“Xanadu” features some of the most novel use of dressings to mask the cave set that the show has come up with. This story is set in the palace of Mighty Kublai Khan – another immortal wizard, like Belor and Rothgo – and it features Peter Copley, his voice unmistakable despite the long hair and beard. “Phantom,” on the other hand, revels in the cave set. It’s a Phantom of the Opera story, with the caves doubling for the sewers underneath the opera house.
I don’t know much of anything about pantomime theater, but I think Chris Harris was very well cast as Lazlo. Each episode lets him get into costume and play to the rafters in silly accents, much in the way I imagine that pantomimes are. In “Phantom,” Lazlo jumps into the body of a French ratcatcher, and in “Xanadu,” he’s Marco Polo. Happily, the British actors in the Chinese adventure don’t speak with fortune cookie accents, but Harris gets to talk in comedy Italian. (Or Venetian, if we desire accuracy.)
I guess it must be a generational thing, because I heard Harris using the same broad and silly stereotype voice that I’d later associate with Nintendo’s “Mario.” I asked my son about it and he raised an eyebrow and replied “No, that didn’t sound like Mario at all.” I guess he doesn’t have the decades of comedy gangsters and that’s-a-spicy-meatball commercials upon which the Mario voice was built. To him, Mario is just Mario and Marco Polo is just Marco Polo.