Theatre Aspen’s ‘Xanadu, Jr.’ puts local kids on-stage and backstage |

Theatre Aspen’s ‘Xanadu, Jr.’ puts local kids on-stage and backstage

Students in the Theatre Aspen School's Tech Company assisting with production of "Xanadu, Jr."
Courtesy photo |

If You Go …

What: ‘Xanadu, Jr.” presented by Theatre Aspen School

When: April 15, 6:30 p.m.; April 16, 2 & 6:30 p.m.

Where: Wheeler Opera House

How much: $20/adults; $12/students

Tickets: Wheeler box office; 970-920-5770

Theatre Aspen School’s spring youth production of the musical comedy “Xanadu, Jr.” — which opened Thursday and runs through Saturday at the Wheeler Opera House — includes technical students from the recently formed Theatre Aspen School Tech Company. These students learn theatrical design and stagecraft from industry experts and gain practical experience working backstage.

A tongue-in-cheek spoof of the 1980 cult-classic movie starring Olivia Newton-John, “Xanadu, Jr.” follows a down-on-his-luck artist, Sonny Malone, who receives inspiration from Kira, an ancient greek Muse charged with helping mortals achieve greatness in the arts. Things go awry when Kira’s jealous sister casts a curse on her to fall in love with the mortal Sonny ­ something forbidden by Zeus himself. Fun music and dance, zany characters and a plethora of ’80s references will appeal to the young and young at heart.

In addition to the cast, seven members of the Tech Company will support the production. In the Tech Company, students in grades 6 through 12 take on backstage roles during the production after participating in workshops from local professionals. This spring, the Tech Company met with Broadway scenic artist Ziska Childs, local scenic designer Tom Ward, costume designer Colleen Fawley, lighting designer Loren Wilder and Wheeler sound engineer Gordon Wilder.

“Since we piloted the Tech Company at our previous spring youth production, we have seen steadily growing interest,” said Theatre Aspen education director Graham Northrup. “With this show and our upcoming summer productions of ‘James and the Giant Peach’ and ‘Bye Bye Birdie,’ we look forward to having these students put their newfound skills to work and be as integral to the process and product as our student actors are.”

“Xanadu, Jr.,” directed by Northrup, is one of five major annual youth productions by Theatre Aspen School, and is choreographed by Alie Walsh, with music direction by Terry Lee.

Registration for summer programs and productions also is underway. Theatre Aspen School offers theater education for students in Pre-K through age 19 as well as college-age students and adults. The school’s approach emphasizes employing highly-qualified teaching artists to provide excellent, age-appropriate training based on national standards — including performance, design and stagecraft — in order to build skills, character and confidence in its students. For further information contact Graham Northrup, Theatre Aspen director of education, at 970-300-4299 or visit

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