Xanadu at Chanhassen Dinner Theatres
Turning hit movies into Broadway musical vehicles has been a favorite game of the Great White Way in recent years, but Xanadu is something different. The film was a certifiable bomb when it arrived in 1980, only growing a cult following in the years afterward. That popularity, along with a score loaded with ear-friendly hits by Olivia Newton John and the Electric Light Orchestra, led to a musical, which is in its regional debut at the Chanhassen Dinner Theatres. It's a pretty strange creation: part homage to the original, part satire of the film and the distinct turn-of-the-decade culture that spawned it. The "plot" involves Greek gods, a pair of frustrated artists from different generations, and the muse who loved them both. Oh, and there's roller skating as well. It's pretty insane stuff — and really barely enough to keep the show going — but it does have the familiar, bouncy score (augmented by a handful of bonus hits, including a well-realized "Evil Woman") and a number of winning performances from the company. It's led by Jodi Carmeli and Dieter Bierbrauer as Kira (the muse) and Sonny (the sun-baked artist), and is backed up by a number of solid performances, including Keith Rice as an earlier Kira-inspired creator (played by Gene Kelly in the film), and Kersten Rodau and Seri Johnson as the "evil" muses who are there because ... well, mainly because there are supposed to be villains of some sort. The direction and choreography are up to the task of the material, providing for a breezy evening — no matter how mad the inspiration is or how slight the end result.
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