Jackson Makes Early Appearance in Xanadu

News   Jackson Makes Early Appearance in Xanadu
 
Cheyenne Jackson, who starred in a workshop of Xanadu, stepped into the role of Sonny in the Broadway production of that new musical one day earlier than expected.

Cheyenne Jackson joins the cast of Xanadu.
Cheyenne Jackson joins the cast of Xanadu. Photo by Ben Strothmann

Jackson's start date had been announced for June 22, but the actor surprised June 21 audiences at the Helen Hayes Theatre when he made his first appearance in the role of Sonny.

Jackson succeeds James Carpinello, who was injured during a June 12 rehearsal of the musical, which is currently in previews. Xanadu, which had originally scheduled a June 26 opening, will now officially open July 10.

In a recent statement Jackson said, "I'm excited to join the cast of Xanadu while James Carpinello recovers — my heart goes out to him, as he spent months working on this project, only to be injured so close to opening night. I am honored to borrow his skates. I owe a lot to (director) Christopher Ashley & (writer) Douglas Carter Beane and would gladly paint their apartments if they called and asked."

Xanadu lead producer Robert Ahrens added, "After difficult days for James and the company, I am pleased to welcome Cheyenne. Stepping in on such short notice exemplifies the true Broadway spirit."

When Carpinello will return to the production has not been announced, although a spokesperson for the new musical told Playbill.com that the actor does hope to be able to rejoin the cast at some point. Cheyenne Jackson, who was seen in the film "United 93," has appeared on Broadway in All Shook Up, Aida and Thoroughly Modern Millie. He starred in the premiere cast of Altar Boyz, and his regional credits include West Side Story, The Most Happy Fella, Children of Eden, Hair, Carousel, Damn Yankees and Kismet. Jackson is a member of the Broadway Inspirational Voices and was recently seen Off-Broadway in The Agony and the Agony.

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Xanadu began previews at Broadway's Helen Hayes Theatre May 23. The cast also features Kerry Butler as Kira, Tony Roberts as Danny Maguire/Zeus, Curtis Holbrook as Thalia, Anika Larsen as Euterpe, Kenita Miller as Erato, Mary Testa as Melpomene/Medusa, Jackie Hoffman as Calliope/Aphrodite, André Ward as Terpsicore and Marty Thomas as a Featured Skater.

Directed by Christopher Ashley, Xanadu features choreography by Dan Knechtges and musical direction and arrangements by Eric Stern. The design team includes David Gallo (scenic design), Howell Binkley (lighting design), David Zinn (costume design), T. Richard Fitzgerald and Carl Casella (sound design), Zachary Borovay (projections design) and Charles LePoint (wig and hair design). John Miller is music coordinator.

Xanadu boasts a book by Little Dog Laughed playwright Douglas Carter Beane — a 2007 Tony Award nominee — and utilizes songs from John Farrar and Jeff Lynne's film soundtrack. The musical, according to press notes, "tells the story of one of the nine muses of ancient Greece who comes to earth to inspire the greatest of artistic achievements – a roller disco. Along the way she falls in love, bumps into an old acquaintance and for the first time, feels the desire to create herself."

Xanadu, which is performed without an intermission, features the songs "I'm Alive," "Magic," "Evil Woman," "Suddenly," "Whenever You're Away From Me," "Dancin'," "Strange Music," "All Over the World," "Don't Walk Away," "Fool," "The Fall," "Suspended in Time," "Have You Never Been Mellow?" and "Xanadu."

The 1980 film "Xanadu" was written by Richard Christian Danus and Marc Reid Rubel and was directed by Robert Greenwald.

The performance schedule is Tuesday-Saturday at 8 PM, Saturday at 2 PM and Sunday at 3 PM.

The Helen Hayes Theatre is located in Manhattan at 240 West 44th Street.

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