Broadway actress shows the way to “Xanadu”

Who better to help the student actors of “Xanadu” prepare for the musical than the original actress who starred in the Broadway production 16 years ago?

Theater director Bernie DeLeo set up a workshop with Broadway starlet Kerry Butler.

The two leads in the musical, senior Dale DeVinney and junior Sophia Welch, worked with Butler.

“Mr. DeLeo told me two weeks ago [about Butler’s visit], and I couldn’t tell everyone for a week,” Welch said. “I ran home to my mom and told her about everything. I was so excited.”

Welch said she felt comfortable on stage performing for Butler, despite thinking she would be nervous. DeVinney agreed.

“Once it was all explained to me, [it was] very cool,” DeVinney said. “[I was] super excited, and it lived up to expectations.”

Seniors Sara Porjosh and Lia Davila were added onto the workshop to work with Butler towards its end.

“It wasn’t as high stakes for me because I just got added on to the workshop.” Porjosh said. “It was really fun to get feedback from somebody who had so much experience with the show.”

DeLeo said he found value in the actors hearing Butler’s process and receiving feedback.

“[The workshop provides] the two lead roles with how to approach this role from someone who created it,” DeLeo said.

In 2020, the theater department canceled its production of “Xanadu” and chose to only make a video of the final dance number.

“We had a Zoom meeting on opening night of the show where we presented [the video] to everyone on Zoom, and [Butler] dropped in to wish everybody good luck,” DeLeo said.

Butler said watching the students rehearse was nostalgic of when she was on the show.

“The students did an excellent job,” Butler wrote in an email shared with DeLeo. “They really made me laugh.”

Butler also wrote that theater is a place where everyone can come together to enjoy a show and feel connected.

“I hope everyone will come see ‘Xanadu,’” Butler wrote “I promise it will make you laugh and you will leave feeling a little happier.”

Statesmen Theatre will present their production of “Xanadu” from May 4 through 6.