Chapter Six part two
There were subtle changes to the production during the month
long duration, more notable were more sight gags and the music
before and after the show were now ONJ and ELO hits from 1979.

Due to the resounding success, there was talk about extending
the show just beyond the November 11th date, but underneath,
the negocations weren’t going very well. It got to the point when
someone from the ELO camp requested that Ms. Hodges’
unofficial XL! fan-site be taken down because they felt it was
“antagonizing” that the site existed.

So the show was closed as originally planned and raised just
under five thousand dollars for its charities. However, it really
wasn’t over just yet. About a month later, the productions props
and script were sent to St. Louis for a weeklong engagement and,
in June 2002, a “under the radar” benefit performance in
Collinsville, Illinois.

Even though the whole production was a large financial loss for
the couple/producers, Pietz looks back with little to no regrets. “It
was worth it in many regards especially since it opened after
9/11,” she had said recently, “and EVERYONE who came to the
theatre including ourselves needed the joyous distraction.”   

It was months later when it was announced in an ONJ interview in
the 4/27/02 edition of the Australian magazine
New Idea, that
John Farrar was writing a
Xanadu stage play of his own for
Broadway. When a fan quizzed one of the magazines editors over
this item, he replied that Farrar indeed had the script ready to go,
but casting, rehearsals and a actual date wasn’t been confirmed.

Despite the anti-climatic ending, the shows engagement marked
a small Xanadu resurgence, mainly with theatre screenings
around the country. More prominate example was a Xanadu ‘sing-
a-long’ screening as part of the 2002 OutFest, the Los Angeles
Gay/Lesbian Film Festival, where the sold out engagement was
populated with many dressing up as muses, Xanadu dancers
and a small handful of Jeff Lynnes.
ABOVE:
The entire XL! cast on closing night
BELOW:
fan Heather Hoban with the XL! Muses
The event was even covered by the LA Times for a large Xanadu
article that was published a week later. The show started off with a
brief opening set by the Gay Men’s Choir Of LA.  Once the movie
started, so did the party; cheers for Olivia’ and Kelly’s credits and a
few boos when Beck’s name first came up, shouts of ‘Sugar Daddy’
during scenes with Kelly and Beck and other playful cat calls that
suggested a MST3K audition (Warning: this will not be the last time I’
ll use this reference!-ed.) and the usual shouting of the lyrics,
karaoke style!

The movie is ludicrous, touching, excruciatingly bad acting in parts
and, well...strangely and utterly charming. “ noted the Times reporter,
Reed Johnson. “By the time ON-J launched into the theme-song
finale, everyone was on their feet, swaying and dancing in the aisles.”
And then the party was over…the muse has left the building.

One fan who had to miss the event was a major focus of the Times
piece, Ken Anderson. He was too busy getting ready for his Xanadu
Extravaganza Weekend at his aerobics studio in Santa Monica, CA.  
“It wasn’t a good movie, by a long shot, even I knew that”, Anderson
remarked about the movie. “In retrospect I can’t figure out what it was,
but it had this huge, transcendent effect on me.” A friend of Anderson
who was serving as a master of ceremonies for Anderson remarked,
“It’s such a amazing thing, because what [Xanadu] is saying is
anything can change somebody’s life, anything can be your muse.
And in Ken’s case, it’s true.”

The article also mentioned that fans were now referring to
themselves as ‘Xanadudes’ and ‘Xanadudettes’ and, as a group,
‘Museheads’. The piece had a rare statement by the director Robert
Greenwald on his bewilderment at the film’s longevity: “I knew that
there was a huge following among young teenage girls because I’ve
gotten letters over the years. To be a little bit elliptical, it was a time in
my own life when retreating into a fantasy world was a highly
desirable and a necessary thing for me.”

Xanadu’s 25th Anniversary was creeping up on everybody and,
despite the film’s resurging popularity and its increasing midnight
screenings across the country, Universal Studios was willing to let
this milestone pass without a sound. However, some hard-core fans
wasn’t going to let this pass without a some noise.

One of the critics from
Film Threat (a former magazine/now web site
geared towards independent film and media
), Phil Hall, was first to
mark this occasion by giving Xanadu 5 stars, or clip boards. In the
first paragraph, he belts it out: “It needs to be said! Xanadu is the
greatest movie musical every made!”
ABOVE:
Ken Anderson leading his class with the Xanadu logo
looking over everybody
BELOW:
a snap shot of the Xanadu sing-a-long
While he honestly checks off the films weakness against musical titans like Singing In The Rain and the works of Bob Fosse and
Vincente Minnelli, he offers an explanation behind his bold statement: “… it offers nothing but pure wall-to-wall fun and nonsense to
keep a smile on one’s face from the opening credits…through the end of the picture.”

He then goes into detail about the film’s “wacky” aesthetic and its unpretentiousness: “…it is escapist-silly without being emotionally
stupid.” Then there’s the other pluses, like Olivia: “…she dances, she sings and she acts….okay, she can’t act, but she looks so
fantastic that it easy to overlook this. In fact, Newton-John is such a strong presents that her sex appeal and star power compensate
for Michael Beck’s lack of both as her leading man.” and Kelly: “Seeing someone of Kelly’s age doing something as vigorous as this
is quite a sight, and the veteran showman keeps his grin wide as he skates about with supersonic abandon.”

James Berardinelli from
Reelreviews.com made an interesting summation that the film “may not achieved its director’s original lofty
ambitions but, by failing so spectacularly, it has become much more. Had the film been a modest financial and creative success, it
would likely to be forgotten today.”
One fan, Heather Hoban, decided to take a step further and put on a small unofficial
anniversary party by renting a copy of the film and the glorious art deco
Alex Theatre
in Burbank, California and announced a special screening benefit for the American
Red Cross (
in honor of the hurricane Katrina aftermath) on September 30, 2005 with
a few surprises.

Even before the screening started, there was a prevailing party atmosphere where
fans were tailgating all over the theatre’s elaborately designed lobby with several
show and tell moments like fans showing off their homemade
Xanadu t-shirts and
their collectibles like press kits and 8-tracks, some of which where on display
behind the theatre’s concession stand counter.     

The evening was hosted by Marc Edward Heuck, who was the “movie geek” in
Comedy Central’s 2000/01 series, ‘
Beat The Geeks’. At the beginning of the show,
he made a short and poignant speech about the movie’s ”sincere innocents” in the
face of its flaws, the critics and cat callers. After the speech and a costume contest,
Heuck brought up a member of the original Xanadu dancers, Tony Selznick. Tony
said he enjoyed the experience very much and offered some brief behind the scene
stories. It was then announced that they were many Xanadu dancers and crew
members in the audience and they were met with wild applause.

During the screening, Hoban surprised everyone with the sudden appearance of live
dancers as they rushed the stage during the
Dancin’ number and danced along with
the movie screen. This became the highlight of this party. (
refer to the
ANNIVERSARY article else where in the site for more annoying details –ed.
)
Chapter Seven
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