Cue the roller skates, disco outfits, and killer songs: this Saturday, Long Beach Cinematheque will be teaming up with RIOTstage for a lighthearted performance and screening of the cult classic Xanadu for its summer film screening, sponsored by Lola's.
Described as one of the "so bad, it’s good" classics in the summer movie screenings' promotional release, Xanadu stars Olivia Newton-John as a supernatural being and dancing bolt of neon light in the '70s meets '80s. Olivia Newton-John and the ELO fill the film with splashy musical numbers—with a scene starring Gene Kelly, no less.
In a unique move for the series, the screening will feature a performance by a collective of local musicians to celebrate the music of the British rock group Electric Light Orchestra (ELO), a fixture on the movie’s soundtrack, organized by the Long Beach music and event ensemble RIOTstage.
Executive Director of Long Beach Cinematheque Logan Crow said he reached out to RIOTstage in the hopes of adding something "extra" to this year’s series.
“So it came as a fantastic shock when Josh [Fischel, of RIOTstage] goes, 'What about Xanadu with an ELO Tribute? I've always wanted to put together a tribute to ELO!'" said Crow. "After a few back flips, I told him I had that exact thing in mind, and agreed we HAD to make it happen."
Gates open at 6:30PM at Long Beach’s Sunnyside Cemetery. Participants are encouraged to bring low-back chairs, blankets and picnic baskets. The musical performance begins at 7:30PM, and the film begins at 8:30PM.
Crow said Xanadu was chosen strategically for its sparkly and sensational approach to its subject matter, a far cry from the darker films also featured in the series.
"Xanadu is definitely a bouncy neon-lit light alternative to the picks we made this summer, with the remaning films in our series—The Lost Boys, Heathers, and The Shining—all a touch on the darker side," said Crow. "It was important to me not to just make this a Horror at the Cemetery! series—our programming really celebrates films that, whereas they may not have been household box office extravaganza hits, are deeply beloved by legions of fans."
But ultimately, Xanadu’s screening will live up to the series’ favoring of cult classics—a passion of Crow’s.
"I've always had an affinity for what would be considered 'cult cinema,' and in particular, those films that transcended an initial poor box office reception to emerge as beloved and oft-quoted gems beloved by an avid following," Crow said. "I'm sure no one could imagine in 1980, for example, that Xanadu would see a Tony-nominated stage adaptation take Broadway by storm over 25 years later."
The pre-screening musical performance stars RIOTstage members Joshua Fischel, Benj Clarke, Luca Pino, Mark Guillen, Heather Somerhauser, Greggory Moore, Patrick O’Konski, Rachel Star Albright, Prue Rees-Lee, Beth Folsom, Elizabeth Egan Everett and Jon Zell.
"I personally can't wait to sit down with the audience and take their performance in—I have no doubt fellow ELO and Olivia Newton-John fans in the audience will be swept away, and more than likely, singing along with gusto!" said Crow.
Online pre-sale tickets available for $12 here.
Tickets are $15 at the gate starting at 6:30pm, cash-only, while supplies last.
Ticket sale proceeds will support Sunnyside Cemetery.
Above, left: promotional poster for XANADU.