Thursday, November 29, 2018

#TBT: Xanadu: The Book (Seriously!)

Like many young kids in the early 80's, I played the soundtrack to the movie Xanadu to death, and I knew every lyric, pause and audible breath on the Olivia Newton-John side. And I played, if I do say so myself, a mean air guitar and air keyboard, to every song on the E.L.O. side. It was also (around the 100th time I sang along to "Magic") that I first, finally, admitted to myself that it wasn't a straight crush I had on Olivia, but my first gay crush on someone who would become an amazing gay ally.

So, imagine my delight to find out that Xanadu was being made into a musical. Everyone around me was predicting disaster and a fast flop. I bought a ticket anyway, and went in thinking, "well, at least we can say we saw it and laugh about it after." Neither Mike nor I expected what we saw, and we didn't expect to love it. But we did, and ended up seeing it several more times, including from onstage. I've got all the different Playbills, including my coveted first edition including James Carpinello above the title (I didn't see him, but I did see Cheyenne Jackson's first credited performance), the cast recording, as well as both versions of the window card, plus an autographed copy, too.

Which brings me to today's Throwback Thursday memorabilia, the coffee table book, Xanadu: The Book! I love everything about this tome, from its irreverent send up of other such books - the audacity of publishing it in giant soft cover!

There's a lot packed into these 80+ pages: dozens of full color production photos, interviews with the producers and Douglas Carter Beane (book), and a fun questionnaire with director Christopher Ashley. There are also great articles about each design element, along with photos of those things that inspired the designs. One of the funniest things is the interview with the screenwriter of the movie!

If you can get your hands on a copy of this, grab it up, put on your leg warmers, put on the cast recording, and get to reading!

Here's a look back at the show that inspired the book - seriously!


  • The show began previews at the Helen Hayes Theatre on May 23, 2007, and opened on July 10th after 49 previews. The show closed after 512 performances on September 28, 2008.
  • Olivia Newton-John came to see the show and loved it!
  • Whoopi Goldberg played the part originated by Jackie Hoffman for several weeks during the run.
  • The show was nominated for 4 Tony Awards, including Best Musical.
  • Several of today's most popular Broadway people were in the show: Kerry Butler (Mean Girls, Beetlejuice), Cheyenne Jackson (Finian's Rainbow), Jackie Hoffman (On the Town, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Addams Family), Mary Testa (Queen of the Mist), Kenita R. Miller (Once on This Island), Anika Larson (Beautiful), Curtis Holbrook (SpongeBob SquarePants, West Side Story), Marty Thomas (King Kong), and Andre Ward (Rock of Ages). Patti Murin (Lysistrata Jones, Frozen) and Annie Golden (The Full Monty, Violet) were understudies. The national tour included Elizabeth Stanley (On the Town, Company, Jagged Little Pill) and Max von Essen (Evita, An American in Paris, Anastasia).

The National Tour

(Click on the pictures to enlarge!)


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