As you may know, the 1980 Movie XANADU, starring Olivia Newton-John is in the running for worst movie of all time. 

The movie didn’t cut it.  The play does.  It moves quickly with great dancing, singing and acting.  The Jeff Lynne and John Farrar score uses many of the songs from the movie;  the one addition I love is John Farrar’s “Have You Never Been Mellow?”—the Olivia Newton-John hit and one of my personal favorites.  These talented actors know musical comedy and are definitely enjoying their Broadway careers.  The play is funny and uplifting and involves the audience in so many ways:  stage seats for audience members,  cast members entering the audience and Tony Roberts as Danny Maguire delivering lines from the balcony.  It was impossible not to clap cadence and tap feet along with some of the numbers.

The difference between this play and the movie, ultimately, is that the play does not take itself seriously.  It jokes about the movie:  Broadway veteran Tony Roberts, as Zeus, says:  “Take a stinkeroo of a movie, put in on a stage, and call it a show.”  Funny line. 

Kerry Butler plays Kira—actually the Muse Clio—who must remain anonymous and must certainly not fall in love with a mortal.  As part of her disguise she takes on an Australian accent, an allusion to Olivia Newton-John’s nationality.  (Olivia was born in England and spent her childhood down under.)

There is tap dancing, scat singing and two scheming Muses using shrill annoying voices when they’re supposed to.  The set allows ample room for roller skating which is quite good at times, but by no means the point.  A huge mirror lowers into place as needed and shows the trap door and elevator from which characters emerge, and into which they disappear.  Pegasus, the flying horse, descends for Kira to ride above the stage, eye to eye with balcony patrons.

Almost never off-color, writer Douglas Carter Beane does indulge himself at one point when one of the Muses, upon seeing Cheyenne Jackson as the hunky Sonny, asks:  “Are the big hands and the big feet telling me what I want to know?”  Few kids will get that reference and it should not deter you from taking them.  If you want to know if Kira violates the taboo and does fall in love with Sonny, you will have to go to the Helen Hayes Theatre and find out for yourself.  Definitely a family show;  definitely worth seeing.  Good chance I will see it again.