Chapter Ten
So far, the show’s success had helped it to make a strong presents
on the Broadway landscape and it was verified when it caught the
attention of the writer and producers from another Broadway show,
the long-running satirical
Forbidden Broadway. What started off as a
show making fun of Broadway and its trends 25 years ago had turned
into an institution that traces the changes of the Great White Way,
whenever a new show opens or a trend is seen in the horizon,
Forbidden Broadway is there to poke at it like a musical MAD
Magazine on stage and Xanadu’s raising star was within their radar.

The title of that year’s edition,
F. B.: Rude Awakening, is a poke at
another hit,
Spring Awakening. One production number had a
character lamenting over the lack of dramatic productions on the
“main stern” and was then horribly consulted by cast members of
Grease, Xanadu and Mama Mia! to the tune of Dumber Broadway (set
to Grease’s Summer Nights
), “That’s the evolution of the musical
today/You want a fresh ide-a/They give you Mama-Mia!/” Obviously,
Disney’s
Little Mermaid took a hit with the line: “You want souvenir
dolls?/We’ve got 20!”
Finally, after almost a year since it’s opening, the 2008 Tony
nominations was announced and Xanadu ended up with 4
nominations: Best Musical, Best Choreography, Best Book of a
Musical and Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical
(
Kerry Butler).

Now with these nominations in their back pocket, the producers
though of an innovative way to campaign for the Tony’s. Once again
using the internet and YouTube, they created an elaborate
humorous scheme featuring a fictional character name Cubby
Bernstein, a temperamental 10-year old (
appox.) ‘Tony campaign
manger’.

Soon, they released a series of videos, or episodes, of Cubby and
his work on behalf of XoB. Some episodes contained testimonials
by Broadway veterans and legends on Cubby, Cubby training the
cast on how to ‘schmooze’ big time for the Tony members and
press, establishing the ‘Yes It Can’ slogan, a ‘Cubby Cake’ press
conference and a popular one with Nathan Lane visiting Cheyenne
Jackson in his dressing room (
Jackson: “People think we’re too
gay”, Lane: “That’s outrageous! Do people say Fiddler On The Roof
is too Jewish?”
). In the final two part episode, Cynthia Nixon
appears to give the cast one final pep talk, but Cubby gets into a
fight with one of the cast members and huffs his way out of the
theatre. The ending reveals that he was a figment of his male
sectary’s imagination. The producers never did revealed who
played Cubby and acknowledged that he was a fictional character,
but it was Beane who revealed that he was played by child actor
Adam Riegler, who appeared in Broadway shows like
I and Albert
and
Shrek: The Musical.

There were other nominations the show would receive: six from the
Drama Desk Awards, 3 from Drama League Awards and one from
the
Outer Critics Circle Awards. In the end, Beane would win for
Best Book from the
Drama Desk and the show got Outstanding
New Broadway Show from the
Outer Critics Circle.

When the
Tony’s Awards aired on CBS, it was Lily Tomlin who
introduced the Xanadu segment and it’s ‘out-of-their-mind’ cast.
The number performed was
Don’t Walk Away with a different
arrangement from the regular show with both Jackson and Butler
sharing the song and Tony Roberts, coming on stage from the
audience, belting out the last line. The song ended with the cast
singing the final chorus as if it were gospel thyme while Butler was
searching for her skate. Even though the show didn’t win a single
Tony, they did receive some of the biggest audience responses of
the night.
On July 2008, Jackie Hoffman took a temporary leave of absence
from XoB to record and promote her solo record for PS Classics
called
Live From Joe’s Bar. In her absence would be Whoopi
Goldberg. This was a return to form for Goldberg as she began
her career with her self-titled 1984 one-woman stage show
(
directed by Mike Nicoles) and returned in the 2002 revival of A
Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum
and Ms.
Rainey’s Black Bottom
well as producing a few shows on the
side. This time, she easily agreed to fill in Hoffman’s role for a
six week stint which wasn’t a hard sell as a few months before,
she gave the show a rave review for her morning radio show: ‘I
loved it, loved it, loved it!...and I wanted to get people to
understand that this was just a great evening of fun. You don’t
have to be a rocket scientist to figure it out.’

As for joining the show, Whoopi said in a statement: “What better
way to stick my toe back on the Broadway stage than to join the
amazing cast of
Xanadu. It’s such a fun show and is definitely
my sensibility, as written by the divine Douglas Carter Beane.
For me, it’s going to be unbelievable.” Whoopi’s stint with
Xanadu gave the show additional boast at the box office.

It was during this time that the producers were planning a
national tour starting in San Diego at the
La Jolla Playhouse (the
show’s director also served as the theatre’s director
) with a follow
up six-month engagement in Chicago, Ill and licensed
productions in Japan, South Korea, Australia and London.

In mid-2008, the nation’s economy took a serious hit, thanks
mainly to the bubble bursting in the real estate market, the
increase levels of foreclosures and how this domino effect
torpedoed the numbers on Wall Street. This extended to NYC’s
local economy that would later include many Broadway
shows…
Xanadu On Broadway included. It was in September
that the producers announced that the show would close on
October 12th. Ahrens released a statement: “It was a joy to work
on Xanadu, a project that I truly believed in. The cast, which
became a family, was superbly talented as the entire creative
tram. It’s rare treat to have such a special experience. All my
partners, including Tara Smith, B. Swibel, Dan Vickery, Carl
Smulyan, Dale Smith and Sarah Murchison made their
Broadway [producing] debuts with this show and their
enthusiasm and belief in the project was unparallel. I thank
them all.”
LEFT:
a poster from XoB's
campaign, presenting
both Cubby and the
slogan, 'YES IT CAN!'
RIGHT:
Cubby and his
assistant stirring up
the crowds and fans
in front of the Helen
Hayes Theatre as
part of their Tony
campaign.
ABOVE: XoB writer Douglas Cater Beane
posing with Whoppi Goldberg just after the
announcement of her temporary XoB role
Unfortunately, the audience decline turned out to be much steeper than anticipated, so, just a few days after the first closure
announcement, another one was made about closure date being moved up to September 28th. To say that emotions were running a
bit high on that night’s performance would be painfully obvious. While the cast professionally did their job of keeping the show on its
toes, the audience brought their hankies with them and a dedicated few brought…well, snuck in their video cameras and audio
recorders to make a permanent, if not unofficial, record for posterity.

Just after an usher announces the standard rule of no recording allowed in the theatre
(hurr….hurr….hurr….), he added: “After 49
previews and 513 performances, we would like to remind you all that a memory lasts forever and never dose it die, true friends stay
together and never say goodbye….” The remainder of the show went on as scheduled, though Hoffman, in character, snuck in added
humorous line or two about looking for employment. Finally, just after the show ended and a three minute curtain call, Cheyenne
made a small speech in which he acknowledged Beane, the “tenacity” of the producers and the ‘Fanadus’ and ended with: “Tonight is
513th show…that’s about 512 more than anybody though we would do, including that Nightline
BITCH!” He then uttered that final
spoken line of the production, ‘To love someone and to create art…that is Xanadu!”.

The Broadway show is history but Xanadu is touring around the country and parts of the world while the movie is making it’s rounds at
revival theatres everywhere as fans, young and old, are still watching it either on YouTube or showing their DVD copies to friends (
or
what’s left of them
) and this site just pasted it’s tenth year anniversary while yours truly watches this here update almost double in size.

Naysayers focus much on the movie’s technical faults and still complain that they still don’t understand the movie’s longevity, but, yet,
they fail, or refuse, to go deeper. Maybe they fear of what’s underneath the surface and find something that gives fans hope and
inspiration from this movie and mistake it for gullibility. What they don’t know is that fans, in general, are a more smarter and realistic
than that. They know that it’s nowhere near
Citizen Cane and if Orson Wells were alive today, he’d roast his pack of cheese and Grey
Pupon covered hot dogs over a fire fueled by a negative of
Xanadu.

…..and they also know what makes
Xanadu enduring past most pop cultural easy targets and its cult and camp status is the sincerity
and it touches on the core meaning of hope and inspiration….and in this cultural climate of instant gratification and disposability, that
is an old fashioned but steady plus.

Besides, at this point, the harder you try to ignore
Xanadu, the more it will come back with vengeance and sweetly asks for another
chance (
how can you ignore those radiant eyes of Olivia, you swine?!). The only rule for enjoying Xanadu are the same for high camp
or life itself: sit back and enjoy it . Lighten up, folks. Life is too short and idiotic to take some goofy little musical THAT critically seriously.
LEFT and RIGHT:
just a small selection
of Xanadu souvenirs
offered through the
traveling XoB
company and the
Japan shows.
Footnotes
Story home