Houston Matters

Xanadu: Campy 1980 Cult Film is Revived as a Musical

There are some movies that are so bad, they’re good – in a campy, goofy sort of way. And then there are movies that are so bad, they’re just really, REALLY bad. The 1980 musical fantasy film Xanadu probably lies somewhere in-between. Critic Roger Ebert called it “mushy and limp” and “so insubstantial it keeps […]

There are some movies that are so bad, they’re good – in a campy, goofy sort of way. And then there are movies that are so bad, they’re just really, REALLY bad.

The 1980 musical fantasy film Xanadu probably lies somewhere in-between. Critic Roger Ebert called it “mushy and limp” and “so insubstantial it keeps evaporating before our eyes.” And that was one of the kinder reviews.

Xanadu starred Olivia Newton-John at the height of her fame, Gene Kelly in his last hurrah, and Michael Beck, whose film career pretty much never recovered. It combined song, dance, roller skating, and Greek mythology to tell the tale of a has-been nightclub owner, an aspiring artist, and the muse that brings them together.

While it didn’t really work on the silver screen, the music from Newton-John and ELO has endured, and gained a second life on the stage. A not-quite-faithful musical adaptation is currently in production at Stages Repertory Theatre.

Houston Public Media’s St. John Flynn recently spoke with the show’s director, Mitchell Greco, along with several actors and the show’s musical director. St. John began by asking Greco how much of the movie translates into the musical, and how writer Douglas Carter Beane differentiated it from the film.

More: Xanadu cast members perform in Houston Public Media’s Geary Performance Studio

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