Dance of the Vampires Librettist Michael Kunze Reveals Changes for Broadway

News   Dance of the Vampires Librettist Michael Kunze Reveals Changes for Broadway

 

Vienna Vampire Boys: Roman Polanski, Michael Kunze and Jim Steinman.

 

Michael Kunze, who wrote the book and lyrics for the original German-language version of Dance of the Vampires, says "Everything is a little bit more theatrical" about the current Broadway production. The revamped Jim Steinman musical based on the Roman Polanski film, "The Fearless Vampire Killers," is currently in previews at Minskoff Theatre for a Nov. 21 opening. The Prague-born and Munich-bred lyricist and librettist told Playbill On-Line the day after the originally scheduled Oct. 14 first performance that he agreed with the two-day delay. "It's such a complicated show and it's also dangerous for the cast if they're not totally sure where to go. I think it was a very generous decision of the producers to postpone it."

Kunze talked of the show's origin and the unwilling director. "I was approached by the producer in Vienna who had the idea to do this. Then, I went to Paris to meet [then director] Roman Polanski, who was very reluctant to do it. I offered to make an outline for him and eventually convinced him that it would be the right thing to do."

The librettist, following many discussions, wrote the book in English first for the non German-speaking Polanski. (He would later adapt the work into German for the Vienna staging.) When it came time to add music to the mix, Kunze explained, "I immediately wanted to have Jim Steinman because I am a fan of his songs. Also because I believe, although he was not know for musical theatre, that he is very dramatic in his writing. So we approached him and we were very surprised that he said 'yes.'"

Thought Kunze had much success as an adaptor of shows for German-speaking audiences with Evita, Cats, A Chorus Line, The Phantom of the Opera, Follies, and Little Shop of Horrors, among many more, this project would only be the bookwriter's sophomore venture into original musicals.

"I had very big success with a show called Elisabeth, but [Dance] was so in a totally different realm. It was in a similar style though, because my kind of musicals are not typical Broadway musicals. That also was the problem with bringing it to Broadway because my shows usually don't have dialogue. [Playwright David Ives and Steinman reworked the current Broadway book.] I'm very operatic, but it's also very pop and rock oriented. I wouldn't call it a rock opera, but it's more in that vein."

The German-language production of Tanz der Vampire played in Vienna for two years before transferring to a larger theatre in Stuttgart where it currently still plays. The secret to its success, Kunze claims "It's drawing a very young audience. It's now its in its fifth year and still doing very well."

The Broadway production, no doubt, hopes for the same fate though the productions differ. Kunze revealed "I think the Broadway show has really improved and I'm very happy we continued work on it. What [Broadway director] John Rando added is a lot of additional humor. We never wanted it to be a dark gothic thing, we wanted to make fun at the same time give people relief, it's good to have a good laugh. There has been a lot of fine-tuning with music, a certain restructuring, a new opening, it's much more dance and the dance is much wilder."

The 58-year-old Kunze spoke of his aim for a more mass-appeal theatrical work for his and future generations which grew up on rock 'n' roll music. "What I always wanted was to have a show that appeals to people who usually don't go to theatre but see videos and rock shows and we badly need these people in the theatre. And I think theatre has so much to offer these people, especially on Broadway. Musical theatre is great for all generations."

Dance of the Vampires plays at the Minskoff, 200 West 45 Street. Tickets ($30 $95) can be purchased via Ticketmaster at (212) 307-4100, (800) 755-4000 or online at www.ticketmaster.com. For more information, visit the show's website at www.danceofthevampires.com.