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OHS production of Xanadu comes to the stage this week

There’s a long tradition of iconic cult films having successful stage adaptations. From Hairspray to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, the well runs deep. The 1980 movie, Xanadu, anchored by Olivia Newton-John, is another famous flop that found its legs on Broadway almost a decade ago. And now the Oxford High School Theatre Department is bringing the musical to the stage this week with no shortage of disco balls or roller skates.

With all that goes wrong in the world, sometimes it’s best to sit back and have a laugh (or several), and the head of the Oxford High Theatre program, John Davenport (who is starting his 17th year with the school), says this production of Xanadu aims to do just that.

“The style of the show is a fun way to start the season and get everybody excited,” Davenport said. “That’s what this show offers.”

The show’s cast is comprised of 30 people including four faculty members. Davenport says that including teachers in adult roles has to the fun of the program.

“It’s great for the kids to work with teachers outside of the classroom,” Davenport said. “It’s added a whole new element to the program. The past three years we’ve always scheduled one show that will do that.”

Sarah Robinson, a science teacher at the high school, was thrilled at the chance to perform.

“In the realm of science, we rarely get the opportunity to sing and dance,” Robinson said, “so it’s exciting to witness students and faculty showcase talents we might not otherwise see.”

Emily Maples, another educator at the high school, finds that working with the students helps her own teaching as well.

“Working with the students outside the classroom like this is an invaluable experience that has allowed me to get to know my own students and others that I don’t and may never teach,” Maples said. “It improves the quality of my teaching day.”

Xanadu is the first of five shows that the high school will be doing for this academic year. Davenport notes that this year acts as a fundraiser so that his students may attend the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland, a prestigious theater gathering, next summer. His classes have had the honor of being nominated for the Fest five times since 2007.

“It’s a big price to take a show over there but it’s a great trip,” Davenport said. “I wouldn’t keep doing it if I didn’t see the benefit of it. I see the kids come back completely different. And then this program benefits from how much more mature they are with a better understanding of the whole craft.”

Xanadu will be running at Oxford Middle School from September 14-16 at 7:30 pm in the Kayla Mize Auditorium.