Xanadu is a musical comedy with a book by Douglas Carter Beane, music and lyrics by Jeff Lynne and John Farrar, based on the 1980 cult classic film of the same name which was, in turn, inspired by the 1947 Rita Hayworth film Down to Earth. The title is a reference to the poem, Kublai Khan, or A Vision in a Dream. Xanadu is the name of the Chinese province where Khan establishes his pleasure garden in the poem. The story of the musical focuses on a magical Greek muse, Kira, who descends from Mt. Olympus to Venice Beach, California in 1980 on a quest to inspire a struggling artist, Sonny, to achieve the greatest creation of his life a roller disco. But, when Kira, disguised as an Australian roller girl, falls into forbidden love with the mortal Sonny, her jealous sisters take advantage of the situation, and Kira risks eternal banishment to the underworld.
Xanadu Workshop productions
The musical was first given a workshop production and backers' audition at the Minetta Lane Theater in Greenwich Village, New York City, in January 2007, featuring performances by Jane Krakow ski, Tony Roberts, and Cheyenne Jackson. Readings of the stage version had previously been held on April 21 and Aug. 3, 2006 at New World Stages in Manhattan. According to Beane, in rewriting the script for the Musical, he was influenced not only by the 1980 Xanadu film, but also by the 1981 fantasy film, Clash of the Titans, prompting him to add the subplot "in which Kira's jealous sister-muses doom her to fall in love with a mortal, incurring the wrath of their father, Zeus." He has noted that the stage musical focuses more on the Greek mythology plot lines but has a lot of references to the movie. Krakow ski and Jackson were cast in their respective leading roles of Kira and Sonny Malone for the Broadway run, but both eventually dropped out. Jane cited her TV shooting schedule on the NBC show 30 Rock, while Jackson cited post-production commitments for his film Hysteria.
Xanadu Broadway production
Xanadu began previews on Broadway on May 23, 2007 at the Helen Hayes Theatre and opened on July 10, 2007. The Xanadu show is directed by Christopher Ashley, and choreographed by Dan Knechtges, with sets by David Gallo, lighting by Howell Binkley, costumes by David Zinn, sound by T. Richard Fitzgerald and Carl Cassella and projections by Zachary Borovay.
There is considerable skating for Kira and Sonny, and the set extends over the orchestra pit partly into the audience. The score includes the hits from the film and also includes new arrangements by Eric Stern of "I'm Alive," "Magic," "Suddenly," and "Dancin'," as well as interpolating two classic Electric Light Orchestra songs, "Strange Magic" and "Evil Woman," plus Farrar's "Have You Never been Mellow?" The show is presented partially in the round, with some audience members seated on benches on the stage. The small cast includes
:: Kerry Butler as Kira,
:: Cheyenne Jackson as Sonny Malone
:: Tony Roberts as Danny Maguire.
James Carpinello was originally cast in the leading role of Sonny and played the role during May and June previews. Carpinello's understudy, Andre Ward, who usually plays muse Terpsicore played the Sonny role on June 12. Jackson was announced on June 14th as the new male lead. Two understudies and cast members, Ward and Curtis Holbrook, alternated in the role of Sonny until Jackson went onstage beginning June 21.
Xanadu Proposed tour and London
A national tour is currently being prepared for 2008 and producers are planning to visit London with regards to possibly staging a West End production of Xanadu.
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