Xanadu – the musical in Australia

In 1980, Olivia Newton John and Gene Kelly starred in the pop culture phenomenon “Xanadu”. Now, the musical version of the film is coming to Melbourne’s Docklands opening on March 3rd, 2011, and then going on to tour nationally. The musical earned three Tony nominations in the United States, where it played for more than 500 performances beginning in 2007. The musical earned critcal acclaim, with The New York Times reporting that “There’s so much silly bliss to be had,”.

If you never saw the original Xanadu film, you will be pleasantly surprised by the infectiously fun soundtrack, featuring hit songs ‘Magic’, ‘All Over The World’, ‘Suddenly’, ‘I’m Alive’, ‘Evil Woman’, ‘Have You Never Been Mellow’ and ‘XANADU’. The soundtrack was composed by pop-rock favorites Jeff Lynne and John Farrar. The original movie has been brilliantly adapted by Douglas Carter Beane who won one of five 2008 Drama Desk Awards for Outstanding Book of a Musical.

The shows Australian producer, Mark Pennell (also known for Sweet Charity and Countdown: The Musical) has lined up a cast of local performers to star in the show. Cast calls from Pennell told potential cast members “If you can sing and skate and don’t mind wearing lots of blue eye-shadow, we want to hear from you.”

The movie itself follows the dreams of a struggling artist who dreams of opening a roller disco. While the original movie took itself a little more seriously, Xanadu the Musical is a tongue in cheek spoof of the disco and roller skating antics of the late seventies and early eighties. Producer Pennell says “It is a crazy show.A complete spoof of the movie and that whole era. We hope everyone buys into the madness of it all.” To bring audiences the true Xanadu experience, the Grand Xanadu Marquee is being constructed in Melbourne. The Marquee is reminiscent of Cirque de Soleil portable venues, and will seat 2000 audience members. While the venue is new to Australian theater goers, the show is designed to be fast paced and exciting, drawing viewers into the glittering years of the 70’s and 80’s.

The lead role made famous by Olivia Newton John, Goddess Kira, is being played by Aussie favorite Christie Whelan, with Sam Ludeman playing male lead Sonny. The role played by Gene Kelly in the movie, Danny (god Zeus), will be played by John McTernan. Equally notable are Kira’s two sisters, played by Susan-Ann Walker (Calliope) and Ally Fowler (Medusa).

Theater goers who enjoyed other musical hits like “Mamma Mia” will find Xanadu the Musical to be well worth the tickets. Tickets are priced for true theater lovers, well below other popular musical experiences. The performance’s references to 80’s style and culture make it a fun trip down memory lane, and the show is suitable for viewers of all ages. Go grab your leg warmers and show us your biggest hair, then take a trip to Xanadu.