“A place where nobody dared to go…they call it Xanadu”, or so the lyrics go to the title song to Xanadu, the musical now playing at The Arts Club Theatre Company’s Granville Island Stage. Contrary to the lyrics, every body should go to Xanadu, it’s a fun, camp rolic. I’d say it’s a guilty pleasure but one shouldn’t feel guilty about having such a good time.
Based on the 1980 Olivia Newton-John starring flop of the same name, the musical throws out most of the cheesy 80’s dialogue in favour of a new book written by Douglas Carter Beane. The movie’s soundtrack, far more successful than the motion picture, stays intact with Jeff Lynne (Electric Light Orchestra) and John Farrer sharing the tracks. In addition to the original songs from the movie; “I’m Alive”, “All Over The World” and “Xanadu”, the musical included a couple more of Lynne’s ELO tracks; “Strange Magic” and “Evil Woman” plus the John Farrer written Olivia Newton-John hit “Have You Ever Been Mellow”.
Maintaining many of the plot elements from the movie, telling the story of a beautiful Greek muse, Clio (played by Marlie Collins) who dons a ingenious disguise of legwarmers, roller skates and an Australian accent, helping struggling artist, Sonny (Gaelan Beatty) to realize his dream of opening a roller disco. The story is told with a tongue firmly planted in cheek with a wink and a nod to the movie and a humourous subplot paying homage to Clash Of The Titans, another 80’s cult classic. While the original movies Xanadu is inspired by were so bad they’re good, the musical hits all the right notes and sends the audience home with a smile on their face and a familiar song in their head.
Xanadu is now playing at The Arts Club Theatre’s Granville Island Stage until August 4th: tickets are available online or at the box office.
Here we are halfway through my Top Ten! (Find disc 1, disc 2, disc 3 disc 4)
Saturday Night Fever – Original Soundtrack
Laugh as you might, this is actually a great album. Not only is it a classic that truly defined an era but it has some damn fine songs that stand up in any era. For 25 years (until the release of The Bodyguard) this was the best selling soundtrack of all time. This compilation is probably the best thing about the motion picture that it represents.
This recording was the zenith of the disco era, everyone associated with it has been defined by it. You can’t mention the “Bee Gees” without thinking of some of the song that have become their standards; Night Fever, Staying Alive, Jive Talking, How Deep Is Your Love to name just four. You can’t say the name of the movie without picturing John Travolta, one arm up-stretched in his white polyester suit. I’m sure this was a blessing and a curse to some, the Bee Gees were able to shed the “disco” label as the fashions changed but others, were not able to come out the other side.
The album was a number 1 record, won the Grammy for Album of the Year, generated five top 5 hits and sold millions. Perhaps it was the mainstream success generated by this hit soundtrack that led to the decline in Disco’s popularity. Unfortunately, with the demise of disco the backlash against this album meant many people haven’t had the chance to listen to it objectively. Hi-NRG dance, disco, ballads, pop, rock are all featured and make this a very well-rounded and entertaining soundtrack. If you give it a listen I’m sure there will be at least one track that will bring a smile to your face
As mentioned last week I’ll be introducing my Top 10 Desert Island Discs over the next while.
In no particular order we begin the journey with a soundtrack compilation.
Singles: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
An iconic soundtrack that perfectly captured the sounds of the times. Released in 1992, this compilation includes a who’s who of 90’s indie rockers. The early nineties saw the birth of the ‘grunge’ scene in Seattle and Pacific Northwest. This movie cemented the grunge movement’s place in the history and brought the music to the mainstream. Many of the artists featured on this soundtrack would go on to long term success and gain icon status over the years since; Smashing Pumpkins, Pearl Jam, Chris Cornell & Soundgarden to name a few.
Every listen, to every song takes me back to my long-haired, plaid shirt, long-johns over shorts, Doc Martin wearing youth. If you were around in that era, you know what I mean!