First Bite: Dance of the Vampires Begins on Broadway Oct. 16

News   First Bite: Dance of the Vampires Begins on Broadway Oct. 16

 

The Vampire, The Prey and The Killer:
Dance's Michael Crawford, Mandy Gonzalez and Rene Auberjonois.

After several years in the making — and two days of postponement — Dance of the Vampires, the musical based on the Roman Polanski film, "The Fearless Vampire Killers," finally begins performances on The Great White Way, Oct. 16.

The revamped Broadway production, originally scheduled to begin Oct. 14, delayed its first performance before an audience owing to technical difficulties. (The show features flying, elaborate choreography, special effects and upside-down hanging vampires.) Still set to open Nov. 21, the musical stars Michael Crawford and features a score by Jim Steinman with a book by David Ives, Steinman and Michael Kunze (who is also credited with the original German book and lyrics). Tony Award-winning John Rando (Urinetown) directs and John Carrafa (Urinetown, Into The Woods) choreographs the musical, which turns the Minskoff Theatre into 1880's Lower Belabartokovich, Carpathia.

"It starts out in a graveyard with a church behind it, very spooky," began Dance of the Vampires director John Rando, at a Sept. 18 press preview for the musical. Rando then interrupted himself with a cackle the cast seemed familiar with, before continuing: "Sarah and her two friends are out picking mushrooms when they come across this very forbidden territory, near the castle of the Count Von Krolock. They encounter an enormous amazing group of vampires — who happen to love rock 'n' roll and really dance to it well."

Rando told Playbill On-Line the show is not a spoof. "I wouldn't say spoof and I wouldn't really say campy," he explained between rehearsals in September. "It has the elements of that, but I would feel it's more a thrill ride, a thrill show. I think it deals with the dark underbelly of life in a very fun and interesting way."

Tony Award winner Michael Crawford (The Phantom of the Opera) heads the cast as Count von Krolock with Rene Auberjonois (City of Angels) as Professor Abronsius, Mandy Gonzalez (Aida) as Sarah, Max von Essen (Jesus Christ Superstar) as Alfred, Ron Orbach (Laughter On The 23rd Floor) as Chagal and Asa Somers (The Rocky Horror Show) as Herbert. Joining them will be Liz McCartney as Rebecca, Leah Hocking (replacing Julia Murney) as Magda and Mark Price as Boris.

The Vampires ensemble includes David Benoit, Alyssa Claar, Lindsay Dunn, Jocelyn Dowling, Edgar Godineaux, Ashley Amber Haase, Derric Harris, Kerrin Hubbard, Robin Irwin, Terace Jones, Larry Keigwin, Brendan King, Heather McFadden, Raymond McLeod, Erin Leigh Peck, Nathan Peck, Andy Pellick, Joye Ross, Solange Sandy, Jennifer Savelli, Sara Schmidt, Jonathan Sharp, Doug Storm, Jenny Lynn Suckling, Timothy Warren and Jason Wooten. Jekyll & Hyde's Robert Evan will serve as the standby for Crawford and Auberjonois.

The creative team behind Dance of the Vampires includes David Gallo (scenic design), Ann Hould-Ward (costume design), Richard Ryan (sound), Ken Billington (lighting design), David Lawrence (hair and wigs) and Angelina Avallone (make-up). Musical director will be Patrick Vacariello, orchestrator Steve Margoshes and musical supervision is by Michael Reed. The Broadway run is being produced by Bob Boyett, USA Ostar Theatricals, Andrew Braunsberg, Lawrence Horowitz, Roy Furman, Michael Gardner, Lexington Road Productions and David Sonenberg.

Before the cast was even, it was announced the original cast recording of Dance of the Vampires will be released by Interscope Records.

Composer Steinman is best known for his epic rock songs including Meatloaf's "Bat Out of Hell" albums, Air Supply's "Making Love Out Of Nothing At All," Celine Dion's "It's All Coming Back To Me Now" and Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart," which is featured in the musical. The songlist includes "Overture," "Angels Arise," "God Has Left The Building," "Original Sin," "Garlic," "Logic," "There's Never Been A Night Like This," "Don't Leave Daddy," "The Invitation," "A Good Nightmare Comes So Rarely," "The Devil May Care (But I Don't)," "Sometimes We Need The Boogeyman," "Death Is Such An Odd Thing," "Braver Than We Are," "Red Boots Ballet," "Say A Prayer," "Come With Me," "Vampires In Love (Total Eclipse of the Heart)" "Books, Books," "Carpe Noctem," "For Sarah," "Something To Kill (Our Time)," "Death Is Such An Odd Thing" (Reprise), "When Love Is Inside You," "Eternity," "Confession Of A Vampire," "The Ball: The Minuet," "Never Be Enough," "Read My Apocalypse," "Braver Than We Are" (Reprise) and "The Dance Of The Vampires."

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Dance of the Vampires — under the direction of Polanski and produced by the Stella Company — premiered October 1997 at Vienna's 1,215-seat Raimund Theatre and ran through January 2000. Budgeted at $7 million (U.S.), the show won six German IMAGE Awards the following year, including Best Musical, Best Music, Best Book, Best Actor, and Best Featured Actor and Actress.

Back in October 1997, Austrian producer Andrew Braunsberg told the New York Times he was hoping to bring the spoofy tuner to Broadway the following season. That never happened, in part because the show's director, Roman Polanski, fled the U.S. in 1977 rather than stand trial on a statutory rape charge (a charge that he has, from the start, denied). There was hope as late as 2000 that Polanski might direct it on Broadway.

Composer Steinman described to Playbill On-Line the feeling of finally seeing his musical come to Broadway after several years in development: "It's actually like being in the center of a hurricane. I don't even think of the larger concept that much, except that it feels great. It felt great in Vienna, in Stuttgart, in London when I did a musical there. It always turns out to be about people sitting in seats and how they react."

The first performance of Dance of the Vampires at the Minskoff, 200 West 45 Street, will play at 8PM. 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.