Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Did Critics Offer Xana-Dos Or Don'ts?

Did Critics Offer Xana-Dos Or Don'ts?

Last evening, Xanadu rolled into its Broadway opening as the first musical of the 2007-08 Theatrical Season. For the most part, critics largely enjoyed the campy ride.

Citing how "at least Xanadu is in on the joke" of some of Broadway's more recent misfires, Charles Isherwood of The New York Times offers that "...there’s so much silly bliss to be had at the Helen Hayes Theater, where the new, improved Xanadu opened last night...[T]he creators and performers of Xanadu desecrate the theatah with such sharp good humor and magnetic high spirits that you won’t have much time to weep for the cultural blight that too much of Broadway has become. And in fact, there is enough first-rate stage talent rolling around in Xanadu to power a season of wholly new, old-school, non-jukebox musicals, if someone would get around to writing a few good ones."

Heralding it as a "guilt-free pleasure," Variety's David Rooney raves: "Douglas Carter Beane has taken the unpromising clay of Richard Danus and Marc Rubel's screenplay and molded it not only into an engagingly goofy spoof of the film itself but also a witty takedown of the Broadway creative climate. Sure, the book scenes occasionally stall, but what looked on paper to be one-note sketch fodder turns out to be an unexpectedly sustained and refreshingly unassuming crowd-pleaser....With a complicitous wink at the audience that's never overplayed, the creatives and cast at every turn cheekily point up the irony of charging Rialto prices for recycled trash."

Proclaiming that Xanadu "must appeal to the 40-year-old gay people in us all," Newsday's Linda Winer is also positive: "The 90-minute show, which kicked off the new season last night at the Helen Hayes Theatre, is a grand little piece of smart dumb fun. This is a takeoff that takes its craft seriously. The creators and cast of expertly good sports know precisely what they want to do, and they do it with breezy, self-referential humor and, of course, with roller skates....Kerry Butler brings a devilish edge to the romantic absurdities of Kira."

Prescribing the show as a "summertime cure for the blues," New York's Daily News critic Joe Dziemianowicz "Xanadu is 90 minutes of souped-up silliness and broad comedy....Kerry simply out of this world as Kira. She has gorgeous pipes, great comic flair and puts on a fab faux Aussie accent that could make dingoes howl for more. The hunky Cheyenne Jackson...pinch-hits for the injured James Carpinello as the dim-but-dreamy Sonny -- and he's excellent....In this story of a muse, the moment is eye and ear candy that's delightfully inspired."

Zeroing in on the show's "surprisingly agreeable flair," Eric Grode of The New York Sun also seems game: "Mr. Beane's high-low collision relies heavily on bottom-feeding interpolations of slang along the lines of 'He my baby daddy' and 'Oh, snap!' He seems to grow more and more confident in the rightness of his approach, though, as the story becomes less and less comprehensible....Both in on the joke and completely in tune with Kira's burgeoning humanity, Ms. Butler pushes past the leg warmers and wooden dance moves to unveil a real character. Mr. Jackson, an eleventh-hour replacement, manages the near-impossible and turns the vapid Sonny into a charismatic, even adorable romantic foil."

Calling it an "absolutely ghastly show" over at the New York Post, stuffy old Clive Barnes is having none of it, as his one-star review attests: "The performers - all having to keep their tongues in their cheeks for so long it must give them earaches - do well, particularly the ultra-charming Jackson....Christopher Ashley’s staging is precisely what you would expect from a man who claims to have seen the original movie 148 times. But in the end, Xanadu reminded me of something, and it wasn’t Starlight Express or even disco. It was “Ishtar.”

Last week, Xanadu 's box office hovered just under 65% capacity and offered a steal of a ticket with average prices around $50. Mr. Barnes' comments notwithstanding, this could very well be the sleeper summer hit Broadway's been waiting for.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Click here for ticket information.
Related Stories:
Xanadu (The SOB Review) (July 11, 2007)
No Khan Job: Xanadu Opens Tonight (July 10, 2007)
Broadway Can-Du? (December 18, 2007)
A Place Where Nobody Dared To Go...Until Now: They Call It Xanadu (July 18, 2006)

Labels: , , , , ,


At 12 July, 2007, Blogger Icepac said...

Saying something reminds him of Ishtar sounds like an endorsement to me. Ishtar was a great movie, with some great songs - the songs are so bad they or good, the movie is simply so good it's good. Somebody should make a broadway show out of it. I don't know how they'd do the blind camel, but I'm sure they could manage.

This 20th anniversary year is going to be a great year for Ishtar…
There is a documentary film about Ishtar fandom in the works, the
manager of the Ishtar fan website
( is putting together a tribute CD
featuring cover versions of songs from the movie, and possibly a US
release on DVD (something the heathen in Europe have been enjoying for years). So shake off that square world, get with the countdown, and blast off to Ishtar!

At 12 July, 2007, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

The Icepac cometh!

Of course, you know that Mr. Barnes is being as derisive as can be with his slam of Xanadu by comparing it to "Ishtar." I didn't realize there were actual fans of that ill-fated fiasco until your message. Sure it has Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman, but....

At 16 July, 2007, Blogger ccaggiano said...

Steve, I saw Xanadu yesterday. What a friggin' hoot. I laughed from beginning to end. Look for my review tomorrow. --cc

At 16 July, 2007, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Chris - Can't wait to hear what you have to say!

At 17 July, 2007, Blogger E said...

I missed this show by one day. Friends saw it and said it was the most unbridled fun they've had in a theater in years. "Side-splitting" is the term they used. Amazing, because other friends of mine saw the reading and said it was abominable. God bless 'em...

At 17 July, 2007, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Erik - Too bad you missed it. It's definitely worth seeing.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Technorati blog directory Blog Directory & Search engine
Visitor Map

Powered by FeedBurner