From Franz to Dance: Ron Orbach Joins Cast of Bway's Vampires

News   From Franz to Dance: Ron Orbach Joins Cast of Bway's Vampires
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Ron Orbach.

Ron Orbach will get another chance to return to Broadway as he has been cast in the upcoming Broadway musical Dance of the Vampires, as confirmed by the actor's agent. The actor whose injury kept him from coming to The Great White Way in The Producers will take on another character role when the tuner begins previews at the Minskoff Theatre Oct. 14 and open Nov. 21.

Orbach was cast as the Nazi playwright Franz Liebkind. He injured his knee during a rehearsal and consequently missed the previews and opening night of the Mel Brooks musical's run in Chicago. He returned to the production, but was not physically able to stay with the production. His understudy, Brad Oscar, would go on to play the role on Broadway and eventually assume the other role he understudied, Max Bialystock. Orbach played Ira Stone (ironically, a part based on Mel Brooks) on Broadway in Laughter on the 23rd Floor and then went on to play the lead, Max Prince, in the Chicago premiere, on the national tour and at Seattle's A Contemporary Theater — where he also directed. His Off-Broadway credits include Hotel Suite, Mrs. Dally Has A Lover, Philistines and The Skin of Our Teeth. He will play the role of Chagal, a Jewish innkeeper who is "almost a parody of Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof, as described in a casting notice.

The addition of Orbach fills out the cast which includes Michael Crawford, Rene Auberjonois, Max von Essen and Mandy Gonzalez, Julia Murney and Asa Somers.

Dance director John Rando told Playbill On-Line the show was a "funny scare where you could have a really good time and yet you are spooked." He added that the Broadway production will be "different than it is in Germany. I think the biggest difference is that, in Germany, it's a sung-through piece without any spoken word or just very few. Here in New York, it's going to be a book musical. We've also done a lot of changes in the construction of the play. Jim Steinman has also changed the music in many places."

To view the Playbill On-Line Brief Encounter interview with Rando, click here.

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"If you think Broadway musicals suck now — just you wait..."

That tagline ends the online preview of the upcoming Broadway musical spoof with music and lyrics by Jim Steinman (Whistle Down the Wind, the upcoming Batman). The tuner will be helmed by Tony Award winning Urinetown director John Rando. The project will reteam the helmer with choreographer John Carrafa (Urinetown, Into The Woods).

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 David Sonenberg, Andrew Braunsberg, Bob Boyett, USA Ostar Theatricals and Lawrence Horowitz.

As confirmed by a Barlow-Hartman spokesperson — before the cast was even set — the original cast recording of Dance of the Vampires will be released by Interscope Records.

Dance of the Vampires, an adaptation of Polanski's 1967 film horror spoof, "The Fearless Vampire Killers" (which was originally titled "Dance with the Vampires"), is set "in a Transylvanian graveyard near a village with an unpronounceable name. It is three nights before Halloween, 1880-something," as quoted from the official Jim Steinman website (www.jimsteinman.com). The story follows a professor-vampire killer and his dim assistant in their struggle to save an inn keeper's daughter from becoming "Queen of the Vampires."

The original German Tanz Der Vampire featured book and lyrics by Michael Kunze which were further adapted for the Broadway version by comedic playwright David Ives. The former has translated numerous Broadway musicals into German, as well as penning the book and lyrics for the European tuners Elisabeth and Mozart!. The latter, author of All in the Timing, The Red Address and the upcoming Rando-helmed Polish Joke, is also working on Batman with Steinman.

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). Little changed on that score, though media sources reported that Hollywood notables and executives were working behind the scenes to convince the Los Angeles District Attorney's office to allow Polanski back into the U.S. Braunsberg told the Daily News in February 2000 that would allow him to bring Dance of the Vampires to Broadway by the end of that year, with Polanski to direct.

For more information on Dance of the Vampires, visit the show's website at www.danceofthevampires.com.