Opening at the Curran Theatre was Jan. 8, and work to refine and improve the piece has been ongoing. The New York Post reported Jan. 27 that Jonathan Butterell (Nine) has been brought onto the project to provide some objective creativity. Rehearsals and refinements will continue in New York City leading to a first preview at the Palace Theatre March 11, toward an April 13 opening.
The lush, shadowy, romantic-pop world of the title vampire (drawn from the novels of Anne Rice and played by Hugh Panaro) was created by composer Elton John, lyricist Bernie Taupin, director Robert Jess Roth, book writer Linda Woolverton and choreographer Matt West (credited with musical staging).
Lestat will be Elton John's third musical for Broadway following The Lion King and Aida. He also wrote songs for the smash London musical Billy Elliott, which has yet to be announced for a Broadway bow.
The show reunites the creators of Broadway's Beauty and the Beast: Roth, Woolverton and West.
In addition to Hugh Panaro, a veteran of Broadway's The Phantom of the Opera, the principal cast includes Carolee Carmello (Mamma Mia!, Parade) as Gabrielle, Drew Sarich as Armand, Jim Stanek as Louis, Roderick Hill as Nicolas, Michael Genet as Marius and Allison Fischer as Claudia. Lestat's cast of 16 features Rachel Coloff, Nikki Renee Daniels, Joseph Dellger, Colleen Fitzpatrick, Chris Peluso, Megan Reinking, Sarah Solie, Amy Sparrow, Will Swenson, Steve Wilson and Tommar Wilson. The producer, Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures, run by Gregg Maday, bills Lestat as "the romantic and heartbreaking story of the extraordinary journey of one man who escapes the tyranny of his oppressive family only to have his life taken from him. Thrust into the seductive and sensual world of an immortal vampire, Lestat sets out on a road of adventures in a quest for everlasting love and companionship but is forced to reconcile his innate sense of good with his primal need to exist."
John and Taupin represent one of the great marriages of pop songwriting. They started working together in the 1960s, and their hits include "Candle in the Wind" and "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road."
Now, they are turning to a new form for them: Musical theatre rather than pop albums. Think of their new team-up as "together again for the first time."
"Elton and I have threatened for years to work together on something for Broadway but until now had never found anything that appealed to both of us collectively or suited my own personal writing style," Taupin said in production notes. "We have unified [the Anne Rice] books into a linear storyline and our intention is to make a stylish, sexy, intelligent and richly hypnotic 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."
"This musical is the fulfillment of my deepest dreams," said author Anne Rice, in a statement. "Elton's music and Bernie's lyrics have captured the pain and the passion of the characters perfectly, and the entire adaptation has re-created the very essence of the books. Working with the whole team — Rob Roth, Linda Woolverton, and of course Elton and Bernie — has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my entire career. The talent, the brilliance, and the generosity of these folks is beyond belief. I'm humbled; I'm grateful; and I'm so excited that I can hardly stand it. Lestat, Louis and Claudia are about to be reborn."
Elton John said in production notes, "'Interview with the Vampire' is one of my favorite books and Anne Rice is one of my favorite authors. Lestat is the first stage musical that I've written with Bernie which makes it even more special for me."
"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," stated Taupin.
The creative team includes scenic designer Derek McLane, costume designer Susan Hilferty, lighting designer Kenneth Posner, sound designer Jonathan Deans, visual concept designer Dave McKean, and hair designer Tom Watson.
Lestat has orchestrations by Steve Margoshes and Guy Babylon, with musical supervision by Guy Babylon, musical direction by Brad Haak, and vocal arrangements by Todd Ellison.
The official website for the show is www.lestat.com.