A Place Where Dreams Come True: Xanadu Begins Previews on Broadway

News   A Place Where Dreams Come True: Xanadu Begins Previews on Broadway
Xanadu, the new musical based on the 1980 Universal Pictures film of the same name, begins previews at Broadway's Helen Hayes Theatre May 23. Kerry Butler, James Carpinello and Tony Roberts co-star.

James Carpinello and Kerry Butler star in Xanadu.
James Carpinello and Kerry Butler star in Xanadu. Photo by Bruce Glikas

"A Fantasy, A Musical, A Place Where Dreams Come True" was the tagline for the "Xanadu" film that starred Olivia Newton-John (whose previous release was the mammoth hit "Grease") as Kira, Gene Kelly as Danny McGuire and Michael Beck as Sonny Malone. Although the disco-era film flopped spectacularly, its soundtrack recording went double-platinum.

The Broadway production — featuring extensive roller-skating — casts Hairspray's Butler as Kira with Carpinello as Sonny, 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 Terpiscore and Marty Thomas as a Featured Skater. Opening night is June 26.

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."

At a recent open press rehearsal, leading lady Kerry Butler told Playbill.com, "[The musical is] very different from the film. [Beane] took the best moments from the movie and added in a whole new plot, really. It's much more Greek. We're really goddesses. We speak in a kind of Shakespearean language," with contemporary phraseology thrown in for anachronism. Butler said, "I'll say things like, 'Huzzah to you, my sisters! There's an artist who needs our inspiration!' And when they respond to me, I reply, 'Word!'" Of Beane, she said, "He knows that people love the movie, so he added in a lot of references to the movie. People who know the movie will say, 'Oh my God, they're doing that little thing they did in the movie!'" 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."

Kerry Butler was most recently on Broadway as Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors. She portrayed Penny Pingleton in the original Broadway cast of Hairspray, and her other Broadway credits include Belle in Beauty and the Beast, Eponine in Les Misérables and Ms. Jones in Blood Brothers. Off-Broadway she was seen in Bat Boy The Musical, The "I" Word, Prodigal and The Folsom Head. She was also part of the cast of the new musical The Opposite of Sex, which premiered in San Francisco.

Tony Roberts received Tony Award nominations for his performances in Play It Again Sam and How Now, Dow Jones. His other theatrical credits include Victor/Victoria, Barefoot in the Park, Don't Drink the Water, Sugar, Absurd Person Singular, Arsenic and Old Lace, They're Playing Our Song, Jerome Robbins' Broadway and The Sisters Rosensweig. He won the London’s Critics Poll Award for his performance in the West End mounting of Promises, Promises, and his many screen credits include "Annie Hall," "Play It Again, Sam" and "Serpico."

James Carpinello created the role of Tony Manero in the Broadway production of Saturday Night Fever. He was seen Off-Broadway in Stupid Kids, and his regional credits include Romeo and Juliet and The Tempest. His screen credits include "The Closer," "So noTORious," "The Great Raid," "The Punisher," "DeMarco Affairs," "Aces," "Mr. Life" and "Felicity."

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. Beginning June 27, the musical will offer performances Tuesday at 7 PM, Wednesday-Saturday at 8 PM with matinees Wednesday and Saturday at 2 PM and Sunday at 3 PM.

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


The "Skate to Xanadu" offer — where the first 200 people who wear roller skates to the box office can purchase half-priced tickets ($49.50, limit of two per person) — will continue on Mondays, June 4 and 25, July 16 and 30, Aug. 20, Sept. 10 and Oct. 1.

James Carpinello and Kerry Butler star in the new Broadway production of <i>Xanadu</i>.
James Carpinello and Kerry Butler star in the new Broadway production of Xanadu. Photo by Bruce Glikas
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