I got to see Xanadu a second time on my recent holiday jaunt to NYC, and I remain captivated by its innumerable charms. The audience seemed significantly less responsive than the one when I saw the show previously, but that could just be a function of the fact that this was a Wednesday matinée, and not a reflection on the uniformly excellent cast.
Our seats were in the second row, giving us ample opportunity to stare up at Cheyenne Jackson's strong thighs. Woof. There are certainly worse perspectives. Jackson is still fresh and funny as Sonny, bringing a deceptive simplicity to the character. Kerry Butler once again impressed me with her strong voice, superb comic timing, and crack roller-skating skills.
Among the supporting cast, Tony Roberts brought a sure hand to the role of Danny McGuire, the Gene Kelly role in the laughably bad movie upon which this delightful show is based. The absolutely priceless Mary Testa and Jackie Hoffman, as Butler's conniving sister muses, remain two of the best reasons to see these show.
But the real star of Xanadu is Douglas Carter Beane's literate, erudite, and above all funny book, combined with Christopher Ashley's sharp direction. Both times I saw the show, there was a stand-in for one of the chorus members, and each time the understudy definitely smelled what Beane and Ashley were cooking, giving performances that were totally consonant with the arch style exhibited by the rest of the cast.
The show certainly benefited financially from being one of the only shows running during the recent stagehand strike. The grosses for those weeks increased sharply, peaking on Thanksgiving weekend at $460,000. Once the strike ended, and there were plenty of other shows for theatergoers to choose from, the show's business in December settled back into what it had been pre-strike.
C'mon, people. This is not a show that should be playing to half-empty houses. Let's help this show make it past the bleak midwinter and run at least long enough to snatch up a bunch of Tony nominations, and hopefully a few actual awards. Now that both The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee [sniff] and The Drowsy Chaperone [double sniff] are closing, Xanadu will arguably become the funniest show on Broadway, with Avenue Q running a close second. If you haven't seen Xanadu, go now. If you have seen it, go again. Take my word for it: the show is just as much fun the second time around.