Tuesday, July 18, 2006

A Place Where Nobody Dared To Go...Until Now: They Call It Xanadu

A Place Where Nobody Dared To Go...Until Now: They Call It Xanadu

Perhaps with the plethora of movies-turned-musicals, ranging from the possibility of a Batman tuner to the confirmed Legally Blonde (scheduled for Broadway's Palace Theatre early next year), it was only a matter of time until someone mined Olivia Newton-John's thin movie repertoire for inspiration. With apologies to Cole Porter, it seems that anything goes today. While many films have translated well to theatrical musicals (The Producers, Hairspray, Beauty And The Beast), many have been critically drubbed (Sweet Smell of Success, Tarzan, Lestat). Yet they keep on coming!

Now, the 1980 film fiasco "Xanadu" -- that famously received a one-sentence review: "In a word, Xana-don't" -- is about to get its second musical reading treatment on August 3. Surprisingly, the cast isn't too shabby. Jane Krakowski is set for the Newton-John role (Kira), Ben Vereen will take on the role established on celluloid by Gene Kelly (Danny), and Broadway babies like Cheyenne Jackson, Annie Golden and Mary Testa will also participate.

While the movie didn't fare very well, its soundtrack was a huge hit, marrying tunes by Electric Light Orchestra's Jeff Lynne with fare by John Ferrar, who wrote a large cross-section of Olivia Newton-John's hit catalogue. Those songs will be included in the score for the stage adaptation. Xanadu will be directed by Christopher Ashley and feature a book by Douglas Carter Beane (critically-acclaimed for his Off-Broadway sensation, The Little Dog Laughed, which will transfer to the Great White Way this fall).

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

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At 22 July, 2006, Blogger StephenMosher said...

I was a teenager when this movie came out; I had some taste but some of it was bad. Even as a gay boy I was in love with ONJ and with Gene Kelly in the cast, this was a picture I wasn't going to miss.

Never has a movie tried so hard to be so many things and missed every mark.

I still get a thrill, though, whenever I hear the song MAGIC and remember that the first time I heard it I said to myself "That song will be a big hit". They played it all summer. It was one of the first times that I called it right.

I don't want to make any predictions on this new venture. I don't want to be right, this time.

At 22 July, 2006, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

While the movie may have been poorly conceived, there's no denying the appeal of its soundtrack, which found its way into my personal collection shortly after I first heard "Magic." Too bad the movie was anything but -- although its cult status certainly helped to inspire the Off-Broadway smash "Zanna Don't."

At 31 July, 2006, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Asa Somers will be replacing the previously announced Jai Rodriguez as Thalia in the invitation-only reading of Xanadu. Somers was in the Broadway version of Taboo.


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