“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.