Xanadu

This is a program printed for the previews and original opening date of May 2007
but Xanadu's opening was postponed - due to "technical difficulties" - until July 10th.

(Because of an injury to his foot while roller skating during a rehearsal on June 12, 2007, John Carpinello
was forced to leave the production and was replaced by Cheyanne Jackson, who had originally read for the role.)



December 15, 2006:

Xanadu to Arrive on Broadway in May 2007

By Andrew Gans

Jane Krakowski starred in a recent Xanadu reading
photo by Ben Strothmann

The new musical Xanadu based on the flop 1980 film of the same name will open on Broadway at the Helen Hayes Theatre in May 2007, reports Variety.

Xanadu features a book by Douglas Carter Beane. Readings of the musical, which utilizes songs from the movie's soundtrack, were held April 21, 2006, and Aug. 3, 2006, in Manhattan. Beane, who is currently represented on Broadway with The Little Dog Laughed, previously told Playbill.com that Rob Ahrens planned to produce a commercial production of Xanadu Off-Broadway this spring. The musical, produced by Ahrens and Dan Vickery, will now open on Broadway instead.

Although no casting has been announced, the industry paper says that Jane Krakowski and Cheyenne Jackson, who took part in a previous workshop of the show, will likely be part of the Broadway company.

The Aug. 3 reading of Xanadu featured Krakowski as Kira, the role created on screen by Olivia Newton-John; Ben Vereen as Danny, the role originally played by Gene Kelly; Cheyenne Jackson as Sonny; Mary Testa as Melephone; Annie Golden as Calliope; Asa Somers as Thalia; Leslie Kritzer as Terpsicore; Darius de Haas as Euterpe; and Angela Ai as Erato.

Christopher Ashley directed the summer reading of the musical, which utilized songs from the movie's soundtrack; Eric Stern was musical director.

Xanadu, according to a recent casting notice for an upcoming January 2007 reading, centers on "Kira, a Greek muse sent to Earth to inspire mortals and artists in Venice, CA, in the 1980's. While on earth, Kira falls in love with an artist when helping him realize his dreams."

The 1980 film "Xanadu" was written by Richard Christian Danus and Marc Reid Rubel and was directed by Robert Greenwald. Described as "a fantasy, a musical, a place where dreams come true," the film starred Olivia Newton-John, Gene Kelly, Michael Beck, James Sloyan, Dimitra Arliss, Katie Hanley, Fred McCarren and Ren Woods. Jeff Lynne and John Farrar composed the film's score.

An April 21 reading of Xanadu featured Kerry Butler as Kira and Alan Tudyk as Danny with Billy Porter as Calliope, muse of epic drama; Annie Golden as Erato, muse of lyrics and erotic poetry; Jackie Hoffman as Euterpe, muse of music; Mary Testa as Melephone, muse of tragedy; Mary Bond Davis as Polyhmnia, muse of sacred music; Cady Huffman as Terpsicore, muse of dance; Amy Hohn as Thalia, muse of comedy; and Jonathan Freeman as Urania, muse of astrology.


December 21, 2006 (http://www.newyorktheatreguide.com/news/dec06/xanadu21dec06.htm):

Xanadu to open on Broadway in May 2007

Variety has reported that a musical spoof of the mega-flop musical movie, Xanadu, is to open on Broadway in May 2007, at the Helen Hayes Theatre. Final dates have still to be confirmed.

The movie musical Xanadu was released in 1980, and starred Olivia Newton-John, Michael Beck, and Gene Kelly, and was directed by Robert Greenwald.

The movie failed at the box office, and went on to be nominated for six Golden Raspberry Awards: Worst Picture, Worst Actor (Michael Beck), Worst Actress (Newton-John), Worst Screenplay, Worst Original Song and went on to 'win' the Worst Director Award (Robert Greenwald). In 2005 the Golden Raspbery nominated Xanadu in their worst musical-movie of the last 25 years.
The Golden Raspberry Awards or Razzies were created by John Wilson in 1980, intended to complement the Academy Awards by dishonoring the worst acting, screenwriting, songwriting, directing, and films that the film industry had to offer.

In Xanadu, the Greek muses incarnate themselves on Earth to inspire men to achieve. One of them, incarnated as a girl named Kira, encounters an artist named Sonny Malone.

The book for the musical is written by Douglas Carter Beane, based on the screenplay by Richard Christian Danus and Marc Reid Rubel.

No cast has been announced for Xanadu, but it is expected that the show will star Jane Krakowski as Kira and Cheyenne Jackson as Sonny Malone, - both actors featured in these roles in a reading/workshop of the musical in Manhattan on the 3 Aug 2006.

Through the movie failed badly at the box-office, the film's soundtrack, with music by Olivia Newton-John, Electric Light Orchestra, UK pop idol Cliff Richard, and the San Francisco-based art-rock band The Tubes, went plantinum.

Considering the Soundtrack's success, it is expected that the Broadway musical will feature many of the film's songs, with extra material provided by the Electic Light Orchestra. Eric Stern is the shows musical director.


Tue 29 May 2007 (http://www.newyorktheatreguide.com/news/may07/xanadu29may07.htm):

Xanadu: 27 May performance cancelled

The 27 May matinee performance of the Broadway musical Xanadu, based on the mega-flop musical movie, had to be cancelled due to technical problems. The show is expected to play on Tue 29 May 2007 as normal.

Xanadu is currently in previews at the Helen Hayes Theatre, opening on 26 Jun 2007, the musical is currently booking through to to 29 Jul 2007

In Xanadu the Greek muses incarnate themselves on Earth to inspire men to achieve. One of them, incarnated as a girl named Kira, encounters an artist named Sonny Malone.

The cast will star Kerry Butler as Kira, the musical's principal female role, and James Carpinello will star as Sonny Malone, the principal male role. Tony Roberts will play Danny, with Mary Testa and Jackie Hoffman playing the two evil muses.

The ensemble features Curtis Holbrook, Anika Larsen, Kenita R. Miller, Andrew Ward and Marty Thomas.

Xanadu, will be directed by Christopher Ashley, with choreography by Dan Knechtges. The creative team also includes David Gallo (sets), Howell Binkley (lighting) and David Zinn (costumes).

The book for the musical is written by Douglas Carter Beane, based on the screenplay by Richard Christian Danus and Marc Reid Rubel.

The movie musical Xanadu was released in 1980, and starred Olivia Newton-John (Kira), Michael Beck (Sonny Malone), and Gene Kelly (Danny), and was directed by Robert Greenwald.

Through the movie failed badly at the box-office, the film's soundtrack, with music by Olivia Newton-John, Electric Light Orchestra, UK pop idol Cliff Richard, and the San Francisco-based art-rock band The Tubes, went plantinum.

The Broadway musical will feature many of the film's songs, with extra material provided by the Electic Light Orchestra. Eric Stern is the shows musical director.


May 23, 2007 (blog; http://photoaday.blogs.com/photo_a_day/2007/05/may_23_2007_xan.html):

May 23, 2007: XANADU!!

Been waiting for a loooonnng time for this one... first preview of Xanadu! It ROCKED! So much fun... I thought Douglas Carter Beane did a great job with the book... very self-referential and cheeky. The songs (of course) were great... including three added to the show that weren't in the movie. The performances were really good and they made the most of a small cast. And, of course... ROLLER SKATING! Defnitely going back and sitting on the stage... overall, just a really fun night.


Thursday, July 19, 2007; Posted: 1:33 PM - by Michael Dale (http://broadwayworld.com/viewcolumn.cfm?colid=20093):

The Gods Must Be Crazy

There are some Broadway musicals they say are for people who hate Broadway musicals. Others they say are for people who love Broadway musicals. I'd say Xanadu, the flat out hilarious new kid in town, is for people who love Broadway musicals but who hate Broadway musicals that are based on movies, have jukebox scores, sell on-stage seating, make the actors wear those mouthpiece microphones, wink at the audience with smarmy self-reference, are cheaply produced, are packed with jokes only gay men understand, really belong Off-Broadway and put the actors on roller skates. (Did I leave anything out?)

In a sense, bookwriter Douglas Carter Beane, the first person I'd text message if asked to assemble a 21st Century Algonquin Round Table, hasn't really written a stage adaptation of the 1980 Olivia Newton-John fiasco about a mythological ancient Greek muse with an Australian accent sent to Southern California to inspire a struggling young artist through the power of roller disco. No, what giddily glides about the stage of the Helen Hayes Theatre serves as a warning to playgoers of what to expect if they keep lowering their standards. By the end of the smart and shameless ninety minutes, just before we're treated to the Million Disco Ball March, the Mount Olympus mob that dances like Martha Graham and emotes like actors in a Ray Harryhausen epic (Beane, director Christopher Ashley and choreographer Dan Knechtges do a fabulous job of leaping from highbrow to lowbrow in instants) resign themselves to the inevitability that the 1980's will spring forth a drought of artistic inspiration. While Zeus (Tony Roberts channelling Sir Lawrence Olivier) grieves, "Creativity shall remain stymied for decades. The theater? They'll just take some stinkeroo movie or some songwriter's catalogue, throw it on stage and call it a show," the muse Clio (Kerry Butler channelling oh, you know) assures him, "I shall take the improbably popular art forms in each moment of time. The stage adaptation of the inferior cinematic offering, the musical of the box that is juke, and I shall use them to remind mankind that there is something greater than wealth or fame, and that is the human experience rendered comprehensible through art." It's not Xanadu, the film that the creators are spoofing. It's the Broadway that has cultivated an audience willing to spend big bucks to see a stage version of it. (Or, more accurately, what it would be in less insanely capable hands.)

Disguised in leg warmers, roller skates and an Australian accent, Kerry Butler is a pixieish hoot, belting out power ballads and capturing precise Newton-John inflections while gracefully wheeling like a champ. Her expertly light comic touch is perfectly utilized by Beane in one-liners that effortlessly breeze by as she balances wholesome sincerity with an impish sexiness.

Cheyenne Jackson, filling in for leading man James Carpinello while he recovers from a skating injury, is an actor who knows how to use his hunky good looks as laugh candy and as the dumb, but passionate chalk painter dude who longs to open a roller disco ("How timeless!" says Clio) he is adorably charming.


When he's not playing the stressed out king of the gods who seriously needs to get mellow, Tony Roberts plays the role originated in the film by Gene Kelly. Sporting an expression on his face that seems to say, "Is this what my career has come to?," (especially during the mega disco dance finale) Roberts' patented wry tone is just right as the owner of a dilapidated theatre who had his own muse encounter 35 years ago. In a flashback scene, Curtis Holbrook flashes impressive tap dancing skills as the younger Roberts.

The broad character shtick is handled with rowdy hilarity by two of Broadway's best Mary Testa and Jackie Hoffman as jealous muses who curse Clio with forbidden feelings of love. Along with Holbrook, the ensemble of Anika Larsen, Patti Murin (in for the ailing Kenita Miller at the performance I attended) and Andre Ward are a blast as various muses and gods.

All of the Jeff Lynne and John Farrar songs from the film are here, originally recorded by Newton-John and by Electric Light Orchestra, including top hits "Magic," "Suddenly," and "I'm Alive." ELO's "Evil Woman" is added to the mix as highlight for Testa and Hoffman, while one of Olivia Newton-John's classics is given an improbable treatment that must, must, must be included in this season's Tony Award telecast.

But despite the hit tunes, the score really takes a back seat in this musical, with songs used primarily as punch lines and vehicles for Knechtges' kitschy, celebratory choreography. And roller skating. Don't forget the roller skating.


Back in the 1920's and 30's, some of the era's greatest wits people like P.G. Wodehouse, George S. Kaufman and Herbert Fields would write the books to musicals which may have had silly plots, but were nevertheless brimming with insightful social satire and cleverness. With the diabolical creativity of Douglas Carter Beane leading the way, Xanadu succeeds in showing that mindless fluff can once again be wildly witty.

Photos by Paul Kolnik:
- Top: Kerry Butler and Cheyenne Jackson
- Center: Tony Roberts
- Bottom: Anika Larsen, Andre Ward, Mary Testa, Jackie Hoffman, Curtis Holbrook and Kenita Miller