Ho–Mah–Gawd! I’d forgotten how hilariously bad this classic cult flop is. I should admit up front that when I first saw Xanadu…in the theater…when it first came out…in 1980, I thought it was pretty cool. Actually, I thought most of the musical numbers were cool (except for the lame animated sequence) and I never liked Olivia Newton-John and I always thought the leading man Michael Beck was laughably bad, but it did have Gene Kelly and the ELO songs are great!
Bad as it is, Xanadu is a fantastic way to spend an evening, laughing at the jaw-dropping ’80s fashions, the full-on kitschy production numbers, the cheap-cheap-cheap-looking sets (which actually weren’t cheap, since the production cost around 20 million bucks), and a ridiculous plot (a roller-skating Greek Muse (Newton-John) appears on Earth to help a frustrated painter open a roller disco.) Oh yeah, they don’t come any worse than this. Trying hard to be a throw-back to the classic Hollywood musical, Xanadu pretty much fell on its face at the box office and it’s not hard to tell why.
This July 10th, a theatrical version of the musical opens on Broadway and judging from their website, they’ve stripped all the cheese from the production–ha! Seriously, if a successful musical can be made out of unrelated Abba tunes, Xanadu should be a hit. Plus, they’ve added “Evil Woman” to the song list. Excellent. And if Hairspray’s movie to musical and back to movie adaptation is any indication, it’s only a matter of time before a big screen Xanadu remake is in the works. [*** out of 5]