as needed.