The Broadway production of Xanadu actually received some lovely reviews. Critics seemed astonished that they were compelled to write nice things about what is apparently a funny, enjoyable show.
Charles Isherwood in the New York Times started off his review: “Can a musical be simultaneously indefensible and irresistible? Why, yes it can.” He goes on to call the show “silly bliss” and quotes Douglas Carter Beane’s script (a line uttered by Tony Roberts as Zeus): “Creativity shall remain stymied for decades. The theater? They’ll just take some stinkeroo movie or some songwriter’s catalog, throw it onstage and call it a show.”
Another good quote, this one uttered by Jackie Hoffman as the muse Calliope: “This is like children’s theater for 40-year-old gay people!”
The AP’s Michael Kuchwara has this to say about Xanadu, “the jaw-droppingly awful 1980 film that sank Olivia Newton-John’s movie career yet couldn’t kill roller disco, has been turned into a fast, funny little stage musical. Quite a transformation.”
And, helpfully, Kuchwara points out that leading man Cheyenne Jackson is “sporting the best thighs on Broadway” and that leading lady Kerry Butler “knows how to slyly snare a laugh.” More praise for comic actors Hoffman and Mary Testa, who apparently chew the scenery in good ways.
Joe Dziemianowicz writing in the New York Daily News says the show is a cure for summertime blues and is “90 minutes of souped-up silliness and broad comedy.”
Clive Barnes in the New York Post, giving the show one star out of four (headline: Xanadon’t), is not a fan of the show (and has never seen the movie), but says Beane’s book is “arch and camp, a fair example of the kitschy-sink school of writing, with a few decent quips in its shivering quiver.”
BroadwayWorld.com has a terrific video interview with Hoffman and Testa (and the sequence of clips at the end really offers a taste of the show. Watch the video here.