Elton John and Bernie Taupin's Vampire Lestat Tests Its Wings in Private NYC Reading

News   Elton John and Bernie Taupin's Vampire Lestat Tests Its Wings in Private NYC Reading
 
The Vampire Lestat, the new musical by songwriters Elton John and Bernie Taupin, based on the blood-thirsty and love-hungry characters of Anne Rice, gets a private reading for the producers and creative team beginning Nov. 4, Playbill On-Line has learned.

Elton John
Elton John Photo by Aubrey Reuben

The cast for the 29-hour, Equity-approved reading of the early draft of the show includes James Barbour (Jane Eyre) as Lestat, Jack Noseworthy (Sweet Smell of Success), Steve Blanchard (Beauty and the Beast) and Max Von Essen (Dance of the Vampires) and other performers.

The project, from new producer Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures — and with Manny Azenberg as a partner — was announced in May 2003, aiming for a 2005 staging.

John and Taupin are known for their internationally successful songs "Someone Saved My Life Tonight," "Daniel," "Rocket Man," "Candle In The Wind," "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me," "Bennie and the Jets" and more. The score of the dawning show is said to be more legit and traditional than pop and rock. The libretto is by Linda Woolverton (Beauty and the Beast, Aida and the film, "The Lion King"). Robert Jess Roth (Beauty and the Beast) directs.

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When it was announced in spring 2003, the project's working title was The Vampire Lestat. "'Interview With the Vampire' is one of my favorite books and Anne Rice is one of my favorite authors," John said in an earlier statement. "Although this project has taken a while to come together, I firmly believe we have the right team in place. The Vampire Lestat is the first stage musical that I've written with Bernie which makes it even more special for me." Taupin added, "Anne had always loved the idea of seeing her Vampire Chronicles set in some sort of serious and seductive musical setting and for all of the parties involved this is the opportunity of a lifetime. Our intention is make a classically-based show that is stripped of gothic clichés and that shows the vampire dealing with his damnation on a more realistic and human level. Please let me make this clear this is NOT a rock opera. Our hope is that it will be stylish, sexy, intelligent, rich and hypnotically dark."

The title character has been adapted for the screen in such films as "Interview With the Vampire" and "Queen of the Damned." Both movies drew on the original best-selling novels by Anne Rice.

Recording artist Elton John, known internationally for his pop songwriting career of over 30 years, is currently represented on Broadway by the long-running Disney collaborations The Lion King and Aida. Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures marks its debut with the project. The parent company is Warner Brothers Entertainment.

The organization, which was founded more than 75 years ago started as a motion picture company, has become a multi-faceted entertainment company branching into television, home video, animation and international theatres.

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Vampires have inspired a number of musicals in the past year. Jim Steinman's Dance of the Vampires — based on the Roman Polanski film "The Fearless Vampire Killers" — saw the Broadway stage briefly in 2002-03. Bram Stoker's classic vampire tale "Dracula" was adapted into three separate incarnations that have been seen in regional theatres: Dracula: A Chamber Musical (book and lyrics by Richard Ouzounian with music and orchestrations by Marek Norman); Dracula — The Game of Love (book and lyrics by Michael Lazar with music by Richard Oberacker); and Dracula, the Musical (book and lyrics by Christopher Hampton and Don Black with music by Frank Wildhorn). Posters for the Wildhorn version popped up around Manhattan in 2002, but no announcement has been made for the show's future following its California premiere.

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