Show History



Xanadu is based on the 1980 cult classic film of the same name, which was, in turn, inspired by the 1947 Rita Hayworth film Down to Earth, a sequel to the 1941 movie Here Comes Mr. Jordan, which was an adaptation of the play Heaven Can Wait by Harry Segall. The title is a reference to the poem Kubla Khan, or A Vision in a Dream. A Fragment, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Xanadu is the name of the Chinese province where Khan establishes his pleasure garden in the poem.


With a book by Douglas Carter Beane and music and lyrics by Jeff Lynn and John Farrar, Xanadu was first given a workshop production and backers' audition at the Minetta Lane Theater in Greenwich Village, New York City, in January 2007.

The musical then began previews on Broadway on May 23, 2007, at the Helen Hayes Theatre and opened on July 10, 2007. Directed by Christopher Ashley with choreography by Dan Knechtges, it closed on September 28, 2008, after 49 previews and 513 performances. Kerry Butler and Cheyenne Jackson starred.

Following extended runs throughout 2009 at the La Jolla Playhouse in California, Drury Lane s Water Tower Place Theatre in Chicago, and the Asian premiere in Tokyo, the Xanadu tour ran successfully from December 7, 2009, to May 9, 2010.

Internationally the musical has run in Korea, the Philippines, and Australia as well as extensively throughout the US as such theatres as Arizona Theatre Company, TUTS, and Zach Theatre of Austin.

Cultural Influence

  • A Xanadu: Original Broadway Cast Recording was released by P.S. Classics on January 9, 2008.



  • Xanadu was nominated for 4 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and an additional 5 Drama Desk Awards, also including Outstanding Musical .
  • Jane Krakowski and Cheyenne Jackson led many intitial readings for the musical, but both had to bow out of the Broadway run due to scheduling conflicts with other projects.
  • James Carpinello was cast as Sonny and played the role during May and June previews. The actor injured his foot rollerskating during a rehearsal on June 12, 2007. Cast members Andre Ward and Curtis Holbrook alternated in the role of Sonny until Carpinello's replacement, the initial Sonny, Cheyenne Jackson, assumed the role on June 21, 2007.
  • Following its workshop production, producers were eyeing an Off-Broadway production at the Roxy for Xanadu, but when that property was sold and the Helen Hayes theatre reopened after renovations, producers leapt at the Broadway opportunity.