More often than not, a stage production begins small and then – if very lucky – makes its way to Broadway. Today, the complete opposite will take place.

More often than not, a stage production begins small and then – if very lucky – makes its way to Broadway. Today, the complete opposite will take place.

“I saw ‘Xanadu’ as a Broadway musical in New York City a few years ago and thought it was hilarious,” said Kathy Ringley, director of the Central Catholic High School production of the play, which opens today. “It is an intensely funny script, with a lot of room to ham it up. And there are, of course, the ELO songs from the 1980s disco era that are a lot of fun to perform.”

The “Xanadu” stage play is loosely based upon the Robert Greenwald-directed 1980 “romantic musical fantasy film” of the same name starring Olivia Newton-John, fresh from her breakout role in “Grease.” The play’s deviations from the movie script, however, allow the cast to poke much needed fun at the less-than Oscar-worthy film.

“There are a lot of inside jokes and one of the most fun things about this play is that it is so self-aware; it makes fun of the movie,” Ringley said. “There are moments where, for instance, there is a plot hole and a character comments that it wouldn’t be the case ‘if not for the constriction of double-casting.’ It is also a lot of fun to see the popular songs of the 80s disco era worked into the storyline.”

The more-than-20-member cast, including leads Emily Su as Kira, Patrick Disman as Sonny, and Jeffrey King as Danny began rehearsals in February, Ringley said.

“This is a very hard-working group and they were very concentrated rehearsals from 3:15 to 5:15 Monday through Thursday,” Ringley said. “I figured if they couldn’t get it in that time, I wasn’t doing my job.”

Given that she is in her 20th year at Central Catholic, along the way, Ringley’s self-confidence is not surprising. She had an equal amount of faith in her cast, however.

“Actually, this is on my second production at Central Catholic,” said Su, a senior. “But I was a member of the Canton Ballet Company - which is a preparatory track for the Cleveland Ballet, from the time I was 2 until I had a back injury at 15.”

Su said she was completely unfamiliar with “Xanadu” when she tried out for and earned the lead role.

“Then I did some research and found out that 80 percent of it is done on roller skates,” Su said. “And I had heard that the movie was a complete disaster, but thankfully, the play has a plot. It is hilarious, ridiculous and surprisingly brilliant.”

While her dance background was a definite plus in terms of balance, Su said this little bit of information caused her to be somewhat concerned about her back.

“So back in about September I started going to the North Canton (Skate Center) roller rink,” Su said of her on-stage preparation.

Along the way, Su was able to bring some newly discovered talents to the table when a choreographer was unable to attend a number of the rehearsals due to an illness. Tapping her dance background, Su took the reins and designed the dance steps herself.

“I said ‘okay kids, we’re going to get through this,” Ringley said “The kids were already making up dances, so I just said (to Su) ‘you.’ They had a lot of fun doing it and I hope the audience does too.”

Su herself called the experience stressful, but rewarding.

“It was another creative outlet and it’s going to be great seeing what we created come to life,” she said.

Staging the school’s spring musical inside the Central Catholic gym presented its own challenges and advantages, Ringley said. While the size of the space has allowed for more creative staging – and the play does, after all, revolve around the creation of a discotheque – scene changing was tough due to the fact that there is no actual stage or stage curtain.

“It is being staged on the gym floor,” Ringley said. “And we are going to make magic.”

For more information, contact Central Catholic High School at 330-478-2131, or online at