Theatre review: "Zanna Don't" from University of Pittsburgh Theatre

February 15, 2013
Written by: Gordon Spencer
Published by: WRCT

Theatre students at Pitt and Pitt director C.T. Steele romp through a delightful, charming, imaginative take on a goofy musical called Zanna Don’t! This 2002/3 off-Broadway debuter with book, music and lyrics by Tim Acito plus Alexander Dinelaris’ additions, has gone on to fame and fortune regionally and in London’s West End. 

Yes, the title is a spin on Xanadu, the musical, whose roller-skating choreography inspired Acito to want to emulate. He eventually abandoned the footwork but stuck to some similar plot elements and came up with a light-hearted version of an alternative society at the center of which is heterophobic Heartsville High. A fairy, a guy named Zanna, is himself at the heart of this “Musical Fairy Tale” rather than extraterrestrials from Olympus. Zanna’s magic helps everyone be happy by conjuring up love, boys with boys and girls with girls. Eventually Zanna yearns to be mortal, willing to give up his powers. 

Acito has written a gaggle of funny lines and permutations without going overboard into send-up territory, including cross-dressing legendary fairy tales. Meanwhile, given the subject, Steele has admirably made sure that these kids don’t camp, vamp, swish, or growl like butch bulldogs. The young’uns look and talk just like you’d expect in an average, innocent, expletive-free, mid-West America community circa 1950. Yet, on this far-out side of life, Steele has created a wonderful array of colorful, unique, eye-catching costumes. Whoops! Protect those orbs from the glare and possible fall-out; sequins shimmer and cascade all over the place. Scenic designer Amanda Leslie has even gussied up the nachos. Credit her, as well, with other clever prop inventions...

Read the Full Review on Gordon's Blog