Xanadu: The most underappreciated of 80’s musicals


Most people have no idea what Xanadu is….and that is tragic. There is truly nothing more than fantastic than an Olivia Newton John musical — the film captures all of the bizarreness of 80’s musical conventions and brings them to life amidst day-glo clothes and roller skate dances. So the basic plot of the movie is that an artist (unsuccessful of course) moonlighting as record cover painter falls in love with a roller skating Greek muse (yes the divine creature who inspires great works of art). He then decides to open a roller rink nightclub with a construction entrepreneur and proceeds to make the muse violate all muse rules by falling in love with him.

There is no doubt in my mind that Xanadu might feature the most epic musical ending number ever. I mean there is something about an entire roller rink nightclub erupting into a clapping chanting number that repeats the film title over and over again amidst synchronized roller-dancing while Olivia Newton John and her romantic lead walk-dance around tight rope walkers, women spinning on ropes from the ceiling, and pop and locking dancers in gangster suits, his tresses blowing in the wind created by the whirling roller skating couples around him, that is simply genius. Yes, it feels like something out of a drug induced Cirque de Solei hallucination, but that is part of its amazingness.

This over ten minute long ending number showcases the ultimate Olivia Newton John performance.

First she tap dances:

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than she dresses in leopard print rock and roll gear and gives the entire rink a concert:

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next she becomes a cowgirl with her own personal troupe of ribbon spinning fringe covered western girls:

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finally she dons an iridescent Greek goddess ensemble leading the viewer to believe the magic is almost over, but no.


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she transforms into her muse self to blow kisses at her mortal man as her sisters skip about her. The scene ends with laser light beams teleporting her rapid fire to heaven (or wherever muses come from). This ten minute long scene contains over five costume changes, like six different musical styles, terrible special effects, cheesy acting, an obsession with an athletic trend that involves leg warmers, and all of the gaudy decadence one can hope for from a musical of the 80’s. There is literally nothing better.

And for the best part: the most famous musical lead of the golden age Gene Kelly stars in it. xana 1


Here is the scene that makes the movie:


One thought on “Xanadu: The most underappreciated of 80’s musicals

  1. One of the worst movies of the 80s and yet it became a Broadway hit. Who woulda thunk it?

    But, the film does have Gene Kelly on roller skates.

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