The Nexus of Pop-Culture Fandom

The Neon Lights Shine for Xanadu

Written by: Ron Bricker

Image What do you say about a musical based on one of the worst movies in celluloid history? What do you say about a musical that has greek mythology, roller discos, bad Australian accents, muses, roller skates, chalk drawings, and wind machines? What do you say about another fucking movie turned in a musical? What do you call it? I call it Xanadu!

When I heard that Xanadu was being turned into a musical I blurted out a big "WHAT THE FUCK?!" Are the Producers kidding me? If they have money to throw away why don't they give it to me? I can sure use that money to fund schools in Africa, help an unwed mother pay her rent, or at the very least buy whores and crack! Anything has to be more worthwhile than a musical based on a failed Olivia Newton-John vehicle, right?

However, after seeing it, I have one of two things to say. For the Broadway purists out there who turn their nose at the thought of this show I say (a gentle and friendly) fuck off! For the rest of us – the ones who enjoy entertainment, no matter how strange its source – I say go buy a ticket! The show has got something for everyone. Theater types can revel in the campiness, women (I’ll say 30 and up) can re-live their fantasies of being Olivia Newton-John as a girl, and for the men…well, seeing Kerry Butler in little skimpy outfits is nothing to pass up!

Xanadu is 1 hour and 30 minutes of pure fun!!! The book is better than the movie script, and the score features campy yet irresistible ELO songs such as "Suddenly", and "Evil Woman." The cast is top-notch, led by super-hot Kerry Butler as Clio/Kira, Broadway veteran Tony Roberts as Danny Maguire, sexy Cheyenne Jackson as Sonny, and Mary Testa and Jackie Hoffman chewing the scenery as Melpomene, and Calliope respectively. The ensemble gets to shine on and off skates (skates!), and lucky audience members can even share some stage time with some on-stage seating.

The website synopsis sums up the show perfectly – "Xanadu follows the journey of a magical and beautiful Greek muse, Kira, who descends from the heavens of Mt. Olympus to Venice Beach, California in 1980 on a quest to inspire a struggling artist, Sonny, to achieve the greatest artistic creation of all time – the first ROLLER DISCO!! But when Kira falls into a forbidden love affair with the mortal Sonny, her jealous sisters take advantage of the situation and chaos abounds.”

Book writer Douglas Carter Beane – who penned last season’s The Little Dog Laughed –  balances the perfect amount of camp, sarcasm, and intellectual wit to keep everyone pleased. The ELO songs will keep everyone in a fun, nostalgic mood. These are all good reasons to go, but the performances are what really makes this show a must see!! Kerry Butler at times channels Olivia Newton-John from the movie version, but at other times makes the role all her own. She is truly a Broadway triple-threat! Tony Roberts has such stage presence it's easy to see why he has been in this business for the past 40+ years! Cheyenne Jackson, who was a breakout star in the Broadway flop Elvis inspired musical All Shook Up, has leading man written all over his sexy, chiseled body. Mary Testa and Jackie Hoffman are truly the heart and soul of the show and why it works so well. They are comic relief and keep the audience in stitches! Watching them do a ping pong game of one-liners and zingers is amazing. They are characters actresses at the very best!

Will some people hate it? Sure! Will people say it has no place on Broadway and is ruining the integrity of the American Musical Theatre? Sure! These people need to lighten up, put on some roller-skates, some leg warmers and cozy up to this season's sleeper hit … Xanadu!

Helen Hayes Theatre
240 West 44th Street
New York, NY 10036
Tickets Telecharge 212-239-6200 | Outside NY Metro Area 800-432-7250 | Groups 212-302-7000 / 800-677-1164