Recent movie history shows that remakes are all the rage. If you didn’t get it quite right the first time, let’s do a remake. If it’s a legendary classic, then we can remake it bigger and better than before. But how many times does that really need to happen. The old saying “if it ain’t broke, why fix it” should apply in these kind of instances, right? Well, that may be the case, but every once in a while it can be fun to just play casting agent and movie producer out of the sheer love of just seeing what other people think.
Olivia Newton-John and Michael Beck
With that thought in mind, and after seeing countless movies remade year after year, I thought it was time to remake a movie – the musical Xanadu – that made an impression on me before I was even a teenager, just on the cusp of becoming the TV-, movie-, book- and music-loving grown up (I’m a grown-up?) that I have become.
Olivia Newton-John and Gene Kelly
And while many may think it is crazy to remake a 1980 film that basically failed at the box office, earning a whopping $22 million at the time, and was nominated for a number of Golden Raspberry Awards there is just something about Xanadu that puts it on the top of my list for a remake.
Before I get into the whole casting process, let’s take a look at the basic breakdown of the 1980 musical Xanadu:
Sonny Malone (actor Michael Beck) is a talented artist who dreams of fame beyond the uncreative task of painting larger versions of album covers on record-store window advertisements [remember this was 1980]. One day he has an encounter with a mysterious girl outside an art deco auditorium; and later that day he is told to paint an album cover for a group called The Nine Sisters. Of course, one of the girls on the album cover resembles the mysterious girl, for whom Sonny soon becomes obsessed.
He goes back to the auditorium and finds the mysterious girl there – Kira (actress-singer Olivia Newton-John), but she won’t tell him anything about herself. As it turns out, Kira was one of nine mysterious and beautiful women who literally “sprang to life” from a local mural.
Sonny soon befriends a former big-band orchestra leader, now a construction mogul named Danny McGuire (legendary actor Gene Kelly), who lost his muse (a woman who resembles Kira) in 1940. Danny and Sonny soon form a partnership, through the encouragement of Kira, and they open a nightclub in the auditorium where Sonny first met Kira.
Soon enough, Kira and Sonny fall in love, but there is a problem: she is actually an Olympian Muse and the other eight women who came out of the mural with her are actually her sisters and fellow goddesses. They visit Earth often to help inspire others to pursue their dreams and desires, but they are not permitted to get involved with the people for whom they help. Because of their love, Kira is called back to the realm of the Gods with Sonny following her. They are permitted one final night together to see the success of the nightclub come true; but Kira and her sisters return to the realm of the Gods while Sonny meets a doppleganger for Kira, presumably starting a whole new relationship.
In my 2013 remake, though, the premise would be focused on young street artist Sam Morgan (actor Jeremy Jordan from Smash) who is dreaming of becoming an artist in residence at the “in” gallery in the city known as the Auditorium. In what seems an accident of fate, Sam meets Kira (actress Hayden Panettiere from Nashville) – as well as eight other girls who Kira introduces as her best friends, all of whom are teachers or aides at several small nursery schools – near one of the abandoned buildings where Sam was putting up his most recent piece of street art; and they quickly form a close relationship that, of course, turns into love.
Soon enough, thanks to Kira, Sam’s art starts to get attention from various gallery owners (some of whom are benefactors at the nursery schools where Kira and her friends work) especially the owner of the Auditorium, Doug McBride (actor Hugh Jackman), who is looking to expand his thriving business into the world of nightclubs. His new nightclub will be different, though, combining the worlds of fashion, music and art, featuring Sam’s artwork as the cornerstone pieces.
But, as quickly as their relationship blossoms and Sam’s success begins to take off, trouble looms in the form of a mysterious guy named Zack (actor Billy Zane) who seems to have a strange connection to Kira and her best friends not to mention a controlling interest in the property where Doug plans to build his new nightclub.
Just as things start to fall apart, Kira reveals that she is one of Zeus’ (aka Zack) daughters (the Muse of Dance) and her best friends are actually her sisters (the Muses of Poetry, History, Music, Comedy, Tragedy, Love, Religion and Astronomy). They have been told, in no uncertain terms, to return home to the Realm of the Gods or daddy dearest will destroy all the dreams held by Doug and Sam. Kira, of course, gives in because she truly loves Sam and wants all of his dreams to come true.
In the end, Kira is able to watch from the Realm of the Gods that the nightclub has become a success and Doug and Sam have achieved their goal. And, in a twist on the tale, Kira’s mother – Mnemosyne, known as Sienna, (actress Melina Kanakaredes) – overrules Zeus, allowing Kira to return to Sam’s side as he launches his own gallery.
And eventually the rest of her sisters are permitted to leave the Realm of the Gods to create lives with the men they have fallen in love with during their time in the human world. This part of the story would play out while the extended ending credits would roll out.
The rest of the cast would include the following, who are listed in the order of birth according to the characters for which they would play in the film:
Amanda Seyfried (Les Miserable, Red Riding Hood and Veronica Mars) as Phoebe, the Muse of Religion, who is a Zen-like physical education teacher who also has a strong passion for saving the environment.
Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect and the Twilight franchise) as Callie, the Muse of Poetry, who is an enthusiastic teacher specializing in reading and writing, sharing her love of books with all of her students.
Janel Parrish (Pretty Little Liars) as Melanie, the Muse of Tragedy aka the Muse of Singing, who is the music teacher at one of the nursery schools, teaching the students the intricacies of song and speech therapy.
Melissa Benoist (Glee) as Ursula, the Muse of Astronomy, who teaches basic-level science to her young charges, focusing on the weather, the planets and stars patterns.
Lucy Hale (Pretty Little Liars) as Emma, the Muse of Music who works alongside Melanie as a music teacher, sharing her love of all musical instruments with her students. She specializes in playing guitar, piano and the drums.
Allie Gonino (The Lying Game) as Erica, the Muse of Love, who serves as the registered nurse for the neighborhood nursery schools dispensing advice to her best friends even when they don’t want to hear what she has to say.
Bailey Buntain (Bunheads) as Thalia, the Muse of Comedy, who teaches dramatic arts to the nursery school students in the form of finger painting, arts and crafts and coordinating the various school plays.
Cassi Thomson (Switched at Birth) as Cleo, the Muse of History who attempts to teach her young students about the world in which they live, making history as fun as exciting as possible, which isn’t easy where children under the age of 5 are concerned.
This remake would also feature new original music from Adele, Sarah McLachlan, Bruno Mars, Kelly Clarkson, Muse, Sara Bareilles, Daughtry, Christina Perri, Imagine Dragons and Lifehouse as well as original songs from cast members Jeremy Jordan, Hayden Panettiere, Janel Parrish, Lucy Hale and Allie Gonino.
So, what do you think? Would you want to see a remake of Xanadu featuring these actors and actresses? Please share your comments below.
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