The history of cinema is littered with notoriously bad ideas, concepts so mind-blowing and bizarre that their very existence becomes an inexplicable mystery worthy of scholarly analysis. Even among such dubious company, 1980's Xanadu stands apart for its perplexing attempts to combine the mysticism of Greek mythology with the romanticism of roller boogie, set to the alternating compositions of John Farrar and Electric Light Orchestra, an unlikely musical mishmash that oddly suits a singular cast that includes Olivia Newton-John and Gene Kelly. Of course, the film's copious campiness guaranteed a cult following. Less predictable was the outcome of adapting such patently absurd material to the stage. And yet, when Xanadu opened on Broadway in 2007, the musical surprised critics and audiences alike with a gleeful dismissal of refined standards that actually emphasized the story's myriad absurdities. As scripted by Douglas Carter Beane, the story follows a Greek muse who takes the disguise of Kira, a roller-skating vixen, to inspire Sonny, a discouraged young artist, to realize his epic dream of creating a roller disco. Kira falls for Sonny, naturally, prompting the jealousy of the other muses and the wrath of Zeus. But while supernatural leg warmers and glittering spandex might deviate from classical views of ancient mythology, muse-mortal love affairs are the stuff of enduring fantasies — bedecked in sparkling sequins or not. (Image by Tom Sandelands)
Wednesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Wednesdays, Saturdays, 1 p.m.; Sundays, 6:30 p.m. Starts: June 1. Continues through Sept. 29, 2012
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