If you’ve been to a Cherry Red or Hope Operas production, you know that Chris Griffin’s work can be a little ‘off the wall’, so he is in company with his hysterical and swingingly good Tarxxxanadu, which closed the evening of two shows with four mash ups from Landless Theatre Company. I was there on opening night (February 4th) for both shows.
As the hunky, loin-clothed King of the jungle (Clay Comer) is kidnapped by a dingo and fails to find his Mom, who happens to be an Olivia Newton–John look-alike (the very Australian sounding Karissa Swanigan), He learns a new way of ‘swinging’ and becomes a famous Gay (“I’m not Gay)” porno star. You still with me? As Tarzan continues to make more films with his co-star Casey (the adorable JR Russ ) – Casey falls for the jungle stud, but with no luck – the Jungle Man claims he’s a hetero.
Add into this scenario the arrival of mass murderers Mr. Gacy (the creepy Cyle Durkee) and Mr. Dahmer (an equally skin-crawling Richard Reinfield), a funny but loud porno director (Oscar Ceville) and a ‘not-all-there’ producer/owner Maggie Gallagher (Ally Jenkins) – and you can imagine the monkey business that happens on the stage.
Mr. Griffin keeps his energetic and talented cast on their toes – as they run around and hang on to the small and cramped and intimate DCAC performing space. The four songs he wrote for Tarxxxanadu not only unveil the plot, but are also very humorous. Fans of the Xanadu film will find “Gene Kelly Had His Way With Me” – sung by Ms. Swanigan, Mr. Durkee and Mr. Renfield – a funny but nasty homage to the famous dancer who starred in the film. I enjoyed tapping my feet to the two ‘company’ songs “Tarzan’ll Do” and “We’re in Love”- which sounded like two songs from the Xanadu film and recent Broadway musical version. My favorite of all the mashup songs was the lovely and heart-warming “Family” sung by Ms. Swanigan and Mr. Comer as they long to reunite again and become a family. It was a poignant moment in a zany story. Let’s just say Tarxxxanaduwas the mash-terpiece of the festival.
Landless Theatre Mash Up Fest:
Pii-Wii’s Big Poseidon Adventure
by Jon Gann
Directed by Melissa Baughman
All that Jaws
by Kerri Sheehan
directed by Andrew Baughman
Book and Music by Andrew Baughman
Lyrics by Randy Blair
Directed by Emily Jablonski
Written and Directed by Chris Griffin