This morning the peeps over at Gawker HQ alerted us to a video segment that aired on ABC News on the latest movie-cum-musical to hit Broadway, Xanadu, thinking it would be something we'd want to mock. Clearly, they don't know fuck-all about us, because if there's one thing we love as much as the cult 80's film (Anna's dad took her to see it, uh, four times) featuring Olivia Newton-John, an amazing E.L.O. score, and roller-skating is a Broadway musical version of said movie, involving an actress actively doing an Olivia Newton-John impression (yes!) , that amazing E.L.O. score, and roller-skating. In fact, we were lucky enough to catch a preview of the show this weekend (it opens officially tonight) and we've been glowing ever since. After the jump, a completely and totally-biased rave review.
If you've never seen Xanadu the movie, here's the story in a nutshell: Loser Venice Beach chalk artist named Sonny creates street mural of Greek muses. They come to life. The main muse, Clio, (played by Olivia-Newton John), sets out to inspire the poor schlub Sonny to greatness. And along the way they fall in love and sing and do roller-disco. Naturally! Well, not so much: The reason that Xanadu is remembered as one of the biggest flops of all time was that, uh, no one seemed to tell any of the people involved that it that the conceit was a totally absurd one. Thankfully, those behind the musical version got it. And then some. The pups involved in this production camp it out like it's nobody's business. Kerry Butler (who plays Clio/Kira, the identity she assumes in "human" form while musing it up in leg warmers) does a dead-on Olivia impersonation, dragging out her put-on Australian accent somewhat shamelessly. Stealing the show, though, is Mary Testa as Clio's evil sister who, naturally, sings the ELO 80's classic "Evil Woman," one of the show's stand-out numbers, despite the fact that it wasn't in the original movie. As for the dialogue and the music, well, the revised script is snappier and more self-aware (thankfully) than the movie's was, filled with all sorts of anachronistic slang that moves the 90-minute show along with snap. And the score! It's exactly as we remember it — only better, because the actors performing it look alternately absurdly serious and moments away from peeing in their pants laughing. Exactly as they should be. At the end of the day, Xanadu: The Musical succeeds because it laughs at itself, and laughs hard. Plus, it has rollerskates.