Xanadu skated onto the Drury Lane Theatre, 175 E. Chestnut, stage this past January and continues on for an open run. A standout in the cast is Julius Thomas III, who plays Terpsichore ( the muse of dance ) as well as Young Danny, Hermes and the Centaur. Taking off his taps and roller skates, he pulled up a chair to sit down with Windy City Times.
Windy City Times: Hi, Julius! I just saw Xanadu. What a great job you did! Is the first time that you've played a sister?
Julius Thomas III: Yes, this is definitely the first time playing a sister. But I am sure it won't be the last. Not after this showing. [ Both laugh. ]
WCT: I grew up listening to the Xanadu soundtrack. The music still somehow works today. Did that inspire you to audition?
JT: Actually, it was two things. Roller skates were one of them because when I first heard about the show and heard it was on roller skates, I remembered roller-skating a lot as a kid. My parents were big fans of the roller disco. Also, I had heard that it would be in Chicago for an open-ended run. I said there is no way that I am not getting on a show that's near home, so I could be close to my family. My family has not seen the last few shows that I have done because they have been so far away.
WCT: Have they seen it already?
JT: They have seen it twice. And they plan to come back more.
WCT: Are you from Indiana?
JT: I am from Gary, Ind. I was born in Hammond but we have lived in Gary the majority of my life.
WCT: What was the audition like? Did you have to roller-skate?
JT: I did. They had us come in and read our lines first. Then we had to do interpretive dance to the lines. My audition consisted of my doing my entire role in a southern accent while doing Alvin Ailey-esque moves. After that I sang quite a bit and tap danced for them, as well as roller-skated for them. It was quite a long process.
WCT: Do you have a big dance background? Tap class was impossible for me to learn in college.
JT: Yeah, I started in 2000, right around my freshman year. I fell in love with tap. I consider myself to be a singer/dancer who acts. I am happy to do roles that are more movement based. It's a blast for me.
WCT: You're what they call a "triple threat." You spent time in Oklahoma. That's where I was born.
JT: I spent a summer there working at the Lyric Theatre in Oklahoma. I did Aida and Five Guys Named Moe there.
WCT: Did you enjoy being in the 25th Annual Putman County Spelling Bee?
JT: That was my first professional show. It was a couple of months after I graduated. I had moved back here and decided that I wanted to make this my home base. I did that for a year and a half working in the same theater, Drury Lane. This is kind of like a homecoming.
WCT: You mentioned the Thundercats in your bio. Are you a fan?
JT: You could not talk to me when the Thundercats were on television! My mom taped all the old episodes and I still have them. There's no better cartoon in my mind.
WCT: Your centaur is a showstopper. I think in the hard times that we live in now, it's nice to have an escape and forget the problems that we all face with a fun musical.
JT: Exactly. The love story is my favorite part. In between the story of boy meets girl and loses girl and has to get her back, there is all this silliness and the fun. It's an opportunity for me to come to work and be silly for an hour and a half.
I hope the crowds "dare to go" to see Xanadu. For more information, visit www.DruryLaneWaterTower.com or www.BroadwayinChicago.com .