Screen to Stage: Movie into Musical Success Stories

By Benjamin Solomon
16 Aug 2013

Kerry Butler and Cheyenne Jackson in Xanadu.
Photo by Peter Lueders/Paul Kolnik Studio

Xanadu (2007)

When producers announced they were bringing their adaptation of the 1980s Olivia Newton John roller-disco disaster "Xanadu" to Broadway, theatregoers were understandably cautious. The now cult classic film was a notorious failure that barely broke even at the box office. But book writer Douglas Carter Beane knew the film's soundtrack of ELO songs, a smash at the time (unlike the film), was full of hits, and he set about giving the story of a Greek muse sent to Earth to inspire a street artist a lovingly self-mocking new attitude. To many skeptics' surprise, the unlikely Broadway show was a critical hit and earned four Tony nominations and even won the Drama Desk Award for Best Book of a Musical.