The much-rumored casting of Rene Auberjonois in upcoming Broadway production of Dance of the Vampires has been confirmed by the musical's director John Rando in an interview with Playbill On-Line. The actor will join previously reported star Michael Crawford and young leads Max von Essen and Mandy Gonzalez in the show set to begin previews at the Minskoff Theatre Oct. 14 and open Nov. 21.
"It's really amazing to be working with Michael Crawford. He's such a consummate professional. We're building a terrific cast around him," boasted Rando about the show's performers who will go into rehearsals in August. Auberjonois, as Rando confirmed, has been cast in the role of the absent-minded Professor Abronsius. As for the remainder of the ensemble, Rando added, "We're still filling out the cast."
Auberjonois won a Tony Award for his musical debut in Coco and has garnered nominations for his turns in The Good Doctor, Big River and City of Angels. He is also known for his television roles as Clayton Endicott III on the comedy "Benson" as well as his 7-year stint as shapeshifting Constable Odo Ital on "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine."
von Essen made his Broadway debut in the revival of Jesus Christ Superstar , playing an apostle and as understudy to Jesus, often performing the title role. He was previously seen on stage in Off-Broadway's The Fantasticks and currently in the Papermill Playhouse's My Fair Lady. von Essen was in the initial American workshop reading of the show. Gonzalez made her Broadway debut in Aida understudying the role of Amneris. She received an Obie Award for her turn in Eli's Comin' at Off-Broadway's Vineyard Theatre.
Crawford will play Count Von Krolock, a role that casting notices say requires a "male, any ethnicity, to play anywhere from 30 to 50 to 425 years old, the show's vampire, the seductive, diabolic, dramatic center of the show." Auberjonois takes the role of the absent-minded Professor Abronsius to von Essen's sidekick and hero Alfred. Gonzalez will play Sarah, "the breathtaking village girl." Other roles include Herbert, the Count's "gay vampire son"; Chagal, a Jewish innkeeper who's "almost a parody of Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof"; Rebecca, "the large, buffo, unsatisfied, griping village spouse" of the innkeeper; and the "busty lusty" Magda.
Tickets (topping at $95) went on sale May 31 through Ticketmaster. The marquee at the Minskoff has also been put up, replacing the long-gone The Adventures of Tom Sawyer marquee which was not taken down until recently.
"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.
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.
London-based producer Sonenberg attributed the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on delaying the New York production. "We haven't been able to do anything productive since all this happened," he told the New York Times. "We just realized there was no way to open before the Tony cutoff." The Vienna hit was to reach Broadway's Minskoff Theatre in March and open April 11.
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.