If you think Broadway musicals suck now - Just you wait..."
That tagline ends the online preview of the upcoming Broadway musical spoof Dance of the Vampires which is set to begin previews at the Minskoff Theatre Oct. 14 and open Nov. 21 starring Michael Crawford.
The fangy tuner with music and lyrics by Jim Steinman (Whistle Down the Wind, the upcoming Batman) will be helmed by Urinetown director John Rando. The project will reteam the helmer with choreographer John Carrafa (Urinetown, Into The Woods).
No other casting has been confirmed as of yet, but Rene Auberjonois has been offered a role and is currently in negotiations, according to his agent Peter Strain. Auberjonois has appeared on Broadway in Coco, The Good Doctor, Big River and City of Angels, garnering Tony Award nominations for all and winning for the first.
The creative team behind Dance of the Vampires includes David Gallo (scenic design), Ann Hould-Ward (costume design), Richard Ryan (sound) and Ken Billington (lighting design). 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 has even been 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 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.
Though last summer brought news that Crawford, of Phantom of the Opera fame, would come to Broadway in the musical comedy Dance of the Vampires, shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the show postponed its opening until next season.
London-based producer Sonenberg attributed the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on delaying the 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.
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." Other roles include earnest hero Alfred; Sarah, "the breathtaking village girl"; Herbert, the Count's "gay vampire son"; absent-minded Professor Abronsius; 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.
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.
A source in the marketing department at Holland's Theater de Maaspoort Venlo informed Playbill On-Line that according to the German magazine "musicals," workshops of Dance of the Vampires were held in New York in April and May at the Chelsea Studios. Featured were the late Steve Barton as Count von Krolock, alongside William Youmans, Tom Alan Robbins, Bertilla Baker, Sarah Uriarte, Kate Shindle, Jason Wooten and Urinetown's Ken Jennings. Reportedly, the show is being heavily reworked for Broadway. Crawford's manager, Mort Viner, told Variety that the actor would not be treading on familiar macabre turf by playing a vampire after playing a phantom. "Vampires will be a totally different performance because of the comedy."
Polanski's last theatre directing stint came in November 1999, when he staged a new Italian production of Peter Shaffer's Amadeus at Piacenza's Teatro Comunale. Actor Crawford's last stage work was in the Vegas "FX" show. Prior to his Broadway success, the actor won an Olivier for the London mounting of Barnum and also had featured roles in the films "Hello, Dolly!" and "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," both based on stage shows.
For more information on Dance of the Vampires, visit the show's website at www.danceofthevampires.com.